New pastor Todd Joyner is inviting community youth to enjoy their renovated youth room and gym

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Todd Joyner is the newly elected head pastor of the Molalla Church of the Nazarene.After six months of having an interim pastor, the Molalla Church of the Nazarene has elected their former worship leader Todd Joyner as the new head pastor.

Joyner and his wife Carla, along with their adult son and teenage daughter, come from Florida and New Mexico, but have made their home in Molalla for nearly six years now.

"The bulk of my life has been in big city," Joyner said. "My wife and I were born and raised in South Florida, and lived the majority of our lives there…but to come to a small, agricultural town, it's a different way of doing ministry. After five years of it, I think we've got a good feel for it. We love Molalla.

"This is home to us now," he added.

Joyner has been in worship ministry for about 20 years, but this will be his first venture as a head pastor. He was ordained by Nazarene Bible College this month.

The change comes with additional changes for the church. For one, they've added several community-oriented connections groups that meet throughout the week at various locations. Also, High School Choir Director Tim Friesen has taken over as the worship leader, and Ryan Barker has been hired as the associate pastor. For now, his primary focus will be on building the youth program—a process they've already begun.

PIONEER PHOTO: SANDY STOREY - Chelle Watt worked to renovate a large downstairs room at the church.

When Joyner became pastor, he was determined to fix a problem he had noticed. The church had no youth.

"We had a lot of people in the church that had teenagers, but they didn't want to come to any of the teen events because we had nothing here for them," Joyner said. "There was no teen room, there was no real teen ministry—anything like that."

So Joyner has been working with church member Chelle Watt and other volunteers to transform a large downstairs room into a welcoming space for youth.

Now complete, the room features a coffee bar with coffee drinks, snacks, Italian sodas and the like for small fees. The room is filled with custom couches, tables and other seating, a homework area, a pool table, Xbox and a prayer wall.

"When I walked into the finished room, I could not believe what I was seeing," Joyner said.

PIONEER PHOTO: SANDY STOREY - Local youth enjoyed the space for the first time on June 6.

The church's downstairs also features a full-sized gymnasium that the youth have access to.

The church is inviting youth from the community to use the space from after school until about 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The church is within walking distance from the high school, and buses are available from the middle school to the church. There will be volunteers available to help kids with their homework, and there will be a Bible teaching time in the evening.

They welcomed youth for the first time on Wednesday, June 6 and will be having a grand opening on Wednesday, June 13.

Kristen Wohlers
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