WHEATON – The Rev. Kellen Smith, the new senior pastor/head of staff at First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, said he looks forward to leading the church as it expands its presence in the community.
“The church is already doing some wonderful things in the community, and I think the degree to which we can further that would be wonderful,” the 35-year-old Smith said. “One of the biggest things that I heard throughout the interview process and in my first few weeks here is our desire to be able to reach out to and attract younger families.”
Smith previously served as associate pastor for youth and young adults at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania.
“I have a passion for ministry with young adults and young families,” he said.
He and his wife, Sarah, have two small children, Hadley, 2, and 3-month-old Hudson. Smith started at the church in June and his first sermon to the congregation was July 2.
Smith said he was attracted to First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton because of its “great legacy of mission and ministry.”
In 2009, First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Jon Wylie, the church’s head of external communications, said Smith fits well into the church and its mission.
“He’s a heck of a preacher,” Wylie said. “We’ve seen that already. And that’s one of the things the church told us they wanted. I think he’s going to be open to a lot of new ideas. I think he will be bringing in a lot of new young families. But I think he can resonate with everyone here.”
Smith, in turn, said he has felt welcomed at the church. “In our church rotunda and on the church website, we have this phrase, ‘We welcome you as we would welcome Christ himself,’” Smith said. “And my family has felt that to be true, even in these first few weeks. It’s not just a message that’s on the wall or on the website, but it’s actually something that is lived and we’ve really experienced that to be true.”