Question: What do UMass hockey players, CVS store managers, divinity students and Army paratroopers all have in common?
Answer: They come together in the life experiences of Gary Grimes, our new Director of Youth and Family Ministry!
From this rich and varied life, Gary is currently a divinity student at Andover Newton Theological School with a goal of becoming an ordained minister, and for the past 7 years, has led the Pilgrim Fellowship at First Church in Ludlow. Also a head baseball coach in the Ludlow Youth Baseball organization, Gary has an extensive background in retail, most recently as Store Manager for CVS. And in his spare time.....
Gary has developed and led a confirmation class for 10th and 11th graders, has helped their youth plan and conduct community service activities, has organized and led a Good Friday sleep over and vigil at the church, and has worked as a student minister at the church in various capacities. We are delighted to have him join us at First Church in Amherst and look forward to his ministry with us!
The Youth and Family Ministry search committee looked at 15 letters of interest and in this economy, some of them were very interesting. We had 2 applications from lawyers, one psychologist, one police officer, several with public school experience, and one who wrote: “Look no further, I am the answer to your prayers!” Not. We asked 6 people in for preliminary interviews in early June, and asked 2 back for 2nd interviews in mid-June. As a part of the 2nd interview, we asked each candidate to present a 10-15 minute ‘word for all ages’ and brought in real, live First Church kids! We had 10 boys ranging in age from 2-17. We were totally blown away when Gary, who went AFTER the pizza extravaganza (yes, feeding the kids was part of the deal), not only got their attention by having them work together to lift Ann Becker IN her chair, but held their attention and patiently answered ALL their questions! His knowledge of what makes kids tick and his commitment to their Christian education was obvious from the very first interview, and reinforced when we saw him work with the kids. Many thanks to all the search committee members who changed many plans to make it to that evening, to Vicki and Dick who were part of the interview process, and to Rachel Thompson who came in on her 17th birthday to be with us and to ask terrific questions!