GET TO KNOW US
You matter to God. You matter to us.
Welcome! Our goal is to help people grow in their faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. We work hard to deliver meaningful worship experiences and provide different ways for people to explore faith and draw closer to God.
Learn more about us here. You may come in as a stranger, but you’ll leave as a family.
Certified Lay Minister
Hand Bell Choir Director
Mary Ellen Strahm
Family Ministries Director
It is hard to put into words the excitement I have to be the next pastor at Neal Ave! Originally from Pickerington, I grew up Methodist at Peace UMC and continued my involvement with the Methodist church throughout my college years and beyond in various missions both here and abroad with Church of the Messiah in Westerville. Since graduating college my professional career has been in insurance. I earned a few professional designations and my MBA, but throughout it nothing brought me the joy I experienced from being in church and serving in missions. Once COVID happened I took a step back and decided to take my faith more seriously and found myself deeply passionate for learning about the Gospel and wanting to share it which led me to begin this journey into ministry.
My wife, Erin, and I met at Otterbein University in 2014, married in 2018, and now have two boys: Bennett (almost 3 years old) and Lucas (3 months old). I studied economics and got my MBA at the University of Cincinnati while Erin is a physician assistant in neurosurgery at Grant hospital. But, in this move to Newark she is taking a position in urgent care in Zanesville. Erin and I are so appreciative of the warm welcome we received from the people we met at Neal Ave when we were introduced. They immediately made us feel like part of a family.
I am going to begin seminary school in August to begin the path to become ordained. I am new to the whole world of ministry and am looking forward to growing and learning with everyone in the church and in school. I have picked up a few ideas from my time at Church of the Messiah, but I come to you with an open mind on how to best worship God, serve our church, and serve the community. What I do bring with me is energy and excitement about faith and scripture, a commitment to family, and a focus on missions. It is an honor to be able to lead this congregation in worship and I truly believe there is tremendous potential for our future.
At roughly four years old, Kenneth began his musical journey on a “Magnus Chord Organ.” Shortly after that, he developed a passion for singing. At 11 years old, he decided to learn the trumpet after an instrument demonstration at school. It only had three buttons, so how hard could it be? One year later, he began learning the cello. After singing in choirs at school, Kenneth asked if he could sing in the adult choir at church. After being denied, he started a youth choir and continued directing it until he left for college.
For more than two decades, Kenneth gained valuable performance and teaching experience as a music director and an individual contributor to numerous organizations. He is currently the Director for the Vintage Voices, a Granville-based chorus for adults aged 50 and over. Kenneth is also the Music Director at Neal Avenue United Methodist Church in Newark, Ohio.
In addition to music, Kenneth is a technology evangelist. His love for tech began with the release of the Commodore 64. That passion compelled him to serve on the board of numerous tech-related non-profits for over 15 years. Kenneth also chose a career in technology. He is a small business owner of a technology-based company and works as a manager in the Information Systems and Technology department at Denison University.
Mary Ellen Strahm
Mary Ellen Strahm, as a member of Neal Avenue UMC, is the organist. She has been a church organist since she was a freshman in high school. The organ, which Mary Ellen plays, is named Katala Lou. Katala stands for Dr. Katala Williams, organ professor at The University of Arkansas and The College of the Ozarks. Lou stands for Mrs. Lou Welborn, organist at Lamar Methodist Church, Lamar, Arkansas.
I am a full time Elementary School Principal and previously worked for Columbus City Schools as an elementary teacher. I am the proud parent of four boys, Kody, Collin, Jaxson, and Emmett. When we are not busy with school, and sports we love to spend time visiting the Metroparks in Columbus, and traveling. I grew up attending Neal Ave UMC, and am excited to help bring change and growth to our youth and family ministries. I am excited to partner with you on your family’s faith journey.
I am a member of Neal Avenue UMC and have been blessed to serve God and this church as the Office Manager going on 5 years this August. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio Christian University in Leadership & Ministry, so I am grateful for the opportunity to use what I have learned.
My husband, James, and I have been married for 30 years and were actually married at Neal Avenue UMC by his father who was the pastor at the time. We have 3 grown children; Megan, 27; Matthew, 24; and Emily, 23. Emily was married last August and she and her husband live in Boston where she has been attending the Boston Conservatory. She graduates in May and will pursue employement in Boston.
I have served in various ministries within the church, but my favorite way to serve is through outreach or missions. I love that I get to come to work each day and serve God and this church.