Karen Hearl, Champion for Women in Leadership, Passes Away

LINCOLN, CA (September 4, 2013) – Covenant minister Karen (Van Steenwyk) Hearl, wife of retired Covenant pastor Alan Hearl and a strong advocate of leadership training for women, died Monday following a long battle with cancer. She was 74.

A celebration of life service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday in the main worship center at Bayside Church in Granite Bay.

Hearl was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 1, 1939. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in nursing from North Park College in 1962 and worked as a pediatric nurse.

She married Alan on August 25, 1962. Together they ministered at Covenant churches across the United States.

Hearl also was a long-time leader with Women Ministries in the Covenant, and was instrumental in developing and guiding its Ministry Coaching program. She was honored for her years of service at Triennial XIV last month.

“She was an incredible inspiration, encouragement and blessing to me and to hundreds of others,” said Meagan Gillan, executive minister of the Department of Women Ministries.

Survivors include her husband and two sons, David and Tim.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been set up to support Hearl’s favorite ministries, the Department of Women Ministries, Mission Springs Camps & Conference Center, and Bayside. Gifts should be directed to the Bayside Church Memorial Fund in Karen’s name, P.O. Box 2336, Granite Bay, CA  95746.


News Obituary


  • What a shock to hear about Karen! We have many memories of your time in ministry at Anoka, Minnesota. Sincere sympathy. You are in our prayers.

  • Karen was inspirational and her joy was infectious! Her legacy will live on in the many lives that she impacted! I am one of those that she touched deeply. I will miss her.

  • I didn’t know Karen well but saw her as a humble servant and follower of Christ. I am certain she accepted and trusted in God ‘s plan for her life including the timing of her home going. May her work in the kingdom be multiplied in the women she so loved and mentored.

  • I will never forget a women’s retreat years ago where Karen was speaker. She told us “not to become crabby old women.” We all laughed, but I think it was the first time I realized that we actually DO have a choice! Thanks for that. Peace to her memory.

  • I will miss Karen greatly. She was a wonderful friend, a prayer warrior, an encourager, an equipper! I’m grateful for all her work with Women Ministries over the years and her joyous spirit. I’m so glad I got to talk to her at Triennial. My prayers go out to you Alan and your family. I know she will be greatly missed. You were a great team!

  • Several years ago during a Women Ministries (WM) event in our church Karen and her team spoke to our women about WM coaching. Toward the end of the evening we stood in small circles of friends and shared together…our wants, desires and needs for ECC WM. I vividly recall saying to Karen, “When I grow up I want to be like you, a WM Coach.” Karen’s immediate response to me was a sharp look into my eyes and this statement….”What is stopping you?” The following year I applied for coach training and was commissioned as a WM Coach during the 2010 Triennial in D.C. Karen’s encouragement and training were and will continue to be an inspiration for future Women Ministries. She blessed my life

  • I have many happy memories of Karen from the days in Warren, Pennsylvania. May her family find comfort and be blessed with many wonderful memories of all she did and who she was. She blessed all of us who knew her.

  • I was sorry to hear of Karen’s death. She is a long-time friend. We were classmates during our junior and senior high school years in Rockford, Illinois, and later at North Park in Chicago. She has long been a sincere and earnest Christian with a heart for Christ and others. Her work with Covenant Women Ministries speaks for itself. Deepest sympathies to Alan and the rest of the family. Blessed be Karen’s memory.

    Craig Anderson

  • Devastating! Karen was an amazing woman of God. Sincere,perceptive, genuine, always one to encourage. Our lives of ministry started together, and it seems much too early for hers to be ended. But wait, by God’s grace and her faithfulness, we can be assured it will continue on through others she has touched. Thank God for her life and legacy.

    Our sympathy and prayers are with Alan, David, Tim and the church family who mourn her loss!

    With gratitude and sadness, Phil and Jonna Axelson

  • As one of Karen’s first cousins I’m thankful to know that she was one of us and happy to claim her skills and devotion to the important things in life. She was one of our youngest and shared a familial tendency toward autoimmune illnesses, different, yet similar. For those who are interested in research, perhaps there is still much to learn for future generations. Godspeed, Karen. Thank you Alan.

    Love, Mary

  • Karen was an awesome, innovative leader and we have lost a true advocate for women. I remember the first time I led a workshop at Triennial as a young pastor. Karen was the one responsible for inviting me and she made sure I had everything I needed—which is what you would expect from a Women Ministries leader—but what was unexpected from that experience, was how Karen continued to remain in contact with me for many, many years afterwards. From that first experience, a dear friendship was born. Karen was very outspoken about issues of injustice and through her illness I found her to be a true champion. We will remember Karen as a fighter! She walked through life with a confidence that caused others to want to follow her. I am thankful to God that our paths crossed and we were able to walk as companions for just a little while. I thank Alan for sharing her with so many of us. May God be with her family as they transition to life without her.

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