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Rev. Christian Coon is Named Director of Congregational Development

Posted: May 1 2024 at 08:55 PM
Author: Victoria Rebeck

Bishop Dan Schwerin has appointed Rev. Christian Coon as Northern Illinois Conference Director of Congregational Development, effective July 1. Rev. Coon will follow Rev. Martin Lee, who retires on July 1.

Coon Christian 2024

"In my time of prayer and discernment with the Northern Illinois Conference Cabinet and leadership, I heard the need to continue carrying forward the work of Rev. Lee in leadership development and strategic church development throughout the annual conference," Bishop Schwerin said. "We are a people in transition as the church takes on new shapes and forms for the future and we need leadership to help us navigate these changing tides."

The United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration and the Northern Illinois Conference Personnel Committee reviewed a large pool of candidates for this position.

"It was with confidence that I found Rev. Coon to be the best among those interviewed, for our conference, at this time," Bishop Schwerin said. "I found Chris to have very strong strategic vision for the development of systems and supports for the whole conference, as well as good knowledge of the context." 

Christian is a native Iowan who has lived in the Chicago area for 32 years. He began his career in non-profit public relations before entering the ordained ministry in 1997. He has degrees from Simpson College, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He has served as pastor of River Forest, Deerfield: Christ, and in 2009 he co-founded Urban Village Church, a multi-site church with three locations in the city and one in the suburbs.

Reflecting on this position, Rev. Coon said,  “I’m very excited to step into this position to resource and support our existing churches while also working with others to dream about other faith communities we might start. I’m grateful for the leadership of Martin Lee and the good work he has done these past 24 years and will do all I can to build on his foundation. We are in a challenging time as a denomination, but I also see this as a time of real growth and opportunity. I look forward to exploring all parts of the conference and listening to our leaders to see how I can best serve them.”

Rev. Jonathan Crail, chair of the Northern Illinois Conference Church Development and Redevelopment (Code Red) Team, says he is excited to work with Rev. Coon as he begins his role as the new director. “He brings crucial new faith community (NFC) development experience and a long-term connection with our annual conference that will serve as a springboard for creative and innovative ministries across Northern Illinois," Rev. Crail said. "We welcome him wholeheartedly!”

Rev. Coon has authored three books (Expanding the Expedition Through Church Partnerships, Evangelizing Christians for the Journey, and Failing Boldly) and is a contributing author to three others. He has also been a coach and consultant to several church planters in the UMC connection. 

Rev. Coon and his wife, Anne, will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on May 7. They live in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Their daughter, Caroline, is a recent graduate of Michigan State University and is looking forward to being a teacher in the Chicago Public School system next fall. Their son, Ethan, is finishing up his freshman year at Butler University. Rev. Coon is an avid runner (he and Caroline are getting ready to run the Berlin Marathon next September), Chicago Sky season ticket holder, and an earnest but mediocre guitar player.

Bishop Schwerin asks Northern Illinois United Methodists to hold in prayer Rev. Coon, his family, and everyone in an appointment transition. 

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