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Spartans of UD - Emmy (Kubatzke) Gimple

By University Relations Staff

Spartans of UD highlights what makes the University of Dubuque special - the people.

Emmy (Kubatzke) Gimple (C'20) is the director of children's, youth, and media ministries at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Dubuque.

How did you become involved in children's, youth, and media ministries?

"I was graduating from high school and unsure of what to study in school, until I was offered an internship at my home church, Faith United Methodist Church in Freeport, Illinois. This internship would be working with children and youth. I took the position and ever since then, I realized the passion I had for working with children and youth and teaching them about the robust, open, and beautiful love of God. As a woman entering the field of theology and ministry, I was actively entering a male-dominated field, but I had so many wonderful women to look up to and learn from both in churches I've attended and worked for and at the University of Dubuque."

What do you feel are the key components to a vibrant children's and youth ministry?

"A few key components to a vibrant ministry, especially with young people, is a relationship-centered focus and consistency.

"I've realized in my time working in ministry that I'm not just teaching kids to memorize bible passages, but I'm teaching them about a loving and inclusive God that worked to create us JUST the way we are. That is a message that kids and youth need to hear. That the one who created them loves them JUST the way they are, no need to change. This love is so inclusive and open that it includes all of their friends and it requires that we be actively working to make our world a better place for all those who live in it. This is why having a relationship-centered focus in ministry is so important; to know what these kids are dealing with and still reminding them that they are loved.

"Consistency is also a huge part of ministry. Providing a safe space for children and youth to spend time, play, learn, and grow requires consistency. Consistent boundaries, consistent training for staff and volunteers, etc. Consistency is important in our relationships with the kids and youth and in how we prepare our church and space for ministry. To ensure our ministry is safe and secure, I need my volunteers and staff to be consistent and present."

What do you enjoy most about your position at St. Luke's United Methodist Church?

"It may sound cheesy, but the thing I enjoy most about my position is the people. From my coworkers at the church to the families and people in the congregation I serve, I love the people. As I've said, ministry is extremely relational and being able to get to know who I am serving and spending time with is so important to me. I enjoy playing video games with my middle school students and going to Starbucks with my high-schoolers. Sitting and listening to stories with my pre-K kiddos is a HUGE part of my job. If they don't have a relationship with those who teach them, how will they see God's love through us? This is also why my childcare staff and youth volunteers spend so much time getting to know who they are working with. We build a relationship of trust and respect with our families. Everything we do points to God and that includes how we treat the kids we work with."

How did the University of Dubuque help prepare you for that position?

"I had some wonderful staff and faculty that I was able to get to know while on campus that taught me some amazing things about theology and about being a person, really. My professors and classes taught me a great deal about theology, social justice, and loving my environment. Most of my professors have been more than just someone to learn from, many have become friends or contacts that I still connect with regularly."

What advice do you have for current students?

"My advice for current students is to get involved! Be a part of projects on campus, meet new people, enjoy your time. And even if you AREN'T a part of the theology program, take a theology course, go hang out in the theology department, see what activities are going on. There is always something to be a part of and it always involves good people and a good time and possibly good food! Theology doesn't just teach us how to memorize scripture; it teaches us how to be a part of a community and that is something everyone should know."