120 S. State Street, Big Rapids, MI 49307   —   Phone: (231) 796-7124   —   Email: Secretary@unitedchurchbr.org   —   Office is open from 9 am to 2 pm

The United Church of Big Rapids

Pastor JT Hills

About Pastor JT

Hi!  I’m Rev. JT Hills, and I am so pleased to introduce myself to you as we prepare for ministry together.  If you haven’t had a chance to chat with me yet, here’s a little more about me and my family: I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and went to elementary school there.  After moving to just north of San Francisco, I graduated high school in California before returning to Nebraska for college.  Following a brief stint in Colorado, I moved back to California and eventually went to seminary there, and accepted my first call in Tell City, Indiana, where I have been for almost five years.

 I come from a family of pastors, preachers, and church workers in every generation stretching back to the 1750s.  I attended Doane University, a United Church of Christ affiliated school in Crete, Nebraska, where I majored in English and History.  However, my call to ministry was anything but direct.  I wasn’t sure where life would take me from Doane, so after college I spent five and a half years working at Walmart, starting as a grocery stock person and working up to assistant manager before heading back to school.  I attended Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California for my seminary degree.

 I have many passions in the church, which always starts with sharing God’s love with myself and all those I meet, as Jesus calls us to do in the gospels as our primary work of faith.  Chief among my passions is also asking questions.  I think curiosity and a desire to learn more are fundamental parts of our faith.  I think doubt is essential in our understanding of faith because it helps us explore our faith more deeply. I enjoy looking for God’s still speaking voice all around me: in the people I meet, in the movies I watch and the music I listen to, in the peace of nature, in the bustle of the city.  I try to find God in everything I see and do.  I’m also passionate about seeing where God is leading the church in the future, and what new and exciting ways we can learn to share the gospel and God’s love in our ever-changing world.

I love spending time with my family.  I met my wife, Kelse, working at Walmart in Colorado, and we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in the middle of Holy Week.  We have two children: Jay, who is 5, and Quorra, who is 3.  Jay is excited about starting kindergarten and Quorra is looking forward to starting preschool.  The kids both love dinosaurs, trains, big machines, animals, and the Minions.  Kelse hopes to return to school as the kids grow and follow her passion, becoming a veterinary technician and working with horses.

Aside from spending time with family, I love watching great movies and television shows.  Among my all-time favorites are Star Wars, The Simpsons, The West Wing, and Pixar movies.  I’ve been developing a new hobby of photography, but I also love spending time outdoors, especially near the water, playing board, card, and video games, putting puzzles together, taking road trips to new places, and gathering for meals with friends.  I have a hard time turning down Kansas City barbecue, pepperoni pizza, chicken alfredo, bacon, and cheesecake, but I am allergic to corn, so eating is often an adventure.  Nevertheless, I hope to be able to spend time eating with you as we gather around God’s table and learn more about each other while we learn what new things God has is store for all of us.