WESTMINSTER, CO (December 21, 2015) – Jim Persson, former director of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, died Sunday morning while in hospice. He was 81.
He attended North Park College and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in social studies from Mankato State College, and from North Park Seminary. He earned a doctor of ministry in theology from Fuller Seminary.
Jim married Arlys Ogren on September 3, 1954.
When he was a small child, his grandmother told him he would one day be a preacher. He also early on came to believe he was called to ministry, which his church affirmed while he was still a teenager.
Jim served several congregations, including the Evangelical Covenant Church in Moose Lake, Minnesota; Evangelical Covenant Church in Albert City, Iowa; and Hillside Covenant Church in Walnut Creek, California. While at Hillside he drew up a plan to begin several churches in Contra Costa County.
He also served in three executive positions: assistant superintendent and director of development for the Pacific Southwest Conference, executive secretary of the ECC, and director of Church Growth and Evangelism (CGE).
“He was a humble, God-first leader,” president Gary Walter said. “His passion was to see people experience the grace of Christ. Bringing My World to Christ and the acceleration of church planting are central parts of his ECC legacy.”
He retired in 1999 following the first-ever “The Feast,” a multi-day national prayer gathering of the denomination, which he initiated. In a book he wrote for his family, Jim wrote about concluding his ministry and preaching at the event. “I am so glad that the room was dimly lit because I did not want my grandchildren see me fill the proverbial bucket of tears.”
After his retirement from full-time ministry, Jim served as associate pastor at Centennial Covenant Church, as interim pastor at Faith Covenant Church in Colorado Springs, and then as assistant chaplain at Covenant Village in Westminster.
He is survived by his wife; three sons, Russ (Jan), Rollie (Valerie), and Ron (Julie); 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Witness to the resurrection services will be held at 11 a.m. on December 28 at Trimont Covenant Church and at 3 p.m. on January 2 at Covenant Village of Colorado. There will be a family graveside service at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Trimont.
Memorials may be sent to ECC Start and Strengthen Churches or Benevolence Fund of Covenant Village of Colorado.