Scott Kerens’ journey of faith began when he was a 13-year-old, self-described “latchkey kid” in his suburban St. Louis hometown.
“I felt really lost,” he recalled recently. “I just didn’t know who I was or where I was headed. In the midst of that I was invited to a church where they loved me unconditionally. They didn’t care that I didn’t dress well. I came to understand that the reason they were that way is they understood who Jesus was and that Jesus welcomes us all. And I felt that welcome from them.”
That unqualified acceptance and the introduction to the Divine set Kerens, 42, on a life-altering path that eventually led to the ministry and today, Marco Presbyterian Church, where he is associate pastor.
Rev. Kerens assumed the post in late 2018, moving Marco Island from the St. Louis area, along with his wife Elizabeth, a teacher, and their four young children: Kate, 10, Benjamin, 8, Emily, 5 and William, 2.
“We’ve been here for almost five months and love that it’s not 5 degrees outside,” he joked recently during a late-morning chat in the church’s courtyard. “We’re excited about that.”
Rev. Kerens was already serving as an associate pastor before deciding to move his family to Southwest Florida to take an identical post. He said a major factor in the decision to join the Marco Presbyterian staff is what he described as the church’s focus on loving the people who populate the island.
“This church has been intentional about saying, ‘We’re a Marco church and we love Marco Island,’” he explained. “So, whether it’s praying at city council or hosting a prayer breakfast or doing an Easter Sunrise Service or VBS or things like that, they’ve decided that we want to do things to serve the community. This church has adopted the mission of showing hope to people through the love of Jesus Christ. We believe that our only hope is not in our career or in our family, or even in church attendance or politics or even religion, but rather our hope is in Jesus.”
That hope, he said, is rooted in something unchanging and eternal that cannot be taken away.
“Often we change, but He does not,” said Rev. Kerens. “He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That’s an exciting mission and that’s what I want to be part of.”
A sermon he gave recently centered on the universal challenge of remaining aware of Jesus’ role as the source of true hope and joy. Maintaining that awareness can be difficult for everyone, even pastors, said Rev. Kerens.
The sermon was based on the New Testament’s Matthew 6:33, which states, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“The thesis of my sermon was order matters,” he said. “So, if you’re all about your job and your job fails you, then you go into despair. But if you’re all about Jesus and your job fails you, you still have Jesus as your hope. The funny thing about any person, because we’re all the same, is we forget that every day.”
When not engaged in pastoral duties, he likes to break out his tools and fix up the fixer-upper the family purchased on the island. Rev. Kerens also enjoys hanging out with his wife — their 12-year anniversary is this month — and their children, whom he described as being individually unique and collectively awesome.
“More recently,” he added, “I’ve been working out in our garage and when I work out, the kids work out with me. It’s hard to get your own time as a parent of four, but if they can be with you and enjoy it then they get daddy time and it’s kind of funny to watch them pick up the 3 lb. weights and try to do it with me.”
Marco Presbyterian Church is located at 875 W. Elkcam Circle. For more information visit marcochurch.com or call 239-394-8186.