Meet: Kelley Ahlers, Director of Youth Ministries

This month Kelley Ahlers joined Grace UMC as the new Director of Youth Ministries. We are thrilled to have her and her family at our church and got her to answer a few questions so you can learn more about her…

Kelley Ahlers and family

Q. Tell us a little about your family!

A. We often refer to our home/life as a rainbow of chaos. With 5 kids and 4 pets, there is always something going on. Sierra is finishing up a degree in Behavioral Therapy at Meredith. Jada and Sydney are playing every sport they can at Trask Middle school. Zack is fencing and working through a classical education with our homeschool group, Classical Conversations. Ryan joined our family a little over a year ago and every day is growing and adjusting to our family while blessing us with his gentle spirit and strength.

While cheering for each other at sporting events or singing along as Corey writes songs and performs around town, we try to share our faith through the way we walk with compassion and grace. It is not easy and it is very busy, but we have a strong center that we know will be strengthened by our new church family at Grace UMC.

Q. Where were you before Grace UMC?

A. I started in youth ministry 22 years ago when I began working at a church plant with my father in Emerald Isle. I left my last church about five years ago to focus on homeschooling, but just a year later I opened a FairTrade coffee shop in Emerald Isle. After selling the shop and moving to Wilmington, I have been tutoring and working with a homeschool group.

Q. What inspired you to apply for the job at Grace UMC?

A. A friend who had worked with me over the years told me that Grace was looking for a Youth Director. We had been searching for a church home here and I really missed working with youth. I reached out through the Grace website to send my resume and when I came for an interview I felt like it was where I needed to be. Everyone was and has been so welcoming. I’m not sure if it was inspiration or just a sense of coming into a family that we had been searching for that led me to say yes.

Q. What do you think if the hardest thing about being a teenager and young adult today?

A. The world is so open today. Between computer screens and cell phones, everything is at their fingertips. There is something very exposed about the way teens operate, like life truly is a stage. When you are working through those awkward phases, trying to make good decisions, and just bumping through growing up, it is not just between you and a few friends. Everyone knows what King David went through, the struggles Job had, and all the mistakes Paul made as he stumbled toward Christ. Now every child is David, Job, and Paul; having to find their way with the world watching. Each child’s life is becoming a testament to their strength and their faith, whether they want people to watch or not. My hope is that the church and those who they meet will show them the grace and love God showed David, Job, and Paul.

Q. What are your primary goals for the young adult program in the next few years? 

A. I don’t really have any overall goals, I think they will come about as I learn more about the church and the people at Grace. My goals are more for what I hope to do with each child/young adult.

I think it is important to provide three things to every person who walks through the church doors. The first is to show others how we walk with Christ in our own lives. The second is to give them the tools to handle whatever life throws at them. The third is the chance to go out with us and work in God’s world. I think by seeing, learning, and doing we are truly leading people to the cross.

1. My first goal is to see our that church as a whole is walking beside each child who comes through the door. I would like the kids to have an opportunity to connect and learn the stories of the people who make Grace work.
2. Then it is my job to find resources, people, and various ways to open up the Bible and our Christian history to them. I would like to see each teenager as they leave to go into the adult world have a strong foundation of Faith to stand on.
3. The last thing I hope to see is a growth in the opportunities for each of our youth to have the chance to share their faith with others. As they bring friends to church, work in our community, and seek out opportunities to reach even further; I feel like our church will be blessed by everything they do.

My hope is that through our youth program we are doing just that.