COLUMBIA – A local Presbyterian church has its first full-time education director.
Jonathan "Jon" Nevel recently became the first director of Christian education at Columbia’s Trinity Presbyterian Church. He will coordinate and implement children’s, youth and adult educational programming in cooperation with Trinity’s pastor, the Rev. Rim Massey, and Trinity’s Christian Education Committee, according to a news release from the church. Those responsibilities were previously fulfilled by volunteers or part-time staff.
Nevel began his work at Trinity earlier this fall after moving to Columbia with his wife, a first-year medical student at MU, and learning of the Christian education opportunity from one of her advisers who attends Trinity.
“I’m liking it so far,” Nevel said.
Massey also has been pleased with Nevel’s fit at the church.
“Excellent fit,” Massey said. “Jon’s just what we were looking for, and we didn’t even know it.”
Although Massey said he hopes to include Nevel in leading worship, Nevel’s primary focus at this time is on working with Trinity’s youth.
“One of our goals is to provide consistent leadership for the youth,” Massey said. “(Nevel’s) presence to the youth is important, and that’s something that needs to be stated loudly and clearly.”
Nevel earned his master of divinity degree from Lincoln Christian Seminary and also holds a bachelor’s degree in business information management from Western Illinois University. He has served as program manager for a Christian camp and retreat center in Illinois and as a young-adult intern at his home church in Springfield, Ill. The jump from a secular profession to full-time ministry, he likes to say, is about making a difference in people’s lives.
“I could spend all day fixing a box, or I could spend all day fixing someone’s life,” Nevel said. “Helping people fix their lives seems like a much better use of my time.”
That perspective seems to fit well with Trinity’s emphasis on community service. The church basement had been transformed into a staging area for Columbia’s Volunteer Action Center that delivers holiday gifts to families in need, a cause to which Nevel had temporarily surrendered both his office and his efforts for the day.
“I’m excited to be here,” Nevel said. “I’m excited about this church’s passion for helping people both here in Columbia and around the world. I’m excited to be part of that.”