Spice of Life

Crosstown's Longest Running Ministry Hangs Up The Apron

In a time when the church hosted basketball, bowling, and women’s softball leagues...
When the church had weekly donated chancel flowers, saw over 400 children in Sunday school, hosted multiple choirs and Swedish song fests, there was also a vibrant women’s ministry.  

In the 1960’s Elim Covenant Church Women was a separate functioning body with its own elected board, membership, by-laws, and finances. Women became voting members with annual dues of $1.00, and it boasted almost 200 members. The female membership was divided up into service groups titled with Biblical names (Rachel, Rebekah, Dorcas, Sarah…) and a phone directory of the groups was published annually. There were monthly meetings, worship services, speakers, and events.  The budget was full of line item donations to the mother church, Elim Covenant, along with local senior facilities, Minnehaha Academy, other non-profits and missionaries.  This organization partnered closely with the Covenant Women’s Ministry.

The first record of Spice of Life meetings is from the early 1970s.  Daisy Hepburn, founder of Spice, saw a need to evangelize to the community.  Being a child of Salvation Army missionaries, she was accustomed to grassroots efforts. Evangelism was in her blood. A neighbor came to visit Daisy and shared some of the seasoned salt that she had created. Daisy was struck by the wonderful idea of sharing spice with one another and a plan for Spice began to form. The vision was to create a morning gathering with specific focus on outreach to the mothers in the neighborhood.

Women went door to door inviting neighbors to Spice. Child care was always provided so that the mother could enjoy the activity (craft, exercise, music). Food was provided by the table hostess, and a Biblical message was presented. To help better facilitate conversations, Daisy advocated switching from rectangle tables to round gathering tables which Crosstown still uses. For stay-at-home moms this was a very well-received ministry. Every Spice preached the gospel of Christ, as was Daisy’s heart.
Daisy Hepburn had a passion for female Christian leadership and authored a number of books on that topic:  
“Life with Spice”
“Why Doesn't Somebody Do Something? How you too can work for good in your community”
“Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way!”
“Look, You're a Leader!; A New Look at Servant-Leadership for Women”
“What's So Glorious about Everyday Living?”  
“Never Underestimate the Power of God's Woman“
After a number of years Daisy was called to serve in a new location and moved away but her impact was so powerful and the ministry so meaningful that it couldn't end.

The leadership reins for Spice had passed to Sharon Peterson and then to Bev Lohmann. Women’s ministry began to evolve and by 1987 at the merger of Elim Covenant Church and Park Avenue Covenant, ministry was no longer divided into service groups, but divided by functions and called “Circles.” Bev recalls the moment she knew God was calling her to lead Spice. Bev states she made a “bargain with God.” She would take over Spice if Ruth Holm would agree to catering the food.  Bev mustered up her courage and approached Ruth in the parking lot to ask the big question.  “I asked if she would cook for Spice and I would manage. She didn’t even let me finish the question because she was so intent on making Spice go.”  Bev explains that she had two goals in taking over the ministry.  She wanted to keep the spirit of Daisy’s mission alive and keep the cost low so that everyone was able to attend. The priority was Biblical programming and fellowship.

Spice of Life continued to see high attendance. Women’s Commission meeting minutes state: “June 5, 1989 Bev Lohman reports they had 240 people at May Spice. Needed to use side Sunday School rooms but that is not the best.  It is a tremendous outreach and we don’t want to turn ladies away because of space.  We decided to ask the council if we could replace the walls of those 3 rooms with sliding doors.  They might be shocked but we’ll try!”  

Eventually a new moms’ ministry started at Crosstown and there was a discussion about Spice programming.  Per Kay Anderson’s notes “However, times were changing and fewer young women were attending and many had begun to work outside the home. The older women were still interested in gathering and bringing friends but were not particularly interested in the craft angle of the meeting.  Following consideration, Crosstown decided to continue Spice under the new format which was more interesting to this group of women and provided a wealth of potential speakers.”  A good Spice program formula became: Speaker + Entertainment + Food.
The monthly programming saw a wide variety of presenters.  Bev’s two favorite gatherings included women modeling their wedding dresses and sampling/riding a go-cart that was heading to missions in Africa. There were also gardeners, chefs, therapists, musical groups, gift wrapping specialists, and store owners.

In time, Spice did break the gender barrier and men were invited to join. Leadership of Spice was passed to Sue Bjurlin and Louise Danley in 2013. The calendar was adjusted to focus on quarterly gatherings instead of monthlyLouise describes a desire to see the quality of programming stay high with a focus on education and musical groups. One of her favorite Spice events was a harpist concert, and Sue’s was the We Three Kings musical program. There were also educational animal visits from Como Zoo, historical lessons about the Statue of Liberty and Corrie Ten Boom, and entertainment with fashion shows and magicians. Spice of Life was an event that you saved on your calendar and were comfortable inviting your friends to attend with you.
The meals continued to be an essential part of Spice fellowship. After they moved from table hosts providing food it became necessary to have a caterer.  This was often done by a willing or hired member of the church, but occasional events were catered by an outside organization. There have been many, many willing hands over the years to help organize food and complete cleanup.  Far too many to name, but we are grateful for their support.  Eventually the cost of putting on the program started to increase and volunteer manpower began to decrease. The decision has been made to officially close Spice of Life.  

When Bev Lohlamn was asked why she thinks Spice lasted so long as a ministry, she gave two reasons.  The first was that people value fellowship and the second was that Daisy’s leadership was so inspiring that we were carrying on her legacy. Sue Bjurlin agreed that Daisy was a catalyst for outreach and the Spice programming was non-threatening and easy to invite someone to. For all the leaders of Spice, sharing the gospel in every meeting was essential.  After 40 years of ministry and thousands of attendees Spice of Life completes its course. Daisy Hepburn made disciples at Elim that carried on ministry to Crosstown which has a kingdom impact even after this ministry ends.



Information for this article compiled by Kristi Johnson and collected by interview with Bev Lohman, Sue Bjurlin, and Louise Danley along with review of Elim Covenant Church Women’s archives and Crosstown Covenant Church archives.
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