When asked about what he loves most about Northwest Indiana, Jason Kegebein has a very simple answer.
“Community,” he says. “The community here is my heartbeat.”
Kegebein maintains a close touch to the community that drives him, serving since 2014 as lead pastor for New Hope Church of God in Valparaiso.
A lifetime region resident and 2006 graduate from Hobart High School, Kegebein was born in Valparaiso. He became an ordained Church of God minister through Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana.
“I received my Certificate of Ordination in October of 2013, and was installed in the position as lead pastor just several months later, in April of 2014.”
Kegebein was no stranger to the church, having been active with New Hope for the last 15 years, starting out serving with children and youths.
“After I became ordained, the opportunity to become pastor came available.” said Kegebein. “I was interested, and the church voted me in unanimously. They seemed to feel that this was the best fit for both of us, and we can see the results of that today.”
Among those results, Kegebein notes, are several events which the work to strengthen the ties between the church and the community it serves.
“We do a lot of community events. One of the things that I’m most passionate about, and enjoy most about my church is that they see the vision of my heartbeat and they support me in all endeavors that we do. For example, we recently held our third annual back to school fair, where we were able to give out a thousand backpacks to local students. We also gave over a hundred free haircuts, to help families prepare for the school year,” said Kegebein.
“Our church is willing to do whatever it takes to bring people to Jesus.”
To prove that, Kegebein says that the church holds several big events each year. In addition to the back to school fair, they also hold an event every October, called “Trunk or Treat.” “Every October, we hold a Trunk or Treat where we provide a safe environment for them to come and have fun. We also have a community Easter Egg Hunt Celebration, which is basically a community-wide egg hunt, usually at one of the parks here in South Haven, and a Father’s Day car show.”
In addition to serving as lead pastor, Kegebein also works as a club director for South Haven Boys and Girls Club. He says his days are filled with meetings, networking with other pastors or perhaps simply counseling someone in need.
When not working, Jason makes his home in the Salt Creek Commons subdivision of Valparaiso, with his wife of nine years, Alexis and their daughter, Serenity, 5. Kegebein says that they like to travel, with trips to 16 states and Puerto Rico behind him.
“Probably one of my most favorite trips was this one time we travelled to Puerto Rico. My grandfather lives there, and we had gone there to visit, and also to serve on a small missionary trip while there. We helped a small church out, helping with some much-needed renovations,” said Kegebein.
“I think that one of the things I liked most about Puerto Rico is just the simplicity of it all. Here, we tend to get caught up with everyday life, trying to keep up with our neighbors and whatever. But there, it’s just a slower pace. There is no wifi, no one’s in a hurry. People take their time, they appreciate life in a different way and they’re very grateful for every day.”
Closer to home, Kegebein says that he feels inspired by his community.
“I’m really inspired by the like-mindedness I see here in Northwest Indiana. People here have a way of coming together, to serve one another that you just don’t really see anywhere else. I’ve travelled to many places and I’ve seen other places where, if you step outside your county, you’re not embraced, you’re not welcomed.”
“It’s not like that here,” he says. “Here, we’re willing to be welcoming, to lend a helping hand to others, no matter where they’re from.”
Kegebein says that among the many local family-friendly events that his family enjoys, perhaps their favorites are the small markets that pop up around the area during the summer and fall months.
“Those are what my family and I enjoy most. Just the simple farmers markets and European markets around the area. They’re not really extravagant, but they still serve the community and help to provide not only valuable resources to the community, but they also provide an opportunity for local merchants to sell their items.”
It really is all about the community, according to Kegebein, a philosophy, which is directly reflected in the mission statement of the church, he serves.
Our mission statement is simple: “Our mission is to become a fully-integrated community church by sharing our faith and serving people in our community.”
If you’d like to learn more about New Hope Church of God, visit them on Facebook.