In the fall, we had two residential volunteers join the Maintenance department, both of whom are former interns. Holly McClain came on as a part-time work program assistant upon completion of her internship, while Joseph Snyder’s (‘18) duties primarily consist of landscaping.
In the Food Service department, we welcomed Kim Gilliland, long-time Grass Valley resident and local AWANA Club Director, as assistant to Food Service Manager Chris Unitt. Olivia Crissman finishes up her one-year internship this month and will transition into the Food Service department as a residential volunteer early next year.
In August and September, Salena Berger and Austin Sather stepped into staff positions upon finishing their two-year and one-year internships, respectively. Salena came on as a full-time receptionist, a position formerly shared by two people. Austin joined Dave LaRash in the Maintenance Department as the Maintenance Coordinator.
With the waning of one passion came the resurfacing of another – discipleship. This passion had developed in Jensen during his high school years when spiritual mentorship had played a key role in his life after his parents’ divorce. Jensen naturally transitioned into the role of Resident Director at PHC for three years and two more years at William Jessup University after he returned to the west coast. Upon leaving WJU, Jensen landed what he refers to as his “dream job” as a young adults’ pastor at his home church in Morgan Hill. At the same time, Jensen was completing his master’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Western Seminary. Jensen felt that he had found his life’s calling and was preparing for the long haul when, after three years, he was encouraged to look for work elsewhere due to differing church staffing needs. Around that time, Jensen received the invitation to join the staff team at CEM.
Though Jensen would have never thought to seek out this position, when he glanced at the job description, he realized that through all of his experiences, God had been preparing him for this role all along.
In 1971, the vision of Christian Encounter Ministries burst forth from the Ranch near Grass Valley. Paul and Anita Cecil established the first residence here while Tom and Barbara Salter were in seminary in Lincoln, IL. The Salters volunteered with the college group at Springfield’s Westside Christian Church and shared with Tom Kern that vision of a ministry set apart for reaching the very, very lost, for widening the reach of the local church, and for training workers for Christ’s great harvest in the 1970’s. More than a dozen young men and women from that church would heed the call and be sent to serve at CEM.
During that decade, Tom Kern completed a Social Welfare degree at the University of Illinois, anticipating a call to ministry. The first call was to youth ministry while he pursued additional study at Lincoln Christian Seminary. He then embarked on further extreme training for CEM when he traveled to Liberia, West Africa, to teach history and Bible at Liberia Christian College. Following service in Liberia, Tom taught in a continuation school in Illinois. In 1977, he considered a career social work position with the State of Illinois. The offer was delayed. Tom was not. An internship opportunity at CEM became available, so in January of 1978 he headed west to Grass Valley to serve.
As an intern, Tom was privileged to work with Bob Van Schyndel, Bill Williamson, and Bob Slayden in developing the facilities and animal care programs of CEM. These responsibilities became centerpieces of Tom’s service at the Ranch. His attitudes toward work, his servant’s heart, and his ability to impart these qualities to the younger Christian students and interns distinguished him throughout these four decades.