After 31 years, Steve Thulson has decided it's time to step down as the lead pastor at Centennial Covenant Church. Thankfully, Thulson said, he feels pretty good about his replacement. Karl Helvig, …
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After 31 years, Steve Thulson has decided it's time to step down as the lead pastor at Centennial Covenant Church.
Thankfully, Thulson said, he feels pretty good about his replacement.
Karl Helvig, the church's youth pastor, will step in to take Thulson's spot at the pulpit in early February.
Thulson said the decision to step down was emotional.
“It's a lot of mixed feelings,” said Thulson, 67. “It's the right thing to do, and I love what I've done. But at the same time, the feeling isn't dissimilar from when I gave my eldest daughter away at her wedding. Here I am, giving away my church.”
Helvig wasn't appointed, said David Dillon, the worship pastor for the church in south Littleton that sees regular attendance of about 325 parishioners.
“About a year ago, when Steve let us know he'd be stepping down, we started searching,” Dillon said. “A lot of us felt Karl would be great, but we put a lot of prayer into this. We needed to check in with God.”
When the congregation finally voted on Jan. 13, the results were overwhelming: 180 to 1 in favor of Helvig.
Longtime church attendees won't be put off, Helvig said.
“Overall the core and fundamental values and culture of the church will stay the same,” Helvig said. “The differences will come in my style and personality. I'm highly energetic and wildly creative. I like to try things that haven't been tried before.”
Helvig said he's excited to bring his background in Classical Greek and Biblical exegesis to the church.
“I'm focused on the text itself,” said Helvig, 37. “I take the history of the language and culture, and I do all I can to make it engaging and lively. Storytelling is a great way for people to learn.”
Centennial is an Evangelical Covenant church, Dillon said.
“We've got more than 800 congregations around the U.S.,” Dillon said. “The thing we hear consistently is how welcoming we are. It's very vibrant worship.”
Thulson's retirement is bittersweet, Dillon said, since he led the church from its early days. The church was chartered in 1985, and Thulson took over in 1987.
Helvig was a great choice to continue the church's legacy of liveliness, Thulson said.
“The church is in good hands,” Thulson said. “It gives me a lot of peace.”
The topic of Thulson's final sermon?
“I'm out of here, so here's what I really think,” Thulson joked.
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