McCLURE - When Stephen Kriner walked into Samuel's Church for the first time, he said he felt like he was at home. He described the atmosphere of the church as "friendly, encouraging and uplifting," with a group of kids who have the potential to grow in their faith.
In June, the Dubois native officially joined the congregation as the church's first youth pastor.
"It was exactly the same from our perspective. Steve felt like family," said the Rev. Clark Kelsey, pastor of the church, adding that Kriner was the best fit for the position among all who applied.
The Rev. Clark Kelsey stands with Youth Pastor Stephen Kriner on Thursday outside Samuel's Church in McClure.
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Kelsey said previous youth leaders at Samuel's Church always have been volunteers and usually are women. With a group of 25 youth that consists of approximately 75 percent boys, the church recognized its need for male guidance.
"Maybe it's time we hire a youth pastor," Kelsey said they determined.
He explained that it took about a year of meetings to sift through those who applied for the position. In the end, Kelsey said there was a mutual feeling of family between Kriner and the church.
IF YOU GO:
What: First K.I.C.S.
program of the school year
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Samuel's Church, McClure
What: E.P.I.C. R.I.O.T.
When: 6-9 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Call Stephen Kriner at 250-9691 for more information.
"It is a huge blessing that I am in the position I am," Kriner said.
He was in his senior year at Bible Baptist College when his aunt visited Samuel's Church and learned of the open position. Kriner submitted his job application and received a call back. He started as youth pastor at the church within a month after graduation, and was married to his wife, Bethany, in July.
"God really orchestrated this," he said.
Since his first day at Samuel's Church, Kriner said his goal has been to encourage the youth of the congregation to grow in their faith.
"The ultimate goal is for the (youth) to have a personal relationship with Christ as their savior," he said.
Along with that, Kriner said he hopes children and teens will pursue the likeness of God and affect the world.
Samuels Church has two youth programs, he said. Kids in Christ's Service serves children from birth through 12th grade. K.I.C.S. meets on the second and fourth Sunday night of each month during the school year.
Every Person in Christ Reaching Individuals Out There, or E.P.I.C. R.I.O.T., invites sixth through 12th grade youth to hang out and have fun. Kriner said E.P.I.C. R.I.O.T. meets bi-weekly at someone's home for games and a Bible lesson. They also get together for boating, ice skating, pool parties and mission trips.
"We're a family-oriented church ... learning to live God's way," Kelsey said.
Worship services are held at 9 a.m. on Sundays at Samuel's Church, 480 Samuel's Church Road, McClure. For more information, call Stephen Kriner at 250-9691, or call the church at 543-5276.