As a new senior pastor of Community Heights Alliance Church has become acquainted with Newton in the last month, he said he appreciates the “real-life vibe” the community appears to emit.
Jeff Keady has been in pastoral ministry for 30 years. For the last 24 years, he has served in two churches, one near Albany, N.Y. and the Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.
Keady received his bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Clarks Summit University in Pennsylvania and his master’s degree of divinity from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul.
For Keady and his wife Debbie, two things have become increasingly important in recent years — family, kids and grandkids — and Jesus’ one command to love God and others.
After living nearly 14 years in Orange City, the Keady’s made the move to Newton to pursue the position at Community Heights. Keady said the move also allows him to only be 35 minutes from his children and grandchildren who live in Ankeny.
“It’s been wonderful,” Keady said. “Iowa is a great place to live and to raise a family.”
Keady began Sept. 1, with his installation service held that following Sunday.
“We are getting to know the people, getting to know the businesses in town, and we aren’t moving into town with children so we didn’t have that concern,” Keady said.
Keady said one of the things he appreciates about Newton so far is the openness and the realness of its people.
“I like the vibe of Newton, the real life vibe,” Keady said. “People are working hard and raising their families and helping others in need. A community putting itself back together and building a new foundation.”
The first sermon series Keady has established at the church is “The Life of the Church.”
“The one thing I’m emphasizing is the greatest commandment which is to love and love one another,” Keady said. “I’m spending nine weeks talking about love … love your neighbor as yourself.”
Keady said he wanted to lay a foundation through the first series by letting church members know what he values.
“If we love one another, then everything else will take care of itself,” Keady said. “I’ve also been busy getting to know the staff and building relationships of trust. I value openness and authenticity.”
Keady said Community Heights Alliance Church will also continue focusing on youth and children’s ministries.
“People’s understanding of God is shaped when they are children, so we have to teach kids about God now — so we bring kids in now from the community on Wednesday nights, and we have three vans,” Keady said. “They go out and pick up anywhere from 30 to 50 kids, ages 5 to 12.”
Wednesday nights are called “CHAC” which stands for Community Heights Alliance Church, and according to Keady, the building is just as full on Wednesday nights as Sunday mornings.
“So we feed kids on Wednesday nights, we provide a meal and just try to love on those kids,” Keady said. “There are also 200 plus high schooler’s who attend their program.”
Keady said he looks forward to making a difference in the lives of people in Newton.
“I’ve gotten familiar with the ministry Discover Hope … and I appreciate what he’s doing, and I want to be supportive and partner with him and other ministries like that,” Keady said. “I look forward to working with the millennial generation and Christian leaders who want an active faith.”
Keady said he is looking forward to increasing communication within the church and its members. A few ways he hopes to connect members in the future are through a church podcast and a phone app.
“I wanted to increase communication and understanding in the church, and I want the people here to start getting to know each other and deepen relationships in the church” Keady said. “I want to be very open and a lot of information flowing.”
Keady said he would like to encourage community members to attend church because people need people as much as they need to hear the gospel.
“We need to be open to real, hurting people, and when they come to church here they will feel welcome” Keady said. “It all goes back to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Keady said he also believes in working together with other churches in the community.
“There’s only one church in Newton — they might meet in different buildings, but we are all united by the one Jesus,” Keady said. “When we believe that, we act differently, and there is no competition. We want to see each other succeed.”
Keady also serves on the Alliance District’s LO&CC (Licensing, Ordination, & Consecration Committee) and is the co-founder with Jonny Craig of 200churches.com. The 200 churches Podcast is a ministry of encouragement to pastors of small churches.
Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org