HERALD FRONT PAGE
A Congregation of the United Church of Christ
402.476.7565 I 2000 “D” St., Lincoln NE 68502 I Issue 2 I February 2017
named Associate Minister of Congregational Care
KJ Langlais has joined the First-Plymouth pastoral team as Associate Minister of Congregational Care. What she will lead is the ‘heartbeat’ of the church—the care of souls, counseling of those in distress, caring for the sick and infirm and making sure the church is a companion for those in need, according to Senior Minister Jim Keck.
She spent most of her 33-year career in senior long-term care, rising to CEO of Evergreen Living Innovations in Olathe, Kansas. Her most recent move took her to Rochester, Pennsylvania where she served in a similar post. She was licensed as a minister.
“My entire career seems to be wrapped around caring for people no matter the place. While my career has been in aging services, it has still been about caring for people; the residents we served along with their families and our employees,” said Langlais.
Throughout her career, KJ was always involved in church ministry in one way or another, in addition to her very full-time work in long-term care administration. Her work at First Christian Church in Lawrence, Kansas in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s included leading adult programs including “Steps of Courage” retreat, a youth retreat, a Bible study series, and sessions on making peace with your past. She also served as a worship leader and directed youth musicals.
“I am humbled and excited to join the team at First-Plymouth. As a teenager, my dream was to go to a Christian College and spend my life working in a church. While aging services became my ministry, the opportunity now to become a part of the team at First-Plymouth fulfills a lifelong dream of serving God and others within a church family,” said Langlais.
Langlais will join the First-Plymouth team as a three-quarter time associate minister, focusing on engaging, encouraging, supporting and developing growth opportunities for members through congregational care ministries including Stephens Ministers, hospital visits, home and aging community visits. “My hope is to ensure that everyone is connected in some way through small groups, programs or visits so each individual knows they are embraced by a caring community,” she said.
“With the retirement of Pastor Barb Smisek, we knew we had a big hole to fill. Although KJ’s position is a three-quarter time position, I’m certain this new position, and the talent she brings to it, will go a long way toward covering many of the needs of our members,” Keck explained.
“KJ has long wanted to focus fully on ministry, putting her caring, compassion and organizational skills to work in a new way. We are fortunate to have her as part of our ministerial team and I know the congregation will be well-served by her great capacity for confidential support of individuals facing trying times. She brings a calming, assured presence that I know will be helpful to many.”
Langlais says reaching out to others with compassion is one of the most important and healing things she, and all of us, can do. “Compassion requires us to exit our naturally selfish life and enter the soul of another human. We must exit judgement and listen to the needs of others. We must draw upon God’s grace to extend love, support and compassion, meeting them where they are in that moment. Regardless of what a person is facing: a death, a celebration, a birth, a tragic event or a broken dream; compassionate care requires us to be present. We have that one moment when God will use us to demonstrate Jesus’ grace and love in the flesh,” she said.
“I have found myself drawn to always wanting to make things right or renovate what isn’t working. When something is not working, and a challenge appears, at the core is usually something broken. Be it a system, a relationship, or our own heart, soul or spirit; I have come to realize God is the ultimate renovator and healer. God takes broken often discarded lives and souls, and renovates them through his grace, his word and his love. It is God who can transform our lives and use us for a greater purpose.
“I believe that God has continually used me to help others in those difficult and challenging circumstances,” said Langlais.
“We are very much looking forward to working with KJ as a member of the First-Plymouth team,” said Keck.