Serving since 1994, Pastor Ken Gilmore is the Lead Pastor at Keystone Wesleyan Church. The church is located in Saline, Michigan.
He didn’t start out as Lead Pastor however. First arriving in 1994 as the Youth Pastor, Pastor Ken developed his ministry and eventually was invited to become the Lead Pastor in 2006. “This is my family having lived here longer than any other church or community that I have ever been part of,” says Pastor Ken. He is celebrating 22 years pastoring at this, his first church he ever pastored.
Graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1994 he eventually found his way to a staff position in the church where are his talents of preaching/teaching and leadership have helped to develop a congregation of over 600 people today. Nestled in a small community near the University of Michigan, Pastor Ken has found a passion and a ministry with people in the community. Passionate about reaching people, his congregation has partnered with local community service organization to provide volunteers and an incarnational form of ministry. He stated, “Love Where You Live” is a new motto that has been emerging to emphasize the congregation’s role in partnering with various community service organizations to meet the tangible needs in the area.”
Proximity to the University of Michigan has provided Keystone with a unique opportunity to serve students, athletes and even coaches from the university. In 2007 the IWU Chorale was on hand for a special service when then U of M Football Coach, Lloyd Carr’s grandson was dedicated. Pastor Ken serves his community by volunteering as a member of the Saline Community Addiction Prevention Task Force, as well as speaking and praying at various community gatherings.
In recent days he was inspired to challenge his church through a difficult funeral of Lloyd Carr’s grandson.
Pastor Ken is a gifted speaker.
He shared that his story was a journey of God’s Call and his responding with the Call over time. “God has given me a life purpose having called me into the ministry when I was a teenager,” says Pastor Ken. “It was during a Tony Campolo conference that I was challenged about full-time Christian service,” stated Pastor Ken. “I wasn’t interested in missions but God was working on me.” Dwight Robertson, now with Kingdom Building Ministries was leading music and representing the Indiana Wesleyan University. “He brought materials about the University in which I eventually came for a campus visit but I was not one-hundred percent sure what I wanted to do with my life,” admitted Pastor Ken. It was during his college years at the Spiritual Emphasis week at IWU that he fully dedicated himself to full-time Christian service under the ministry of Rev. Jimmy Johnson, speaker during the special series of services. Pastor Ken comes from a legacy of ministry within his family “It wasn’t just that my father, Grandparents and Great grandfather were pastors, the Lord made His Call on me clear,” added Pastor Ken.
Pastor Ken met his wife, Diane at IWU. She was studying Medical Technology and her final year she did a residency program in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Pastor Ken traveled with Master’s Praise and upon graduation accepted his first ministry assignment with Keystone. “While dating Diane we were separated by several hundred miles which deepened our relationship,” says Pastor Ken. They have been married for over twenty years. In fact, Pastor Ken shared that his wife is the reason for any success he may have in his ministry.
“I am not only extremely grateful to have served in one ministry and community for such an extended period of time but also that my wife has been an integral partner in ministry as well. The faith formed in her at IWU, even though she was not pursuing a ministry degree, equipped her to be a great spiritual support to me and the church and a great witness in her work and social environments outside of the church. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
Pastor Ken’s life verse is from Psalm 25. He summarized the passage in our discussion, “Show me your ways, Oh Lord. Teach me your path.” He shared that “this passage of scripture was in fact the text for the very first sermon I ever preached. Adding, “It spoke to me as I was reading the Psalms during my devotions and has always guided my life.”
Pastors deal with challenges and change in every church. Under Pastor Ken’s ministry he stated that the most difficult time was during the recession of 2007 and 2008. The downturn to the economy forced many to have to seek new employment outside of the state of Michigan. “People that have grown up in this church were suddenly having to move to find new employment,” he shared. The growth of the church was challenging. He admitted that, “We saw ourselves as a sending church as leaders transitioned to other churches having moved to seek new employment.”
Challenging other pastors and ministry leader he wanted to share with me that every minister should realize that his family should come first. He told me that his number one ministry is to his family. Having attended a pastor’s conference he learned that nothing is more important than his family. He summarized this by saying that if “I were to leave the church they will find another pastor but if I am not there for my family they will not find another father and husband. My goal is to fulfill my family commitment first.”
Pastor Ken is this week’s Pastor of the Week. Congratulations Pastor Ken and thank you for your ministry!
Written by Rev. Rick Carder, Director of Alumni & Church Engagement at Indiana Wesleyan University.