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Clayton Keenon takes new job as teaching pastor

On March 20, the Wheaton College community received an email from the President’s Office saying that yet another transition will be occurring in the Chap­lain’s Office. Clayton Keenon, who has served as ministry asso­ciate for discipleship and gradu­ate chapel for five years, will be leaving Wheaton at the end of the semester to begin his work as teaching pastor at Christ Com­munity Church in St. Charles, Ill.
Keenon did not think he would be leaving Wheaton when first contacted by senior pas­tor Jim Nicodem. However, af­ter visiting to speak one Sunday and taking a retreat day to pray about the offer, Keenon felt that he should consider the position as teaching pastor. Keenon said, “If you had asked me what I would like to do if I had a church job, he (Nicodem) spelled out basi­cally exactly what I had always imagined.” Eric Rojas, an Execu­tive Pastor at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, said that Keenon’s “teaching gift (and) de­sire to make God’s Word come alive and help people understand it and apply it to their lives” was a “perfect fit” for the ministry.
During his time at Wheaton, Keenon has played a key role in developing graduate school chapel. Prior to Keenon serving as ministry associate for gradu­ate chapel, the graduate chapel program did not have a consis­tent time to meet or a specific structure to operate under. Now, graduate students take time from their studies to join together and worship together as one united community each Wednesday morning. Keenon is passionate about the graduate students and has sought to embrace the diver­sity of the student body by sched­uling speakers from across the globe and all walks of life to speak at graduate chapel. As an MA student in the history of Chris­tianity program, Allison Brown has been impressed by how said that she has enjoyed the chance to hear the “rich stories and … journeys of faith” of many inter­national students at the school.
Keenon also played a huge role in the continued development of Discipleship Small Groups. DSG small groups resident ad­visor Elizabeth Studebaker said that through Keenon’s work with DSG, she has had the chance to see “the way he cares for students, invests in their lives and reminds them consistently of God’s care for them.” Keenon’s vision for DSG is that each group would be a safe place where “the real­ity of someone’s life — who they really are, the things that they really struggle with, what their real sins are — encounters the truth of what Jesus has done.”
In all his areas of involvement, Keenon has demonstrated a deep passion for sharing the love of God. Chaplain Dave McDowell said, “Not only has he been able to articulate a clear message of God’s love and mercy, but he has also been able to flesh that out in his relationships and responsibilities.” In the graduate school, many students have had the chance to get to know Keenon on a personal level. One student, Nathan Chase, spoke to Keenon’s character and said that he has always trusted that “Keenon feared God more than man” and continually set the “focus as Christ at the center.”
For Keenon, it will be in­credibly hard to leave Wheaton, which is home to the church that he has attended his whole life and the school and relationships that he has poured immeasurable amounts of hard work and time into. His current responsibilities will be divided as the Chaplain’s Office is currently seeking some­one to oversee the DSG ministry and another to serve as part-time chaplain for graduate school.
At the end of any small group, chapel or student meeting, Kee­non often ends with a blessing. This is the blessing that he hopes to leaves every student on cam­pus with, so that they may “rest because of what Jesus has done.”
“Remember this,” Keenon said, “God loves you more than you could ever imagine. God loves you with a love that has no beginning and no ending. It is a love you don’t have to earn and you could never lose. It doesn’t matter if you feel like a suc­cess or a failure. God loves you.
It doesn’t matter if you feel alone or surrounded by friends. God loves you. It doesn’t mat­ter if you are righteous or guilty. God loves you. God loves you enough to send Jesus to live for you and die for you and be raised for you, and even right now Je­sus is before the Father speak­ing words of love on your behalf, and he will return to renew you and all of creation because he loves you. This is the most true thing about you: You are loved by God. Before anything else can be said about you, this must be said: God loves you and that will never change. So don’t forget it.”

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