Tommy Peterson has joined Grace Community Church as the new youth pastor for the congregation.
Peterson and his family moved to Effingham at the beginning of July to work with the church.
“The church is the reason we’re here all together,” he said. “I’ve been in full time youth ministry for six and a half years, and we were at a pretty good church in Colorado for a while.”
Peterson said after some “unfortunate circumstances,” his family moved to California to be closer to his wife Helen’s family. The couple has three children, Christian, 4, Tobie, 2, and Daniel Mark, 1.
“We went to California as sort of a reprieve just to gather our thoughts and figure out what God wanted us to do with our life and my ministry,” Peterson said. “While we were there, it just so happened that there was a church that needed a youth pastor.”
He said the community they were in was very rural.
“It’s funny because people call this rural, but it doesn’t compare. There wasn’t even a stoplight in the town,” Peterson said. “The church, in my opinion, didn’t need a youth pastor, so we started looking at our options.”
Peterson grew up outside of Boulder, Colo., and attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
He said he found out about Grace Community from a database at Moody that listed the church’s need for a youth pastor.
“This was by far the best church that we’ve run across, and it happened to be the one that was the best fit for us,” he said. “We’re very excited and very happy to be here. It’s weird because it has a very home-like feel for us, even though we’ve only been here a couple weeks.”
Peterson said he has been involved in youth ministry the majority of his life, but it was when he was a teenager himself that he first decided to go into the ministry.
“I was gripped by the message of the gospel, and I was persuaded by the truth that I was hearing and how God had used various people in my life,” he said. “I wanted to emulate that, what other people had done for me.
“When I went to Bible college, I realized it was an even deeper passion than I originally had thought it would be,” he said. “I pursued my calling from there.
“I grew up in a home where we were around teenagers all the time because my parents helped out with the youth ministry, so I’ve kind of been in youth ministry my whole life in one way or another,” Peterson said.
He said his passion is to teach the Bible.
“There’s a lot of other things you can focus on in youth ministry, but for me that’s (the Bible) what can be there for kids when I can’t, and when other people can’t and when the church for whatever reason (can’t),” Peterson said. “The Bible, the word of God, is there for them, and to help them to see it for all that it is and to take advantage of it for all that it’s worth.”