Kai Thurow Accepts A New Call

By Susan Shinn Turner

During the 2018-2019 school year, some 120 middle-schoolers and high-schoolers were active in the St. John’s youth program. The best attended Sunday night welcomed 49 middle-schoolers and 41 high-schoolers — just a random Sunday evening with 90 kids.

Those are amazing figures for the youth program, which has been under the leadership of Kai Thurow, youth and family minister, for the past three years.

Yet when Kai and his wife, Lauren, welcomed daughter Kaden in October, Kai found it challenging to maintain a work-life balance.

“Being the youth director I wanted to be and being the husband and father I wanted to be, I wasn’t able to find that balance,” Kai says. “There was too much going on to keep the balls in the air. I didn’t feel I was able to be 100 present with my work.”

So as of Aug. 4, Kai will leave his position at St. John’s. On Sept. 1, he’ll begin work as youth and family minister at Church of the Good Shepherd in Mount Holly, revitalizing a youth program that hasn’t existed in several years.

“There is not an established youth program,” Kai says. “I’m starting over from scratch, so that was definitely a draw.”

Lauren will be leaving her job with the NC Synod Headquarters and looking for work in the Mount Holly area.

Kai feels confident that the youth program at St. John’s will continue to grow and thrive.

“I love all the stuff that’s happening here at St. John’s,” he says, “but the relationships built with our youth have been a highlight.”

Kai says that his favorite memories here center around the mission trips.  “The summer is the busiest time of year for this position, but also the most rewarding time.”

This summer included leading 20 third- through fifth-graders for Hands and Feet Camp, with 16 high-schoolers helping plan and lead the week; and 26 high-schoolers and six chaperones on a mission trip to Nashville. Both events were in July.

Additionally, Kai had to plan a mission trip to Boone on short notice for 14 middle school students and two chaperones last month when the WOW mission trip to Knoxville was cancelled by the Knoxville leadership. The group stayed at Grace Lutheran in Boone and enjoyed  ministry opportunities throughout the area. “Luckily, I lived there for two and a half years, so I know the contacts there,” Kai notes.

Besides the sheer number of youth involved at St. John’s, Kai has been surprised at the variety of high schools represented (eight). “It creates such a rich diversity of friendships.”

Since Kai will be attending the church-wide assembly Aug. 5-10, Lauren is taking the lead in the housing search. The couple knows everything will work out fine.

Since officially announcing his decision, Kai says that a particular quote from Winnie the Pooh has resonated with him, in which Pooh says to Piglet: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”