Two Services Scheduled for James R. Hawkinson

WHITE BEAR LAKE, MN (May 24, 2011) – Two services are planned for James R. Hawkinson who died this morning in a St. Paul hospital from complications following surgery on May 5.

Hawkinson served a number of Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) pastorates as well as numerous Covenant boards and commissions, but is perhaps best known for his 28 years serving as executive secretary of the former Covenant Publications department and as editor of The Covenant Companion.

Visitation will be observed this coming Sunday, May 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. at Salem Covenant Church, 2655 Fifth Street NW in New Brighton, Minnesota, with a funeral service scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 30, at Salem Covenant Church.

A memorial service will be conducted at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at North Park Covenant Church, 5250 N. Christiana Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

Hawkinson, who was named Executive Secretary Emeritus following his retirement in September 1994, died at 10:40 a.m. at United Hospital. “He was in perfect peace, knew that his whole family was there, singing and telling stories and reading scripture and praying and loving him,” reads an entry on his web page.

Responses began flowing within minutes of the news being posted on the ECC website earlier today.

“Jim, in his person, lived out the best of who we are, as someone deeply committed to God and to God’s mission in the world,” said ECC President Gary Walter when informed of Hawkinson’s passing. “In terms of transmitting the unique identity of the Evangelical Covenant Church, no one has been more influential than Jim. His work lives on through his writings and collections of Covenant wit and wisdom.”

A more complete story will be posted once family members have had time to compile biographical and related information. More immediate attention was paid to completing service arrangements so that individuals interested in attending one or both of the services could have time to complete travel arrangements.

Additional information will be published as it becomes available. To view a collection of Hawkinson videos from the ECC website library, click here. Three of the videos are presentations Hawkinson made during the historic 125th anniversary Annual Meeting in St. Paul last year around the theme of “Telling the Story.” Two additional videos are interviews that Hawkinson conducted with Efrem Smith and Bob Stromberg.


News Obituary


  • I met Jim when I was a student intern at Salem Covenant in New Brighton, MN and he was the interim senior pastor. Jim was very welcoming and encouraging to me, a newcomer to the Covenant and a newcomer to pastoral ministry. He wisely and with good humor helped me see both my strengths and growing areas as a person. Jim was a good mentor, and I will miss him.

  • My deepest sympathy to Alyce and the family! Jim was a good and faithful friend of mine. He would often call just to let me know that he loved me and wanted to know how I was doing. That love and care was mutual and I will miss him deeply. Among his many gifts as a pastor, a writer, and an administrator we all knew him as a storyteller. He had a marvelous gift for telling the stories that captured the spirit and the essence of our roots as Mission Friends. But more than being a storyteller, Jim was the story. In his person he exemplified the spirit of what has made the Covenant unique throughout its history. I thank God for Jim and the impact of his life on me as a person and a pastor. Peace be to the memory of James R. Hawkinson.
    Herb Freedholm, Palatine, IL

  • I am grateful to Jim for his love for Jesus and his kind heart for others.  As a student I sorted the mail and bled the 5101 building’s radiator valves early mornings hoping they would not clank so loudly throughout the day.  Jim remembered me.  A year ago he friended me on facebook with a warm greeting and genuine interest in my whereabouts.  I value all Jim’s commitments and heart for the affirmations of the Covenant and the ministry of God through a community of faith he was at home in.  I also thank Jim and Alice for influencing and supporting children and grandchildren in Jesus’ ministry in the world . . . specifically Peter and Lars who I know more personally. Peace to his memory and hope of the resurrection to all Jim’s family. 

  • A great Hero of the Faith, the Covenant Church and it’s history will be greatly missed.  Peace to his memory.

  • Jim Hawkinson was our speaker at CHIC ’68 in Speculator NY. As high school students we were more than a little impressed how “that balding man” communicated with such warmth, humor and passion. That was only the beginninig of Jim’s influence, and that of his family including that his parents, in my life and ministry. In every pastorate of mine, Jim was an encourager . In every meeting, be it along sidewalk or in a Midwinter corridor, Jim exuded the genuine hospitality of Christ. And, throughout his career of interpreting and reinterpreting our common life as Covenanters, Jim was a mission friend in spirit and in truth. We serve in his lengthened shadow. Doug Johnson, Santa Barbara, CA

  • I knew Jim when I worked at Covenant Press in the early 80’s.  He was always cheerful and encouraging.  It is sad to hear of his death.  Peace to his family.

  • I have known Jim first thru his family Eric and Lydia Hawkinson and then when he was in the Academy while I was in North Park College. It was a joy for my husband and me to have a tour of Sweden with Alyce and Jim in 1992 – – He will be greatly missed. My sympathies to his wonderful family.

  • My daughter Carrie said it well; “Jim, you and your family are very dear to us!” Thank you for being my mentor, friend and for inspiring me again and again to be generous and to do ministry with joy and thanksgiving. You have blessed me and my family with so many wonderful stories and experiences that we treasure. Thank you for your love of music and calling the church to celebrate our rich heritage. (“Play whats on the page”). Alyce, Judy, Erik, Mary, Peter and family, We love you and may God hold you in the palm of his hand as you grieve and celebrate Jims life.

  • We came to know Jim & Alice while he pastored Hilmar Covenant and we were at Modesto Covenant. What a joy to work with him as we called him to be Editor of The California Covenanter and later worked together as he was Editor of the Companion. What a joy in 1990 when he and Alice led our tour to the Passion Play. God gave Jim that wonderful spirit of love and encouragement that was a blessing to so many and continued until long after his retirement. We thank God for his life and ministry and for the joy of being his friends. We praise God for what he has meant to the Covenant Church. He will be missed by us all.
    Luverne & Mary Ruth Sands

  • For as long as I can remember Jim was someone I enjoyed seeing and couldn’t wait to see again. He had a way of making one feel good. He’s probably singing “The Lord’s Prayer” to Jesus right now. Our love to Alice, Judy, one of my all-time best buds Eric, Mary, Peter and Paul.

  • Jim and I were classmates at North Park College. We served on the national Covenant Youth Board. If there was any conflict or difficult time, Jim could lighten the occasion with one of this stories or using his “John Peterson accent” he would talk about “tings in Shina.” Jim was a dear friend, and I will really miss him. He and Alyce led our 1990 trip to the Oberamergau Passion Play, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. He was THE BEST guide ever. May God bless his memory to his wife and children!

  • We were stunned to hear about Jim’s death. Our love and prayers are with Alyce and the family in this time of deep loss. Jim will be missed, not only for his leadership in the Covenant, but also his wonderful sense of humor and positive outlook. He was a good friend of so many and his presence will be missed at future gatherings. We’re sure he is having good conversations with his folks and others who have preceeded him, having heard those words of commendation from His Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  • Elizabeth and I were stunned to hear of Jim’s passing. Our hearts go out to Alice and the whole family. Jim was more than a leader in the Covenant. He was an institution. His celebration of life, wide reading, witty and insightful speaking and writing can never be forgotten. He was a very dear friend. While he and I come from differing traditions in the Covenant, he always treated me with kindness, affection, and respect. As President I found that he was always loyal and supportive. We had a unique bond between us–the ability to share our deepest pains and to give kindly advice and support. Even in retirement he continued to call and chat from time to time. His passing is a real loss to the Covenant. But in a personal sense, his passing causes me intense personal pain. We shall not see his kind again.

  • Remembering my years at the Covenant Bookstore, I recall Jim coming through the offices singing the Doxology and asking me if I knew how to sing it my response to him was hey I’m only a covenanter by osmosis!!!…What a beautiful person! My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Hawkinson family. Peace to his memory.

  • With great joy and affection we remember Jim – his smile, love, concern and personal interest in each of us along with his committment to the Covenant Church. What a blessing for us to have known him. Truly a wonderful man!

  • Jim will be remembered by Bonnie and me as a dear friend and valued colleague. We have had the privilege of serving together at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, after having the joyful experience of working together on the Hymnal Commission for several years. Our lives have been intertwined with Jim and Alyce in so many ways, and it is hard to imagine life without him. Jim was one of God’s great gifts to the Church through story telling, singing, preaching, writing, and above all, loving and serving God’s people. Peace to his memory.

  • We sit here stunned in our lake cabin not able to comprehend the news received this morning on
    our computer. Jim’s passing leaves a deep hole in my being as he has impacted my life throughout our time beginning in Seminary homiletics class. Throughout our lives in ministry Jim as reached out to encourage and inspire as he has for so many others. God Bless the memory of his life to us all.

  • We are deeply saddened to hear of Jim’s passing.  He was such a wonderful, vibrant Christian who had a profound influence upon us in our years at North Park Church.  He was so joyful and always encouraging.  We will miss him but are so blessed by the memories we have of our time with him.

  • Jim was a good friend to all who knew him. He always had a cheerful smile and warm hello as he walked the halls of the 5101 building. He will be greatly missed.

    Nancy Reed

  • A wonderful, kind man and a great friend! He was a tremendous encouragement in my early years of writing, and he will be remembered for as long as memory doesn’t fail us for his stories. I will miss him more than I can say!

  • Shocking to hear of Jim’s passing but comforting to know he is with our Lord. Jim and Alice were so incredibly hospitable to us when we first came into the Covenant and for many years thereafter. What a wonderful friend and role model. He will be missed. Peace to his memory and love to his family. Bruce and Sandy Finfrock

  • Jim was an authentic Mission Friend, alight with the joy and grace of Christ in a way that was truly infectious. In external orientation we had some great instructors who taught us about the history and identity of the Covenant; but knowing Jim at Salem and Rice Creek was an orientation in itself into what the Covenant is all about. What a wise and winsome brother in the Lord! Peace to his memory.

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