June 19, 2018
Last Sunday the Congregational Vote was a resounding ‘Yes!’ to bring Kevin Bechtold to Plymouth UCC staff as part time Middle School Youth Minister. Kevin’s covenant with Plymouth began in the crib room, continued through 8th grade confirmation and to his own experiences as a YF participant. He recalls first hearing the call to ministry as a teenager. “I was sitting in the Sanctuary listening and watching Rev. Tony Robinson. It was intriguing to me, the idea of talking to people about faith and God.” But I didn’t tell anyone.”
Following his senior YF trip to Heifer Ranch, along with childhood friends Anna Colwell and Katie Stultz, trip chaperone Don Mayer pulled Kevin aside and suggested to Kevin that he may have a gift. “He was the first person who put a voice to the feelings I had been experiencing, and through the years, Don and Cory Maclay became my mentors through this journey.”
Kevin always imagined going to college to get a business degree. Becoming a minister was not part of the ‘plan.’ “I also thought about pursuing the culinary field, but my parents encouraged college. I enrolled in the University of Oregon as a business major.” Then he realized the university offered a Religious Studies degree. With great trepidation he called his parents to tell them he had decided to change majors. “My dad was a very successful engineer, so for him to give me support meant everything.” Today, Kevin’s parents continue to offer their support and encouragement for Kevin’s chosen path.
After earning his Religious Studies degree in 2009, Kevin returned to Seattle and received his Master of Divinity degree at Seattle University (2013), another sound recommendation by mentor Don Mayer. “He put me on the path,” adds Kevin. “I really appreciate the School of Theology and Ministry’s progressive theology and the ecumenical nature of the program.”
Kevin’s recent participation in Plymouth includes Congregational Council member, search team committee for Plymouth’s former pastor Rev. Brigitta Remole (a faith-deepening experience, he says) and pastoral relations committee for both Rev. Remole and Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown. This past year, Kevin joined his old YF friends Katie and Anna to help lead the YF program. “It was my wife Alicia’s idea. I am truly amazed by our youth’s thoughtfulness and willingness to dig into the Bible. It’s been a wonderful year.”
Coordinating the MYF (middle school) offers Kevin a new and exciting challenge. “I’m looking forward to finding ways to translate these Big Ideas into something middle-schoolers can relate to.” Kevin will lead confirmation and take the Our Whole Lives (OWL) training this fall. “I feel as a church, it is incumbent on us to help young people navigate sexuality at this time in their lives; OWL is a great program.”
Director of Faith Formation Jennifer Castle says, “Kevin will be a great addition to our Faith Formation Team. He is a great resource because of his theological knowledge and pastoral skills. I know that we, the kids and congregation as a whole will greatly benefit from Kevin’s contributions.”
Kevin adds, “At the end of next year, I’ll have met my goals if our middle schoolers get to know each other better, feel that Plymouth is a safe place for them and they have had ample opportunities to learn and explore their faith. I plan to hit the ground running in early August!”
Kevin’s wife Alicia works as a Radiation Therapist. They have one child, Luke, who was baptized at Plymouth in 2017.