Years of exemplary leadership at Perham's Crosspoint Alliance Church have paved the way for Kay Morris to play a global role within the denomination—one that will touch the lives of millions of people.
Morris is one of 12 youth pastor representatives from around the world chosen to take part in a youth ministry vision planning event for the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which has 6 million members.
She will be flown to Sacramento, Calif., March 22-25, to help create a Universal Vision Statement for youth ministries within the CMA. As a member of the team, she will define the core values of the organization's youth program, and work those into formal vision and mission statements. It will be the first time the CMA's youth program will have its own set of guidelines, with a goal of ensuring consistency among youth programs throughout the CMA.
"I'm excited," Morris said. "I'm excited to be a part of the planning process, to help shape the focus of the CMA's youth program."
She's unsure what that focus will be, but she believes it may be geared toward discipleship and reaching out, similar to the goals of the CMA organization as a whole.
"We're excited for her," said Paul Sweere, a Crosspoint Alliance Church Elder who has known Morris for the past 10 years. "She's worked on a regional level with the church, and different youth pastors and youth leaders know Kay. She has a heart and a love for kids. So we're really happy that she's being recognized to go out and do this and represent us as a church and a community."
An admirable career in youth ministry
Morris has been the Head Youth and Children's Coordinator/Pastor at Crosspoint Alliance in Perham for the past 12 years. The Verndale native took over the program in 2004 after moving back to the area with her husband, Jeff.
The church's youth program was fairly small at the time, consisting of a monthly dinner that was typically attended by about 10-20 kids. Now, nearly 200 kids take part in youth activities at the church.
Morris leads weekly Youth Group, Kids Connection, Bible Study and Children's Church get-togethers. She also leads annual youth summer camp excursions and missions trips.
With a background in teaching, she began her studies at the University of Minnesota, where she ran track and joined a running team in the Czech Republic through the school's Athletes in Action program. Her future husband, who was also studying to be a teacher, was on that same track team through his school, Campbell University of North Carolina. After returning to the United States, Kay transferred to Campbell University to be with him and finish up her degree there.
She taught fifth grade in North Carolina before the couple moved back to Minnesota, where Jeff found a job in Perham and they could be closer to Kay's family. They had also started a family of their own by then, and today, they have four kids: Elijah, age 14, Mya, 12, Gracie, 9, and Zeke, 6.
Their kids' involvement in Crosspoint Alliance has been a factor in the youth program's growth, as they're good advocates amongst their friends. The same is true of Kay and Jeff, who are natural advocates in the community through their roles with Perham High School and the successful Yellowjackets cross country program.
Jeff, a math and technology teacher at the school, has been named State or National Head Cross Country Coach of the Year multiple times. Kay, who has served as Assistant Cross Country Coach for 13 years, has been named Assistant Coach of the Year multiple times in the section, and was Minnesota's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013.
Once kids check out Crosspoint Alliance's youth programs, they tend to come back again and again. A lot of that is due to Kay, who Sweere said is well-liked, with a friendly and approachable personality.
"Kids respond to her," Sweere said. "She's very welcoming so kids feel comfortable around her."
Kids like Sara Herrmann and Serena Langen, who have known Morris through the church's youth program for more than a decade.
"She does everything for the youth," said Sara. "She's very committed to things in the church."
"And she always does it with a smile," Serena added. "No matter what the situation is... I wouldn't be the person that I am today without her, and I think that goes for a lot of people."
"I could probably speak for a lot of us, that she's our biggest role model," Sara said.
Morris is quick to share any credit with her "amazing team" at the church. Together, she said, they've created an environment of "no judgment, of pointing the focus at Jesus and just growing together."