This fall, Orcas Community Church’s new director of youth ministry Jon Hane and his wife Sarah will be hosting a lineup of fun activities for middle and high schoolers.
“Jon brings a depth of character and experience to youth ministry at Orcas Island Community Church,” said senior pastor Brian Moss. “I am excited for what I know he will contribute to our church and island community.”
The Hanes arrived on Orcas this June, just in time to attend the 2018 graduation ceremony, and they’ve spent the summer making connections and unfurling their roots within the community.
“I was impressed by the maturity of the kids and the leadership focus at the high school,” shared Jon, who has a degree in Christian Ministry from Point Loma Nazarene University. “The community here on Orcas is pretty awesome. Coming from Chicago, there’s a large imbalance of who has opportunities and who doesn’t. It’s really cool to be in a place where there are opportunities for everyone.”
As an example of how islanders care for youth, Jon points to the local University of Washington initiative he has joined, now called Orcas Coalition for Youth, whose vision is to mitigate risk factors and increase support structures for youth on Orcas.
Meanwhile, Sarah recently began a new position as a personal banker at Key Bank’s Eastsound branch and is eager to spend time developing relationships with island youth alongside Jon.
“We are partners in ministry, in life and adventure,” he said.
Born just a few months apart, Jon and Sarah say their life goal is to visit all 58 national parks by the time they turn 58; they’ve been to 16 in the past four years and will have to visit three parks per year to make their goal. The duo just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary.
“I have a heart for connecting people of faith to nature,” said Jon. “That’s pretty significant.”
Both natives of San Diego, Jon and Sarah spent the past 10 years in the Chicago area.
“Chicago was a huge time of growth for me,” he said. “I came from upper-middle-class white suburbia, and the south side of Chicago where I worked was an under-resourced, segregated African American community. It helped develop me, but it can also be pretty jading. I’m normally a pretty positive person, but the overarching systematic stuff was a little harder to grapple with.”
One big encouragement for him during that time was seeing students he met as 7th graders at Chicago’s urban youth intervention center, By the Hand Club, graduate high school and head off to university, defying the statistics for youth in that community.
Jon and Sarah are excited to shift gears into island living, especially since Orcas is an easier place to keep livestock than the heart of Chicago. They did try, joining a roommate in his urban permaculture efforts to keep quail and rabbits, but had problems with the city’s greatest predator: rats.
Their latest fowl adventure has been goose-sitting for “Bruce the goose,” owned by pastor Brian Moss and his family for 4H club.
Jon says an important task will be to form connections and bridge gaps between the church and the community, helping students integrate their faith with how they live in the community.
“Christ comes to bring abundant life,” he says. “When we help people with their mental health, with justice issues, when we feed people – all those things are spiritual. …We don’t want to do spiritual things while disregarding all the others.”
Jon said the couple was drawn to the diversity of views and people here on Orcas.
“There are so many different kinds of people from so many different walks of life,” he said. “I have seen many people here who don’t necessarily agree, but they do wholeheartedly love each other.”
Jon has spent time in a wide variety of different church settings and says he enjoys hearing both sides of theological arguments.
“It allows me to help students think critically about faith issues,” he said. “Relationships are more important than non-essential ideologies.”
As for Jon’s own personality, he says the show MASH was “formative,” affecting every aspect of his personality. Jon acted on stage in high school and served as a props master in college, while Sarah majored in theater. Jon said acting has given him perspective and empathy for other people who are very different from himself, and also taught him the power of art and theater to tell a story.
“The story of God is a very compelling story, but often we don’t get the full story. For example,” he laughed, “most of the characters in the Bible are not people we are supposed to emulate.”
One narrative arc in the Bible that’s especially significant to Jon personally is the recurring theme of adoption into the family of God.
“First I was adopted at birth by my family,” he said, “then I was adopted by God. And recently, I was adopted for a third time into my biological family.”
Jon and Sarah made that last connection in San Diego this summer, shortly after moving to the island.
The Hanes look forward to building connections with Orcas youth this fall. Upcoming events include: a Sept. 9 community picnic kickoff at noon for community members of all ages; a 2 p.m. tie-dye t-shirt water fight for just middle-schoolers on Sept. 9; weekly Wednesday night youth meetings starting Sept. 12 at 6-8:30 p.m.; and a noon visioning meeting on Sept. 19 for parents who want to be involved. All island youth are welcome at these free events, regardless of church attendance.
To find out more, contact Jon via Facebook (Jon Hane), Instagram (oicc_students), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.