It's Nothing without Kids Congregation Wants to Get Youth More Involved

By Luebke, Nancy | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 16, 2000 | Go to article overview

It's Nothing without Kids Congregation Wants to Get Youth More Involved


Luebke, Nancy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


First United Methodist Church in Glen Ellyn is making sure that the youth population of the 938-member congregation is involved in all aspects of the church.

So a new three-person ministry team is onboard with a focus on the church youth.

Associate Pastor Claude King, Pastor Adrienne Ann Ilseman as minister of education, and Katy Valentine, coordinator of children's ministries, make up the new team that will be working with youngsters to teens, or about 20 to 25 percent of the church membership.

The new ministry team was the result of a resignation and feelings that the congregation had grown to the point of needing an associate pastor, coupled with retreat and vision group findings that there was a greater need for more youth programs.

"We have thriving programs for children up to the fifth-grade level," said Kay Kendall, chairperson of the staff parish relations. "We wanted to strengthen our junior and senior high programs. We were looking for someone who would be dedicated to the youth in that age range."

Enter King, who will focus on junior and senior high school age youth. King, or PC for Pastor Claude as he is called by the church's youth, is the youngest of six children and the son of a retired United Methodist pastor and former Chicago Southern District superintendent. He comes from a long line of family called to minister - his grandfather, four uncles, a brother and sister. His background and childhood experiences were also some of the reasons he was such a good fit for the congregation.

"When our congregation had a chance to meet with him, Pastor King spoke about his own experiences as a Christian youth," Kendall said. "He talked to us about testing the boundaries as the son of a pastor, and he expressed the reasons why he wanted to focus on the youth in our church"

King, who has been a minister since 1982 and became pastor of his first church in 1991 in his hometown of Chicago, takes seriously his decision to specialize on the youth population of the congregation.

"Most churches don't have the youth involved in all aspects - there's youth church and adult church. But not here. At First United Methodist Church, the children are seen, heard and felt in all areas, in all their glory," King said.

Since arriving in July, King, Ilseman and Valentine along with members of the congregation, have been meeting and planning what they want to accomplish during the coming year. Although it's too early to get specific, King has an idea where his experience and guidance will have an impact on the youth.

"I realize that the decisions that young people make now can lead them onto a totally different path in their lives," he said. "These decisions can affect their whole lives. …

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