Casey Franklin felt the call to plant a church in Denver, Colorado. When he was pondering what denomination the church would be, he re-examined the Covenant church: its history, roots, and theology. “It really brought back my spiritual foundation at Minnehaha.” He had so many thoughts and memories of his faith foundation at MA, such as: “These are my spiritual roots to everything that I am learning now, which I never really knew. I have come full circle. This is my tribe. This is why I am the way I am--this is why my theology is the way it is! This is where I really fit. This is why I feel so much at home with the Covenant.” All that spiritual formation was planted deeply at a young age through MA. That’s why he appreciates it even more now. As he looks back, it’s all part of the deeper connection of how God formed him, was with him, and guided his life from a young age.
Hearing God's Call
It all started at MA his junior year, when he felt called to ministry. He felt such a strong connection to the Bible Classes, and especially Rabbi Swanson’s classes. “Once I figured him out, I took every class he offered. I really enjoyed both his teaching and his care for students. Rabbi had this funny policy that if you were tardy more than 3 times, he would take you out to eat at the Lake Street Garage. And I got taken out a few times!” Rabbi took a special interest in him and was a huge influence in his spiritual formation. Reading and discussing books, including Pilgrim’s Progress and books by C.S. Lewis was both foundational and formative in his spiritual development.
Casey went on to the University of Northwestern at St. Paul after graduation and double majored in Bible and Business. He wrestled with whether he should do full time ministry. After graduation, he became a Youth Pastor for several years and served different churches in Bloomington, MN. He got married and moved to Colorado in 2002 right after their first daughter was born and took a hiatus from full-time ministry for a few years. When he was in Evergreen, Colorado, he felt the call to plant a church. His best friend had just moved back to Minnesota, and he called him up and said, “I feel like I‘m supposed to plant a church.” His friend encouraged him both to do it, and to check out the Covenant. “The rest is history.” He really enjoyed getting back into the Covenant; “It was like coming home.”
Planting A Church
Casey planted Inversion Covenant Church (inversiondenver.org) which meets on Saturday nights at an existing Covenant Church called Centennial Covenant. They set out to reach unchurched people and started with a unique strategy for doing that through meetup.com. Meetup.com is a website that was started as a social club (non-religious) in the wake of 9/11 by some of the survivors in New York City who felt the need to get people off technology and get them to meet face to face in affinity groups. Once you sign up, you can find groups with all kinds of different interests that are meeting near you and get to know people. They started their own group called the South Denver Social Club seven years ago, and now have over 3200 subscribers. The first weekend they opened the group, 30 people signed up, and they had 30 total strangers show up at their house for a game night with food. “Denver is transient--everyone is from somewhere else, so it makes it easier to meet people. They come with a dream to hike and ski all the time, but don’t always have the basics figured out – like a job and a place to live. And they want to make friends and experience authentic community.”
When they first started, Casey called their group youth ministry for adults. He planned fun events like bowling or dance nights for the groups, and when people showed up, showed them hospitality and love. Soon they planted a church. They have been self-sustaining financially for a few years now but are still small and have their struggles. They still use meetup.com to get volunteers for their community food bank every Saturday and invite them to worship. Their strategy is to reach out to both the people who need the food and to the people who come to volunteer and are looking to make a difference. “We are hanging in there, having a lot of fun, and reaching a lot of people. I really enjoying what we are doing,” says Casey.
To The Alums
What would he say to other alumni? “I cherish that I was able to go to MA. I’m so thankful and feel so blessed and proud. I will always have the memories to look back on. It wasn’t perfect, but I am really thankful for it. If I still lived in Minneapolis, I would love to send my daughter to Minnehaha. Some of my friends and classmates have kids at Minnehaha, and I have to admit I’m a little bit jealous.”