CCC welcomes Rachel McConihay to Children’s Ministry

Rachel McConihay works with a child at Lions & Lambs Preschool.

Rachel McConihay works with a child at Lions & Lambs Preschool.

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Transition can be part of the natural life of a church community, and Community Covenant is preparing for a transition of its own as it says goodbye to Children’s Ministry Director Stacy Pickens and her family and welcomes Lions & Lambs Preschool Director Rachel McConihay to serve as the Interim Children’s Ministry Director in the months ahead.

Stacy moved to Alaska in June 2002 with her husband, Marshall, and their sons, Liam, 8, and Zack, 3. She came on staff at CCC in September 2014, and said she’ll hand the reins of the Children’s Ministry over to Rachel May 27.

“I have found Community Covenant to be a precious place that has blessed me and my family greatly. It has been a place of great joy and opportunity,” Stacy said, who will be moving to Caldwell, Idaho, June 9 to be closer to family. “We will cherish our lifelong relationships we have fostered here and pray the Lord has just as dynamic of a church family [for us] to serve alongside of in Idaho.”

Stacy said she’s worked closely with Rachel since the preschool director began serving at CCC in July 2015 and has come alongside her to help her transition to serving as the Interim Children’s Ministry Director go as smoothly as possible.

“We will deeply miss the Pickens family but join them in their excitement about the new opportunities that await them in Idaho,” said Lead Pastor Todd Michero. “Stacy served our church well, giving herself fully to our children and families. Her vision has helped prepare the way for the future of our church’s Children’s Ministry.”

Rachel will bring a wealth of experience to the Children’s Ministry, to include long-term coordination of vacation Bible school programs, serving as a Sunday school teacher and nursery worker and directing the children’s and youth ministry for an Episcopal Church in Arizona.

“Rachel combines the experience and giftedness necessary for directing the Children’s Ministry with a passion for the spiritual nurturing and care of children and their families,” Todd said. “You can’t be in her presence without being inspired to support the Children’s Ministry.”

Rachel said she moved to Alaska in 2014 when her husband, Jeff, was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to serve as the Behavioral Health chief. They have five children, Katherine, 21, Ian, 19, Caleb, 17, Keegan, 15, and Alayna, 11.

Although the McConihays attend an Episcopal church in Anchorage, Rachel will be regularly attending CCC and will be a vital presence in the Sunday morning Children’s Ministry in her new role. She said she feels called to serve where family foundations are built for children.

“I believe the best practice is to keep in mind that they are children, but our job is to teach them to be adults. They have the same size soul as we do and only know and understand what they have been taught and seen modeled,” Rachel said. “All children want the same things as adults do: to know they are cared for, needed and listened to. If all of these ideas are based in God’s love and mercy, then what we teach can grow out of that.”

While Lions & Lambs Preschool will end May 13 for the school year, Rachel said she plans to serve the ministry for many years to come and was somewhat surprised to be called to serve as the Interim Children’s Ministry Director.

“God’s plan for me is usually a surprise and not what I was planning. However, when I open myself to go in a direction He has placed before me, His plans always are better than mine,” she said. “Every ministry ‘job’ I have been called into has been a challenge, a blessing and way more of what God could do than I could.”

Serving in a manner that best meets the needs of the ministry, church and volunteers is important to Rachel during this time of transition for CCC.

“I hope I can be a balancing factor as CCC stretches into new places and finds new ministers to serve. I hope to encourage and train new workers to be teammates alongside their children or friends in the teaching and training of others,” she said. “Ministry is not restricted to certain people or age groups. I pray I can be an inspiring voice to enable those who do not see themselves as teachers to start seeing themselves as God’s hands and let Him do the teaching.”

She added that being role models as servants of Christ is key when serving the youngest members of CCC’s congregation.

“I want all children to find and know God through the adults around them — for them to understand that church attendance is about the reverence and privilege of serving and knowing God and not about being entertained,” Rachel said. “Faith is an action that they choose each day, and as faith grows, the balance and strength and peace in their life also grow.”

As much as Rachel wants to positively influence the lives of those the ministry serves, she said she’s grown through her years of working with children as well.

“I think the biggest impact has been a better understanding of the breakdown in spiritual health and growth in today’s society. So many families are overwhelmed by life, and parents have a hard time finding and keeping faith for themselves, much less their children,” she said. “While they may send or take their children to church, there seems to be a real need in modeling an active faith to children and training them in how to stand firm on that faith once they leave Sunday school classrooms.”