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As a pastor’s son in northern Indiana, Wayne Wilkinson saw the role a minister plays in a church’s life.
Wilkinson is now leading his own congregation as the new worship minister of Woodland Heights Christian Church, following in his dad’s footsteps after trading a career in computers for the ministry.
“Growing up, I was on the outside but my dad was very open about what was happening in the church, so I knew about the underbelly,” Wilkinson said. “I knew about the dark side of church, but I also knew about the… purpose behind it and why we do it.”
“It’s not out of just tradition, there’s… value in community and coming together… and united in a single cause.”
Bringing people together is the first priority for Wilkinson, who previously ministered at a Christian church in central Illinois.
“I would say my long-term goal is fostering a more united worship experience,” he said.
At his father’s church, Wilkinson was part of a musical family that sang at revivals and gatherings. He also plays acoustic guitar.
Wilkinson graduated from St. Louis Christian College, where he studied music and worship. But he said entering the ministry “wasn’t necessarily what I needed to do” at the time and spent the next decade working in information technology.
In Lincoln, Illinois, where Wilkinson and his wife, Stephanie, settled after Wayne finished school, the couple began attending Jefferson Street Christian Church, where they were
attracted by the worship music.
Wilkinson later became the interim worship minister, bringing a range of traditional to contemporary music to the service.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed incorporating all of those into a service because I think all of the styles and generations of music — old and new — have value and bring value to the church,” Wilkinson said, “so I’m glad to come here where hymns are still a big part of the church but the… good contemporary music is of importance as well, so trying to fuse those together where everyone can benefit from these styles is a goal of mine.”
The position at Woodland Heights opened when Duane Cooper became associate minister. The Wilkinsons and their two children, 10-year-old Amelia and 7-year-old Alexander, are in the process of relocating to Montgomery County. He led his first service on Sunday.
“Everyone that we have encountered so far here has been extremely helpful and thoughtful, and not just the, ‘Oh, we’re happy that you’re here,’” Wilkinson said, “but actually invested in that and wanting to ensure that it stays that way, so it’s been very encouraging to get to know the people here and it’s only been a week for me.”