Mid-America Center for Ministry Graduation

The Mid-America Center for Ministry graduated its final class on Friday, Nov. 10 at Broadway Christian Church.  More than 100 people gathered to honor twelve graduates who completed many rigorous classes to receive their Certificates in Pastoral Ministry - a necessary requirement for Commissioning in the Mid-America Region. 

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We salute four Mid-America pastors who each received their certificate and white pastoral stole.  Pictured on the front row, second to left, Rev. Randy Robb, Clark CC, and on the far right, Rev. Terry Overfelt, Broadway CC and Eric Holmes, Mokane CC.  Not pictured is Rev. Priscilla Nicholson, Huntsville CC. 

 

While the last MCM graduation was bittersweet, there was great excitement as its successor program, the Phillips Seminary Ministry Training Center revealed a very comprehensive 20-course offering for 2018.  Prospective new students are encouraged to contact Leslie Robb LeSieuer at office@m-acm.org for enrollment information.  All courses continue to be on-line and can be completed regardless of the student's location.

Story and photo courtesy of Rev. Dr. Paul Koch.

FCC Festus Annual Coat Giveaway

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First Christian Church in Festus held its annual coat giveaway Saturday, October 21, 2017.  They gave away over 1,200 coats and items of warm clothing to over 218 people during the day.  In addition they gave another 200 items to the Veterans to share with homeless vets and a women's abuse shelter.  Not a bad day for this band of disciples who gather at First Christian Church in Festus, MO!

Thanks to pastor Lari Grubbs for this story and photos.

FCC in Mt. Vernon Celebrates 150 Years of Ministry!

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On Sunday September 17, 2017 more than a 160 members and friends gathered to celebrate this milestone with a formal worship celebration. Speakers included Jean Berg, a 3rd generation member, who spoke to the historical significance of the church.  Dr. G. Mike Weinman, Regional Minister Team member, spoke to the role of the church today and the importance of welcoming all to the table.  Dr. L. Brent Cantrell, Timothy of the church, spoke to the church's witness and ministry moving forward. There was also special music by the Adult and Children's choirs, Bell Choir, God's Rods (youth Sticks ministry of the church), and guest pianist Carl Cunningham who grew up in the congregation, and Harpist, Elizabeth Mosher. The gathering also recognized oldest and youngest members and presented a proclamation on behalf of the Missouri Senate. This special service was followed by a group photo and catered lunch. Thanks be to God for a wonderful day!

Disciples Care Team Meets

Pictured left to right are Dan Kercher, Murrell Arnett, and Larry Colvin.

Pictured left to right are Dan Kercher, Murrell Arnett, and Larry Colvin.

Disciple Care Team (DCT) had their semi-annual gathering September 23 at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia. The team members are pastors, retired pastors, and lay folk who volunteer to visit and represent CCMA and/or CCMA Regional Minister Team. They share happenings in the region, celebrate special events, and bring care.

DCT is also shares in learning. Many participate in boundary training, pro-reconciliation/anti-racism training and other educational events. Each semi-annual gathering also includes a learning component. At the September gathering, Rev. Frank Proctor discussed issues surrounding the closing of congregations. He has studied/shared in the process for several years and is preparing a team to walk along with churches in the process.

Regional Minister Team member Dr. Larry Colvin presented a certificate of appreciation to Murrell Arnett of First Christian Church in Macon for his many years as chairman of DCT. He is a charter member of DCT and, even in stepping down, will continue with the team for an additional three year term. Retired Pastor Dan Kercher of First Christian Church in Cameron was unanimously selected as the new chairman.

Article by Dr. Larry Colvin
Photo by Diane Hall

Parishioners Celebrate Ash Grove Pastor's 20th Anniversary

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On Sunday, July 23, 2017, current and former members, friends and family gathered, filling the sanctuary, to show their love and appreciation to the Rev. Dr. Tom Geer in celebration of his 20th year serving as minister to the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Ash Grove. Before worship, the morning service focused on an expressive, yet humor-filled recognition of Tom’s dedicated pastorate both to the church and in the community. A picnic style lunch followed honoring Rev. Geer with the theme, “With Tom, Life is a Picnic! 20 years and counting…”

Congratulations!

Story and photo courtesy of Marilyn Smith.

 

Enjoying the Eclipse

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August 21st is a day Missourians will long remember, not in infamy, but with smiles generated by fellowships with people from many varied parts of the world.  In the northwest portion of the Region resides a Disciples farm we call The Pulliam Farm.  We are incorporated as The Center for Lifelong Learning and Spiritual Development.

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We served a meal of hotdogs and hamburgers to over 200 eclipse chasers from both coasts and many states in between.  We counted at least twelve states represented on the farm.  Kids played volleyball, badminton, and croquet, while waiting for the eclipse to commence.  During the showers preceding the eclipse many came in our barn and played cards, dominos, quilted, and just sat around fellowshipping with total strangers.

God split the clouds during the buildup to total darkness, then covered the totality for a really dark 2:38 minutes.  It was a wonderful day!

Thanks to Richard Canaday for this story and photos.

Youth from FCC Edwardsville Attend Bigstuf Camp

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The Youth Group from First Christian Church in Edwardsville, Illinois recently attended a week at Bigstuf Camp in Panama City, Florida along with fifteen hundred youth from various churches across the United States.  Our annual trip to Bigstuf is one that the youth and adult sponsors look forward to attending.  We not only get to know one another better but we also witness some of the many ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives and in the lives of others. 

While at Bigstuf, the youth attended morning and evening worship services, participated in small groups, and enjoyed time on the beach together.  The theme of Bigstuf 2017 was "Filters.”  The youth were exposed to lessons about how the filters we use in life change how we see people, each other, and the world.  They were encouraged to see different and to be different, to see others as Jesus saw others, and that the best things in life require a fight.  The youth also learned about making wise decisions, choosing friends that bring out the best in them, and that our actions speak loudly to others.  The speakers did a great job delivering the message to the youth, but it was also a great refresher for the adults in attendance.  

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Following each of the worship sessions, the youth split up into small groups and discussed what they learned from the session.  It was great to hear them speak with one another about the many ways that they hope to impact the lives of others.  One of the ways the youth planned to impact others was to take what they learned at camp and do something with it back home.  Each of the youth left Bigstuf with a challenge card which contained a doable example of how they could filter Jesus to the people around them.  

We plan to attend Bigstuf in 2018 from June 4 through June 8.  Registration opens on September 14 if you have any youth that may be interested in joining us.  

Story and photos courtesy of FCC Edwardsville
Associate Minister Rev. Jeff Wrigley.

Florissant Valley CC Treats the Community with Ice Cream

On Sunday, August 6, Florissant Valley Christian Church members set up tents and tables on the church lawn and offered free ice cream treats to those driving by. Roughly 100 people stopped to enjoy the treats and have fellowship with church members.

To provide ice cream treats for the event, the church engaged an ice cream vending truck.  The congregation gave away roughly $360 in treats. Church members brought sack lunches and paid for their own ice cream treats, and visitors were greeted with a welcome and free treats.

Pastor Mike Dixon commented to one of the visitors, “After I preached this morning about Jesus feeding the Five Thousand with free bread and fish, we fed the community with free ice cream.”  Burma-Shave style signs and the church sign advertised the event ahead of time, and church members and children stood at the sidewalk waving towels and shouting “Free Ice Cream!” helped draw visitors. Church kids and visitor’s kids played lawn games, chased each other, and had a good time, while church members had friendly conversations with the visitors, handing out refrigerator magnets with the church card on them.

The purpose wasn’t to attract new members, though that would be a desired side effect, but to give back to the community and to help visitors discover that Flo Valley is a warm, friendly, and hospitable church. The other purpose was just to make people happy and to create smiles—mission accomplished!

Story and photos courtesy of Interim Pastor Rev. Mike Dixon.

A Leap of Faith for Faith Adventures Camp

In 2014, four ministers from the Ozarks Lake Area met to consider the idea of forming a week long Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) summer camp for youth of all ages attending in one week at one location, that would be closer to Southwest Missouri and less expensive than other summer camps. That July, 57 campers and 23 volunteers started “Faith Adventures Camp” at Lake Pomme de Terre.      

Directors L/R: Brian Knight-CYF (Appleton City FCC), Kay Johnson-JYF (Hermitage CC), Jack Daniel-Coordinator (El Dorado Springs FCC), Vickie Sowers-Try-It (Bolivar FCC), and Sara Compton-Chi Rho (Disciples CC Nevada)

Directors L/R: Brian Knight-CYF (Appleton City FCC), Kay Johnson-JYF (Hermitage CC), Jack Daniel-Coordinator (El Dorado Springs FCC), Vickie Sowers-Try-It (Bolivar FCC), and Sara Compton-Chi Rho (Disciples CC Nevada)

This year, Faith Adventures Camp celebrated its fourth year of camp fun and faith during the week of July 24th -28th. What started out as a leap of faith four years ago has grown into a giant leap in campers, staff, and faith experiences. The Disciples of Christ camp is located at Camp Hebron, a non-denominational church camp and retreat facility on Lake Pomme de Terre, near Pittsburg, Missouri. 2017 Faith Adventures Camp included 132 campers, 45 volunteer staff, and 22 churches from across the Mid-America Region. Rev. Jack Daniel, pastor of El Dorado Springs First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the coordinator, running all four camps in one week. Rev Daniel says, “Our hope is that all who attend camp, Try-It (K-2ndGrade), JYF (3rd -5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th), CYF (9th-12th Grade) and the many adults involved, will grow in faith and understanding. Our greatest hope is that everyone's lives will be transformed by the Living Christ. My personal saying is ‘Come as you are...leave a changed person.’”

Jack invites Rachel to address the group.

Jack invites Rachel to address the group.

The 2017 Theme was “Unchained…the Adventures of Paul.” In aligning with the “Unchained” theme, the mission project for the week collected $1,174.22for Camp David of the Ozarks, a camp for children of incarcerated parents, located near Rolla. Rachel King from Camp David of the Ozarks spoke to Faith Adventures’ campers about the mission of the camp. The money raised will go toward helping youth with incarcerated parents attend Camp David’s Angel Tree Summer Camp.  

Matt Limback, Regional Co-Coordinator of Youth and Summer Ministries for Mid-America Region and JYF counselor for the week

Matt Limback, Regional Co-Coordinator of Youth and Summer Ministries for Mid-America Region and JYF counselor for the week

 

Faith Adventures Camp is a part of the Summer Ministries of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ). To view this year’s Faith Adventures Camp video or for more information about Faith Adventures Camp, visit their website at www.faithadventurescamp.com.

 

Thanks to Barbara Walsh for this story and photos.

FCC Mt. Vernon Celebrates 150 Years of Ministry

First Christian Church of Mt. Vernon celebrates 150 years of ministry in their community. An old-fashioned tent revival was held on June 24th with guest speaker Pastor Jack Daniel of First Christian Church of El Dorado, who provided an inspiring message. Blue-grass musicians "That Dalton Gang" entertained the crowd. A free BBQ meal, bounce house, and face painting were provided as a way of saying "thanks" to the community.

Chuukese Youth Rally Held in St. Joseph

The annual Chuukese Youth Rally was held in St. Joseph June 15-18.  This four-day  rally brought together between 500 and 600 Chuukese youth (youth being understood as young adults in the Midwest) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from across the US and Micronesia. The entire event was punctuated with praise, joyous singing, and dancing. 

This year’s theme was: “Come Follow Me,” with four sub-themes, “Value People, Connect People, Serve People, and Influence People.” The theme was incorporated in all parts of the rally but was a particular focus of sessions held on Thursday and Friday. Rev. IS Phillik, Pastor of Chuukese Christian Church in St. Joseph and one of the organizers of this year’s rally; Rev. Terrell McTyer of Hope Partnership; Rev. Brian Kirk, pastor of First Christian Church in St. Joseph; and Regional Minister Team member Dr. Larry Colvin delivered messages and/or presented workshops.

Saturday was devoted to sporting competitions, games, fellowship, and other interactive events which included good food. Even a Midwest thunderstorm with heavy winds and hard rain did not dampen the festivities.

Closing worship Sunday was a day of exuberant celebration. In addition to the continuation of praise, singing, and dancing, there was much more. A feet washing was performed in order to prepare leaders from various states so they are able to lead as all join to, “Follow Me.” There was a blessing of women as they were celebrated for the special ministries they perform in families and congregations. A laying on of hands and prayers were offered for nine new pastors as they begin their ministries across the US and Micronesia. Of course, all celebrated in the sharing of the Lord’s Supper. In all, the four days was far too short.

Article by Dr. Larry Colvin
Photos by Dr. Larry Colvin, Rev. Terrell McTyre, and Debbie Colvin

CRY Cabinet Holds Final Planning Meeting for Festival

The Christian Regional Youth (CRY) Festival youth leadership team met for their final planning meeting in preparation for the 2017 CRY Festival this past weekend at Webster Groves Christian Church in St. Louis.  The Cabinet members meet four times throughout the year at various regional locations to plan, pray, prepare for the upcoming CRY Festival, develop leadership skills, and serve in the host communities.

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This past Friday evening and Saturday morning, the youth and adult sponsors spent four hours in service at both WGCC and Webster Rock Hill Ministries.  Together, they packaged laundry detergent, planted bushes and weeded in the community garden and rain garden, cleaned up the yard and compost bins, assisted in the food pantry and distribution center, and much more.  

 

 

The C.R.Y. Festival is July 17-20th at Drury University in Springfield, MO.  Youth from across the Mid-America Region who have completed grades 8-12 are welcome to attend.  More information and registration links can be found at www.mid-america.org/summer/  We hope you'll join us at C.R.Y. this summer!! 

 

 

 

Story and photos courtesy of Kris Milliron who serves as CRY Coordinator, and Youth Director at FCC Marshall.

Kahala Cannon Visits Mid-America

Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin, Rev. Brian Kirk, and Dr. Kahala Cannon at FCC in St. Joseph.

Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin, Rev. Brian Kirk, and Dr. Kahala Cannon at FCC in St. Joseph.

Dr. Kahala Cannon began her missionary visit through Mid-America May 1. Kahala, a member of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, TN is a dentist who has practiced dentistry in Tenessee and New York City. After taking part in People to People trips through Global Ministries, she received a call to serve in India at Mungali. There she continued her practice as well as taught in the nursing school. From there, Kahala found herself in a whole new ministry in South Korea.

 

 

 

In Korea Kahala taught English for grades 1-12. She also was a part of the witness of prayer for the re-unification of the Korean peninsula. She shares that despite the uneasiness of the 64 year old cease fire which separates the Korean people there is no fear of aggression from the north as there is an understanding that they are family. Just as God brought down the Berlin wall and united Germany, hope is the day will come God will bring down the wall separating families in Korea.

 

Global Ministries, the joint overseas ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, thanks all the churches and persons from across Mid-America for being gracious hosts for Kahala. Her visit concluded on May 31st. 

Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin.
Left: Slideshow of photos from her experience that
Kahala shared in her presentations.

43rd Annual Hike Against Hunger

On April 22nd Memorial Boulevard Christian Church held its’ 43rd Annual Hike Against Hunger. Despite the threat of rain, 30 people from St Louis area churches walked. Our goal is to raise $12,000.00 for clean water projects in Haiti. Judi Frost, Co-Chair of the Week of Compassion joined us for the Hike. 

Many felt the presence of Vera Parks who died shortly before this year’s Hike. Vera, an Elder at Memorial, helped start the Hike with her request for Memorial to sponsor her in a Crop Walk. At the time the pastor, Rev Rhodes Thompson is reported to have said, “Why don’t we do our own Hike for Hunger?” That’s how Memorial Boulevard Christian Church began its Annual Hike Against Hunger.

With a few exceptions, the Hike has benefited a part of the world where hunger issues are great. The particular country and need is chosen with the help of the staff at Week of Compassion in conjunction with people at Memorial. The intention has been to move around the world and benefit the neediest people in any given year. The Hike demonstrates how one person with an idea can spark others to work together to benefit many with God’s help and make a BIG difference!

It is still not too late to make a donation, either to Week of Compassion marked for Memorial’s Hike Against Hunger or to Memorial Boulevard Christian Church (3000 N Kingshighway, St Louis, MO 63115) marked Hike Against Hunger. Money will be collected over the next several months.  

Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Margie Pride and Al Graves.

Faith Adventures Camp Youth Rally

Approximately 80 youth and adults from 11 different Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) gathered at Hermitage Christian Church on Sunday afternoon April 23rd for a Pre-Camp Youth Rally for Faith Adventures 2017 Camp. The afternoon was spent getting acquainted, singing, playing games, watching camp videos from past years, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, and of course eating, which was prepared by members of the Hermitage Christian Church. The camp theme for 2017 is “Unchained.” Rev. Jack Daniel, Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of El Dorado Springs and also Camp Coordinator, addressed the group in his black and white convict outfit discussing Paul’s imprisonment and also the chains that hold each of us back from freedom through Christ.  

Faith Adventures Camp began in 2014 from the brainstorming of four area pastors wanting a closer to home camp, an inexpensive camp, and a one stop drop for all ages in one week camp. The camp is run completely by volunteers. The camp started out with 57 campers and 23 volunteers in 2014 and has grown to nearly 120 campers with over 40 volunteers. For more detailed information about Faith Adventures Camp, visit www.faithadventurescamp.com. All campers are welcome!  

Visit the Mid-America website to register online and to learn more about other summer ministries throughout the Region.

Story and photos courtesy of Barb Walsh,
Faith Adventures Camp Tech

FCC St. Joseph Celebrates Hands-On Art Worship

On most Sundays,  you can expect to find the worship experience at First Christian Church in St. Joseph to be fairly traditional. It is this grounding in the historic liturgical tradition that allows the freedom for FCC to experiment with other worship forms on a handful of Sundays throughout the year. Recently FCC hosted "A.W.E.some Sunday," otherwise known as "Artful Worship Experience" Sunday.  Worshipers gathered around tables in the church's social room and, in addition to praying, singing, hearing scripture, and sharing offering and communion, they created art together.  

The focus of the Sunday was the story of the Road to Emmaus and each table group worked together to create one piece of three large mosaic images depicting different parts of that story. The images were created by tearing pieces of paper from colorful magazine images and gluing them to a pre-drawn outline. Toward the end of worship, all the pieces were brought together to reveal the full images, much like putting together pieces of a puzzle.  The congregation reflected on how the art-making experience itself touched on the themes of the story: how we don't always recognize Christ in our midst until we come together in community and each share our gifts with the whole body.  

The final beautiful mosaic images will be framed and put on display at the church. FCC hosts A.W.E.some Sunday twice yearly, and it is always highly-attended and involves all ages in an exciting experience of connecting with God's creative spirit in worship. 

For more information on how this approach might work with your congregation, please contact pastor Brian Kirk


Thanks to Brian for sharing this story and photos.

Art Show Opens at The Gallery Within WGCC

Webster Groves Christian Church recently held the opening of its newest art show at The Gallery Within. The work of artist Jim Frederick is currently on display and will be up for the next five weeks.

The event included a short performance by the St. Louis Gateway Men’s Chorus, of which Jim is a member. Also part of the evening were words of thanks from Opal Jones, President and CEO of Doorways. Doorways is an interfaith non-profit organization in St. Louis that provides housing and related supportive services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Jim is one of their residents and, together with the church, is donating a portion of the show’s proceeds to support their vital ministry.

The opening was a smashing success, drawing a large crowd, sharing information about Doorways, celebrating Jim’s talent and spirit, affirming diversity and inclusion, and appearing on the front page of the next day’s Post-Dispatch!

The Gallery Within organizes regular gallery shows throughout the year that celebrate the depth of creativity God has gifted us with. It provides a space for artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity to share their talents.

Rev. Michael Dixon Celebrates 50 Years of Ordained Ministry

L to R: Rev. Charles Ackerson, Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona, Rev. Michael Dixon, Rev. La'Vetta Ross-Hall.

L to R: Rev. Charles Ackerson, Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona, Rev. Michael Dixon, Rev. La'Vetta Ross-Hall.

This past Sunday, April 2nd Crossroads Christian Church hosted a very special celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rev. Michael Dixon's ordination. 

He has served extensively in the Southeast Gateway portion of Mid-America as an interim pastor, most recently at Crossroads. In past years years he served Fredericktown Christian Church and he is currently at Florissant Valley Christian Church, both of which had representatives at the event. He continues to serve, as he has for many years, on the Southeast Gateway Commissioning Ministry Team. He maintains relationship with the American Baptist Church, where he has also served over the years.

Many friends and colleagues participated in the special worship and meal, including current Crossroads pastor Rev. La'Vetta Ross-Hall, our Regional Minister Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona, and Rev. Charles Ackerson of the American Baptist Church.

Congratulations, Mike as you celebrate this milestone and continue to serve!

 

Photos courtesy of La'Vetta Hall and Penny Ross-Corona.

Many Mid-America Disciples Make Convocation Memorable

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Ninety participants from just about all of our Convocation congregations plus many others traveled to Willow Street CC in Hannibal on April 1 for a spirited, targeted and worshipful event addressing how to be a faithful 21st century congregation.  The Convocation welcomed Pastor Charlie Blackmon from the newly combined congregation of Restoration Christian Community Church and rejoiced for the growth and transformation taking place there.  The group was also very glad to welcome Patricia Penelton, National Convocation Board President. Worship, workshops, dance, the procession of banners, words from our moderator Vickie Sowers and Regional Minister Team members Drs. Penny Ross-Corona and Paul Koch, great food and fellowship filled the day along with a special surprise tribute to Rev. M. Faye Vaughn, Convocation Coordinator Emerita for her past 23 years of shepherding the annual event.

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan

National speakers, the Rev. Dr.  R. Wayne Calhoun, Executive for Evangelism and Congregational Transformation for Disciples Home Missions and keynoter Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, who serves as a founding executive for the Disciples Justice Action Network spoke in the same accord.  Both identify the historic and urgent contributions of African-American Disciples congregations as being vital for the Church needed today and beyond.  Dr. Sullivan said that Convocation churches have the innate obligation to stand firm for justice and societal transformation for equality.  He said, "You can advocate for justice and not be Christian, but you can't be Christian and not advocate for justice."  Dr. Calhoun echoed that congregations cannot afford the luxury of merely taking care of their members and accepting the status quo.  He said,  "Jesus is calling us to seize the opportunity before us." 

After witnessing the brief but always stimulating presentation from the Mid-America Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism team, Dr. Calhoun took a moment to go out of his way to applaud the Christian Church of Mid-America for our outstanding educational offerings, voice and activity to bring the general church forward in being a truly Reconciling Church.  Our program and efforts lead just about all the other regions in content and enthusiasm.  "Give yourself a pat on the back Mid-America." 

Convocation Co-Coordinators Paula Holliday and LeWanda Jackson were especially pleased by all who came out (even as far away as Joplin and an entire busload from Centennial CC in St. Louis).  

Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Dr. Paul Koch. Additional photos courtesy of Paula Holliday and Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona.

Rev. Kevin Cravens-Koch Installed at National Avenue CC

On Sunday, March 19, 2017, National Avenue Christian Church celebrated the installation of Rev. Kevin Cravens-Koch, who has been serving as co-pastor alongside of Rev. Jenn Simmons since January. This service also served as a blessing of ministry for NACC as they move into a collaborative model of ministry. Rev. Kim Gage Ryan, Director of the Bethany Fellows, gave the sermon and Rev. Mike Weinman participated as the representative from the Region for this occasion.

Rev. Kevin Cravens-Koch grew up in Northern Kentucky where he lived until he moved to Lexington, Kentucky to attend college at Transylvania University. He completed his studies at Transylvania University in 2011 where he graduated with a BA in Religion and a minor in Psychology.  He received his MDiv from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was ordained in May of 2014. Rev. Cravens-Koch and his husband Ryan moved to Springfield from Georgetown, Kentucky where Kevin served as Minister of Families and Faith Formation at First Christian Church.