Lead Pastor
Melissa Earley

I grew up in Parker, Colorado where I downhill skied, competed on speech team, and was active in our United Methodist Church. My pastors gave me multiple opportunities to preach and lead worship. These opportunities helped me sense a call to ordained ministry. My senior year at Kenyon College, I preached at the inter-denominational worship service. Someone from a tradition that doesn’t ordain women pulled me aside and told me that I should preach. Walking home to my dorm room I felt like the heavens had opened and I could hear trumpets blast. After attending Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I decided to put ordination on hold. I did fundraising for Youth Organizations Umbrella, Inc. (now Youth & Opportunity United). I attended Broadway United Methodist Church. After leading a book study on Theological Worlds, I realized how much I loved the work in the church. I went through the commissioning process in the Rocky Mountain annual conference and immediately transferred to Northern Illinois. I was ordained elder in 2000.

Ministry Settings

  • 1998-2004 – Associate Pastor, United Methodist Church of Geneva
  • 2004-2005 – Volunteer, International Child Care, Dominican Republic (Sabbatical)
  • 2005-2010 – Pastor, Living Faith United Methodist Church, Waukegan 2010-2017– Pastor, Northbrook United Methodist Church, Northbrook

Core values of my ministry:

  • Including children and youth in worship
  • Taking risks Permission giving for ministry
  • Finding new ways to “do church”
  • Missions and service in partnership with the “recipients” of that ministry
  • Counter-Cultural Gospel (Anti-consumerism, grace over earning, being over producing, the value of Sabbath)
  • Ministry is based in relationships, not programs

I love to hike and cross country ski. I write. (You can read my blog Waking Up Earley at www.melissa-earley.com.) I speak Spanish. I’m on the board of Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors. I live with my dog Mandy. I like to try recipes from Rick Bayless’ Mexican cookbook. If I wasn’t a United Methodist pastor I would write novels and live in a mountain town in Colorado or in a house on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Last Published: December 18, 2019 11:19 AM