By Maria Ferraro
There are exciting things ahead for Grace United Methodist Church (Grace UMC) as Squire Prince takes on the role of youth director. Working with young people and children has always been a passion of Prince’s. Now, as he put it, “The Lord is letting me combine my two passions: ministry and youth. I couldn’t be happier.”
Prince is not originally from Jacksonville. Growing up in Chicago, Prince’s first knowledge of Jacksonville came from his cousin, who studied at Illinois College (IC) for a time. He says, “She always talked about how she loved her experiences there, so when it came time for me to find a college, of course, I checked out IC.” He immediately fell in love with the school and community.
Prince graduated from IC with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in music and theater. Since coming to Jacksonville, he has taken part in many different choral groups, as well as various theatrical productions in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Music and theater are something he plans to incorporate in his role as youth director. He says, “We have exciting plans that will begin this fall including, but not limited to: a children and youth choir, weekly children and youth group meetings, drama ministries and more.”
For as long as he can remember, Prince has been a part of children and youth ministry. As a child, the church was his favorite place. He says, “I loved being in the pews, listening to the music, being with friends and learning about the grace of God.” He commented, “Even when I was a young, I was trying to lead Bible studies, and at the young age of eight, I was trying to get in the pulpit.” But, it would be a little while before he would get a turn in the pulpit. He added, “Ever since then, the Lord has been leading my ministry from Chicago, to [my] high school, to other churches, and now to Jacksonville.”
Excited about his new role, Prince has set goals, the first being, as he put it, “To lead as many children and youth as I can to God.” Serving as youth director is the tool God has given him to do that. He added, “Through building and developing the student ministries here, I will be able to guide students to God through worship, study and service.” The most important thing to him is “not just to instill values of faith into students, but to help mold faith-based students that let the light of Jesus shine through them wherever they go.”
His experiences in the church from a young age have given him a vision for what he hopes students will experience at Grace UMC. Prince expressed his thanks to his family and friends who, as he said, “have gone with me throughout all of my ups and downs, especially my mother Kina, father Squire, and younger sister Sarai.” He added, “I have a wonderful family support system.”
In closing, Prince said, “In all that we do here at Grace, it is for the glorification of God, and to bring all to a relationship with Him.” In big and small ways, his experiences in church, previous ministry roles, his passion for youth and them having a relationship with God, have each prepared him to take on this role. For more information on ministries at Grace UMC, go to www.jaxgrace.org or call their main office at (217) 245-9521.