Church: Neillsville – New Youth Pastor (Living Hope - 2018)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Rhode, Weise, Stitcher
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 8/29/2018
Neillsville – New Youth Pastor to Serve (Living Hope Church -2018)
New Youth Pastor to Serve at Living Hope Church
By Valorie Brecht
Kevin Rhode is eager to have opportunity to work with the young people of Neillsville.
On Aug. 13, he began his position as associate pastor of Student Ministries at Living Hope Evangelical Free Church. The church is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA).
“I’m excited that God’s timing brought me up here,” he said.
Kevin is from Greenfield, a suburb of Milwaukee. He graduated with a biblical studies degree from Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL in 2013.
For a long time, Rhode has known he wanted to serve as a youth pastor.
“When I went to school I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I attended there,” he said.
“I knew I was gonna be [a youth pastor]; I just didn’t know the timing of it,” he explained.
Kevin has experience leading youth for the past nine years. During his time in college, he returned to his home church weekly to help with the youth group there. After college, he worked with middle and high school students as the resident intern at The Ridge Community Church in Milwaukee.
“The Ridge gave me a really awesome internship and I learned a lot of leadership through them,” Kevin commented.
Kevin heard about the opening at Living Hope Church through Rob Weise. Weise is director of Student and Family Ministries and District Events for the Forest Lakes District of the EFCA.
The story actually begins with Kevin’s old college roommate, Jarrod Stitcher. Jarrod was Kevin’s youth leader for a couple of years when he was in high school.
“He came as an intern when I was a junior in high school, and he poured into me and spent a lot of time with me and invested a lot with me. Actually, he was the reason I went to Trinity.
“Well, Jarrod, after he graduated from Trinity and got a job in Illinois, eventually he got a job up here in Wausau at Highland Community Church. So, he’s been wanting to get me up in this area for a while,” explained Kevin.
Jarrod contacted Wiese who then contacted Kevin about four months ago in regard to the position.
After living near big cities and working at churches with large congregations, Kevin is looking forward to a change of pace with this new position.
“I am excited to just learn the culture,” he said. “I’m just excited to be in a small town and … learn everything I can about the community.”
As youth pastor, Kevin will be leading middle school and high school students Wednesday nights at “The Grotto,” and old house on the corner of West and Fourth Street that is the meeting place for Living Hope Student Ministries.
Kevin explained that he will be in charge of the weekly activities such as Bible teaching and games.
“[I’ll be] leading that, leading leaders, pretty much just being involved in the students’ lives,” he stated.
Kevin desires to encourage and equip students to become leaders within the youth group.
“I’d like to,” he said. “As of right now, they don’t have too much of that. It’s always fun if you can get a high schooler to help out with middle school or get a middle school leader, that kind of thing.”
Beyond Wednesday nights, Kevin has plans for community events. He would like to see ‘The Grotto’ opened up for more events, such as being a hangout place after football games.
The youth group will continue participating in “Serve Clark County” each year, a week of summer spent serving various people in our community. The youth will also be attending the Districts Youth conference in January. Young people from across the Forest Lakes District of the EFCA will gather in Green Bay for a three-day conference. The Forest Lakes District covers all of Wisconsin and parts of Illinois and Minnesota. Roughly 3,500 students have attended the event in the past, said Kevin.
“I’m so excited to go to that conference and see what the students take out of there and be able to build from stuff like that,” said Kevin.
Kevin is hopeful for how the youth group will grow this year. One of his main goals it to build community.
“My goal is to create a community where students are bringing their friends to youth group after school. So, I love a place where it feels safe, it’s fun, where students just have to invite their friends. I don’t want it to be a place where it’s for perfect people and it’s just for us Christian kids to come hang out. I think youth group is much bigger than that,” he said.
Kevin also hopes that the teens in youth group will be able to positively influence those around them.
“Students have a lot of potential. And sometimes we look down on them, but a lot of people are looking at students for the future. So, if we can make a positive impact, how cool,” he said.
“I’m excited to see what difference the youth can make in this city. Because I think we can make a big difference.”
Besides spending time with young people, Kevin enjoys golfing, deer hunting and ice fishing. He is engaged to be married to his fiancé, Abigail, in January.
© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.
A site created and
maintained by the Clark County History Buffs