Greetings, Kessler Park UMC! 

I am delighted to be welcomed into this vibrant community as your new youth minister. 

Although I am only in my second day on staff, Kessler Park UMC has in small ways floated in and out of my radar for several years. One of my best friends in high school (I attended the Townview Magnet School not too far down the road) attended KPUMC as a child, and the passion that this place and its people has for community, mission and justice—especially in the example of the Reconciling identity marker—has for several years been intriguing and important to me as a candidate for ministry in North Texas.

If I’m being honest, even as someone called to ordained ministry as a deacon in the UMC, I sometimes wrestle with the institutional aspects of the church, especially those aspects that to me do not embody the fullness of God’s radical love and dream for justice and peace to all people and all of creation. To be able to express this honestly both in my initial conversations with Pastor Wes about this position, and later in my interview with SPRC, was a breath of fresh air. It also confirmed that this place is a place ever-striving to do God’s work of radically inviting and loving others. I am thrilled to be here because I already love the nature of this place, and to nurture and journey with youth is doubly exciting.  (It’s also a perk that I get to work with my Aunt Yvonne!)  

To share a bit more about myself and my background, I was born and raised in East Dallas in a small family that taught me the importance of generosity and caring for the earth. Aside from school, I was active in Girl Scouts, violin and piano lessons, and the various UMC churches in which mother served—especially FUMC in Rockwall. I went to Hendrix College in Arkansas, the place that blessed me with some of my dearest and most inspiring friends, allowed me to explore my early call to ministry, and taught me more about myself and the world than I ever had before. I then moved to Boston in August 2012 to participate in a young adult faith, social justice and leadership development community called Life Together, a part of the Episcopal Service Corps. I lived in intentional community, worked in a dynamic Episcopal church where I got to explore my passion for the intersection of food, justice, sustainability and faith, and explored contemplative prayer alongside learning skills like community organizing. 

I then attended seminary at Boston University School of Theology, where I continued to grow and develop these interests and further expand a love of theology theology’s ability to communicate the most urgent and important issues of society and the church. Boston gave me amazing friends, introduced me to my husband and the wild and wonderful journey of marriage, nurtured my interest in activism, and challenged and strengthened my faith in amazing ways. After graduating in May, my husband Chris and I packed up five years of memories and moved to Dallas. I am delighted to be back in my hometown, embarking on new journeys in a familiar place.

Youth ministry profoundly shaped my life and the decisions that I made to explore faith, ethical living, and life in community.  It taught me about a God who loves me and all fully, and about Jesus who lived and died to show us what risky, vulnerable, fleshy love looks like for the transformation of our own lives and our world.  We live in a nation and world that is tumultuous in many ways, but it is into the brokenness and beauty of all of it where God calls us to work—and to put our young people at the center of leading and discovering that work with creativity. 

What a gift and privilege to accompany, empower, guide, and play with the youth of this congregation and community. I pray for God’s guidance and courage as we work together. And I’ll be reaching out to learn more from you and ask for your support!

With gratitude,
Eva Englert-Jessen