From Rev. Waltrina Middleton: 
Colleague & Friend

Rachel is a wonderfully powerful force in the universe. She is inspired by doing good and inspiring good in others. Her ministry is centered in love and justice and it is evident to me that she is uncompromising in this hope for a beloved community.

With this said, she displays these qualities and passionate traits with humility, sensitivity, respect and care for others. She widens the welcome with her great big heart, thus creating a safe, open and affirming space for others to sit at the table.

When I share in discourse with Rachel--even on topics where we disagree, I am confident she is not only listening, but she hears me. She is a minister. She is a pastor. She is a servant after God's own heart. I have observed her as a student, a mentor to youth and young adults, a colleague and as someone I have come to call my friend. I have seen her as an advocate and I have heard her as a voice from the margins standing in the gap with the oppressed.

Further, Rachel is remarkably creative and I believe her dedication to the fine arts will be a great tool in her ongoing ministry in the world. She presented a workshop for the UCC's National Youth Event 2012 at Purdue University and all of her sessions were filled to capacity. People were standing on the walls and sitting on floors. And when youth didn't want to leave, she and her co-presenter stayed behind and made time to reach out, teach, listen and learn from and with these young people who wanted to hear more. It was amazing, but not surprising at all.

This is a familiar scene with Rachel. She is magnetic and people love her.

Lastly, Rachel understands that ministry is global just as much as it is local. I have witnessed her sharing in dialogue with youth about music, the arts, violence in our communities and abroad and other topics like dating, family and friendship. She is deep and discerning as she is approachable and relatable.

Rachel is an integral woman of God and there is no doubt in my mind that she is called to serve with her gifts rooted in love, creative arts, social justice and peace. I am honored to endorse her without reservation.

From Abby Paras: 
Young Adult Youth Group Member & Intern

I am going to be a Senior in high school and have been attending youth group that Rachel has led since I was in 7th grade. This summer I also had the opportunity to work with Rachel as a summer intern at our congregation. Getting to know Rachel has been a pleasure. Rachel is extremely charismatic, friendly, hospitable and welcoming. In youth group, she welcomes everyone with open arms and is always excited and comes with new ideas to share with the group. In addition to these great new ideas, Rachel is open to criticism and attempts to accommodate folks particular needs. Rachel also has great abilities of administration, from being able to coordinate events for the youth like bonfires, trips to places like six flags, as well as weekly large group meetings and mission trips in the summer. Rachel has a very comforting and understanding demeanor; she is approachable and extremely accepting. From working at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn with Rachel this summer, I have been able to further observe first-hand her amazing commitment to the church. Rachel is always the first to volunteer or suggest something new, from taking over the responsibility of planning our mission trip to attending OWL training and taking a group of kids to the National Youth Event, Rachel does it all. Another great characteristic of Rachel is that she is willing to share her faith with others, and is unwavering in her own faith. Rachel seeks out members of the congregation that may need help in any way, even if it is just someone to talk to.

From Russ Graunke:
Church Member & Leader

I have known and worked with Rachel for several years in my capacity as a church member and lay leader (Moderator). One of the personal qualities Rachel has been blessed with, is a certain natural likability. She can be an enthusiastic leader when it is called for, a calm presence when needed, a friend, an adult to youth, a fellow seeker... and all the while people like her and want her to succeed. And work to help her succeed. This can be a powerful thin in ministry.

Rachel is strong and yet allows herself to be vulnerable in front of others (strong emotional maturity). I imagine her walking with others in Christ and never needing to be the bossy one with the right answers. Yet, I imagine and have seen, her high intellect and wisdom in interpretation of the Word that makes her someone with whom others want to be in conversation and relationship as answers are sought.

Our Church is a place of rapid change and I have served with Rachel and watched her embrace and lead change while being sensitive to those for whom change is difficult. I've seen her champion the ideas of others (sometimes ideas adopted in committee instead of ideas she supported more) with a passion and enthusiasm. Rachel understands that there is often more than one right answer. The underlying principles and objectives can be met many ways. I think this will continue to serve her well in churches throughout her ministry. I think Rachel would be an excellent part of a Church's ministry and may indeed be ready for her own church. She has experienced both small and large churches, and I think either would be blessed to call her part of their team. I am confident that Rachel will be excellent where she is called to serve. Beyond excellent, she has the potential to be amazing.

From Anne & Bob Stout:
Church Members

Rachel Bahr has served as a staff member in youth ministry and as a Seminary Intern at First Congregational UCC in Glen Ellyn where my husband and I have come to appreciate her welcoming and accepting spirit as well as her multiple skill sets.

Rachel came on staff as the Director of Youth Ministry a couple of years ago and navigated a challenging transition between herself and the previous person in that same position who remained on staff but in a different capacity. Her thoughtful approach to that time of transition was handled with grace and caring for everyone involved, indicating strength of character and depth of faith that is not often experienced in sensitive personnel matters of this nature.

My husband and I have observed Rachel in worship leadership, preaching, music, and drama. Her “presence” in those settings is relaxed and comfortable indicating careful preparation as well as performance skills in music and public speaking. She exhibits the capacity for high energy in her position of Director of Youth Ministry and still manages to embrace appropriate boundaries between her family and her ministry. It is with confidence and prayer that I commend Rachel Bahr for continued service in Christian Ministry.

From Naomi Hirsh: 
Church Member & Youth Group Leader

I have had the opportunity to know Rachel since she came to our church and in the last two years, I have worked with her on various events and projects for our senior high youth group. I have seen Rachel navigate some tricky situations and have always been struck by her ability to assess a situation, think about what is going on, the dynamics and backgrounds of those involve and then with grace and integrity, move forward. She is very open and giving and willing to work with everyone, no matter of any personal differences that may be present. I have seen the patience and her belief in herself that she has displayed that has won over everyone who may
have had any reservations about her initially.

Rachel is one of the most spiritual person I know. I am not exactly sure how to describe this, but it is strongly felt by me whenever I am with her. She always sees the good in people and every situation. She is kind, loving and nurturing and I think she has qualities that many people do not have or maybe they don't know how to use them as well as she does. I think she is an outstanding person to have led our youth because of many of these personal attributes. Some of these qualities are very difficult to find in people and I think everyone benefits from them. She has helped my son grow spiritually and has helped him sustain his interest and faith in the church. If you need any additional information, I would be more than happy to provide anything you need. I think Rachel is an exceptional person and feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know her and work along side her.

From Rev. Seth Ethan Cary:
Supervisor at First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn

As Executive Associate Minister of the First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, I have been Rachel’s immediate Supervisor for the past four years. When we first hired Rachel, she had just graduated from seminary. Even then she was unquestionably gifted and passionate, harboring a strong faith and confidence in her vision for a better world. But naturally, she was still relatively inexperienced. Since that time I have watched her mature into a woman of remarkable talents and indomitable spirit. Time and again she has demonstrated grace under pressure, and her experiences at our church have taught her much.

As the Director of Youth Ministry, Rachel has made impressive strides in our program. In only four years, she has doubled our weekly youth fellowship attendance, completely revamped our confirmation program from the ground up, and brought a much needed spiritual depth, creativity, and organizational order to our programs for young people, who are talking about God in exciting ways they never have before. Rachel is truly caring and genuinely compassionate, taking the time to visit youth in their homes and attend musical and theatrical performances at their schools; she really cares about our kids, and it shows. They see it, and their parents see it too. And even though the youth of the church are her “congregation,” Rachel works easily with adults and navigates the complex array of personalities in the church with deft skill and diplomacy.

Knowing the nature of Rachel’s path towards ordained ministry, we have also given her opportunities lead worship and to preach, an art that she excels at. Rachel is nothing if not genuine, and it shows in the pulpit. She brings her whole self to the task, which amplifies her delivery of thoughtfully crafted and well written sermons.

I am proud to have served with her, to call her a colleague and a friend, and I commend her without reservation.

From Rick Matoon:
Church Leader

I enthusiastically endorse Rachel Bahr for any ministry position. I have come to know Rachel over the years in her role as Director of Youth Programs at First Congregational Church in Glen Ellyn. When Rachel first arrived we had a youth program that largely had been unchanged for some time. The program appeared to meet the needs of the Congregation but it was hardly a centerpiece of the churches program offerings. Into this environment came Rachel with a vision for a program that would exponential increase both the breadth and depth of the churches work in youth ministries. The first place I noticed this was in my role as church treasurer. The youth budget had been predictably flat until Rachel arrived. All of a sudden she was requesting new materials and curriculum expansions that we had never seen. The predictable first response (particularly given that we were facing a tight budget) was skeptical but once Rachel was able to present her case (with customary passion and conviction) it became clear that our existing programs were short-changing the church’s youth. You see, Rachel was offering more than a program...she was offering a transformation where children and youth at all levels could begin to explore their faith journey in a safe environment. The dialog that emerges from our youth classes is rich and varied. The students aren’t judged but rather guided as they explore the role of faith in their lives.

But Rachel is more than an exceptional youth director. She is involved in all facets of the churches life. Recently Rachel has provided sermon’s that demonstrate her eloquence from the pulpit. Her sermon’s show her willingness to share herself with the congregation by exposing her own challenges in her faith journey and help us all to realize that struggles can actually make us stronger and potentially better teachers of others. Sharing one’s personal history takes courage but it also humanizes the message and helps make real the idea “that no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here." In sum, Rachel is a force to be reckoned with. From her brilliant smile, to her passion for serving others to her keen mind she is a blessing to any church lucky enough to have her services.

From Caroline Andres:
Christian Education Coordinator & Friend

Rachel oozes kindness, compassion, energy, and care. Few people I've ever met are as consistently patient, gentle, dynamic, and approachable. Her commitment to ministry especially in areas of justice and pastoral care, make her the kind of minister I think every congregation needs. Rachel's the kind of person I wish all pastors were.

I've worked with Rachel on several ecumenical ministry projects over the past few years, and I know that she has gone the extra mile more than once. She's a person of vision, leadership, inclusivity, and welcome. I also know that Rachel creates safe environments for folks to learn, question, and grow in faith. Wherever Rachel serves next is in for an extraordinary, powerful, and marvelous experience.

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