Quitting Corporate, Gaining More

Multiple Authors

Multiple Authors

Staff Members Share Their Stories:

When we were young children and asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, our answers seemed magical – there was potential in our dreams and we believed in the idea of work being deeply fulfilling. Somehow along the way, many of us end up settling – whether we’re scraping by or amassing considerable wealth – and we work for bills and student loans or status and vacations. But sometimes God is calling us to step aside from that track and do things differently.

Pictured here are Kristine Mannino and J. Lucarelli discussing the routes for their upcoming trip to Kenya where they regularly check in on our NoChild sponsorship program which is giving vulnerable and orphaned children a loving home, a competitive education, and so much more. 

They all have different stories...

We interviewed six current staff members at Kensington who have left the corporate world and successful careers to serve God here in various roles. They all have different stories, different skills, and different passions, but one thing they have in common? They all said they would do it again.

Kristine Mannino, our NoChild Sponsorship Administrator, left the fashion and entertainment industry in New York City and followed her heart for the children all the way back to Michigan and Kensington’s Global Department. Now, she’s changing the lives of children in Kenya, India, and Nepal. When asked if she’d do it all again, she said, “One-hundred percent! I get more joy from what I’m doing now; I’m making an impact and I have people making an impact on my life.”

Erin Brissette wants others to realize that God is leading them too, “He calls us into His plan for us…we want to hold onto what is safe or known but it’s not the plan…make space to be available so that you can be obedient…”

Erin Brissette spent over 20 years in business left her job overseeing solutions for Fortune 500 companies. She worked 80 hour weeks when her twins were young, and says that her job was directly tied to her sense of identity. But then she started going on short-term trips with Kensington, and by the fourth one she felt compelled to start a new chapter, “I have to do something that is for the one. Something that can impact a single person’s heart…” she shared with the team in Nairobi.

The very next day, Erin heard about a job opening in Kensington’s Global Department. She was afraid of the financial sacrifice, but applied with the conviction that God was doing something new in her life. She got the job as Short-Term Trips Coordinator, but Covid soon made her role all but obsolete; at first, she was frustrated. Why would she take a leap of obedience only to be in this helpless situation? “God used that time to unwind me from my corporate identity and try to figure out who I actually am. I had time to figure out how to use my skills in this completely different environment.” Erin moved on to oversee Hope Water Project, and is now Campus Director at Birmingham campus.

When asked if she wakes up looking forward to the day ahead, she said, “I do. I love it. At my corporate job, I would get up at 5am in the morning so that I could get six hours of work in before the west coast was up and the calls would start. Now I wake up and think about what I’m grateful for. My job change impacted everything about my life and my family.” 

Susan Welsh, Campus Director at Orion campus, was a successful Regional Manager for a large pharmaceutical company, but always felt unfulfilled, “More. I wanted more. More meaning, more fun and more joy in my work,” she remembers, “The work wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t awesome either.” 

Susan decided she needed to do something new, so she signed up to volunteer on weekends at Kensington. “I probably should have asked more questions!” she laughs. She didn’t realize she had agreed to communicate to a large group of kids from stage, complete with props, skits, singing, and sometimes even dancing! “I had never taught a day in my life! It was terrifying (yes, terrifying!) the first few times, but turned out to be the most meaningful, fun, and joyful work I had ever done! So, I eventually left my “big” job and joined the Kensington movement. I have since had the opportunity to experience many different roles and each one has been fantastic. I found the meaning, fun and joy that I longed for…”

Chris Cook, Director of Care Initiatives, remembers that he prayed a ‘dangerous prayer’: God, whatever you want for my life I want to be a part of it. And do whatever you have to do to make it happen. I don’t recommend you pray that prayer unless you’re strapped in. My 12-year career imploded six weeks later…” Chris sought the wisdom of friends and mentors and prayed about what God had for his future. Soon, it seemed clear that his life trajectory was pointing in the direction of ministry instead – a complete 180 degree shift from his engineering career.

When asked why his current job at Kensington is so fulfilling, Chris says, “I get a front row seat to watch life change! There is nothing more exciting and energizing than that. The team here is a bunch of messed up people trying to follow God, and that creates a camaraderie of common purpose that is unlike any other organization I’ve been a part of.”

What would you say to someone who has that internal wrestling about leaving their job to pursue something they feel called to do?
“Do it. Take that step of faith.” – J. Lucarelli
“Jump! Go! In a heartbeat! He calls us into His plan for us.” – Erin Brissette
“…the pursuit of God’s calling is worth whatever adjustments that need to be made.” – Chris Cook

J. Lucarelli, Global Partners Director, shares his story: “I was CFO for a real estate development and construction company for ten years but there was something missing…I got an unsettled feeling that there was more.” J. did a courageous – or reckless, to some – thing in quitting his job before he knew what was next. “I couldn’t think because of all the white noise, so I quit without a plan and decided to just seek God about what was next.” J. felt called to missions, and admitted one of the hardest parts was going from being financially independent to raising support. “It scared the crap out of me!”

Someone asked, “Why are you walking away from a six-figure salary to beg people for money? But I learned to rely on God for everything.”

J. never thought he would work at a church, but his original job of Country Director seemed perfect for him. “It utilized my skills – MBA and intercultural studies, and experience on the mission field.” He’s since moved on to be the Global Partners Director and isn’t shy about announcing that he has the best job at Kensington! “I can see how God has directed my path – I am so much more fulfilled in this job. It feels kingdom-minded and will impact generations. It’s beautiful to be around a community of people…with a common vision and purpose.” 

When J. thinks about the path to where he is now, he knows God led and provided along the way. “I never lacked anything. I didn’t have everything I wanted but I had everything I needed.”

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ‘” — Jeremiah 29:11.

Mervat Denno, Campus Director at Troy campus, shares this wisdom, “After years of trying to be wise and doing what is right, I realized that following God often looks foolish and always involves depending on God: Noah building the ark? Moses going to Pharaoh to free the Israelites? Peter walking on water?”

Mervat, remembers her life as chapters – each chapter a decade. In her 20s, she was battling to realize her dreams of becoming an architect “in a male-dominated field, and coming out of a male-dominated middle-eastern culture”; her 30s were filled with caring for her three young daughters and ill mother-in-law, and investing hours in volunteering and leading Bible Studies. Then, at 40, Mervat says, “I kept being prompted to apply for an internship at Kensington even though I had no interest in doing an internship with people half my age nor did I have any aspirations to work in ministry.”

But the year of interning was transformative,”God met me every day of my internship and rebuilt my identity in Him…He reframed my view of my past and future, giving me an opportunity to dream and open my mind to possibilities. His challenge to me was to ‘say yes when I call.'”

Mervat moved from her internship to work in Guest Services and then into her current role of Campus Director. She wants to encourage others to respond with obedience. “I was challenged that if I claim to be a follower of Jesus, I should follow and trust that He knows better…. and stop telling God what I can and can’t do!”

Are you interested in working for something you believe in? Kensington has full-time and part-time openings at kensingtonchurch.org/jobs.

Share this post

You Might Like...
short term trips
Jillian Bartolomucci

The day Jesus met me at the well

This is my story of the day Jesus met me at the well on a short-term trip to Kenya. Upon arriving in Kodich, Kenya, we were greeted by native Becky, who was our leader and

move out
Multiple Authors

Jesus In The Classroom

It’s been a hot topic since the separation of church and state, established by the U.S. constitution. How do we show Christ to students, teachers and administration when the law prevents us from doing so?

Never miss another blog post.
Subscribe to be notified when new posts are published.

pagination_prv_arrow
EnglishPortuguese

Birmingham Campus

We are offering a time for our congregation to gather after the 10am service for prayer in the Groves Auditorium, 20500 W 13 Mile Rd, Beverly Hills, MI 48025.

On Sunday evening, Dec 5, parents of high school and middle school students are invited to the second half of our Edge gathering at Genesis Church, 309 N Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067, at 6:15pm. We will have a breakout to equip parents in caring for themselves and processing pain with their children in times of tragedy.

Parents & Student Resources

Parents – self care is critical. It’s important to do your own processing with another adult so that you can be more present as your child processes. Here are tools that you can use to get you started.

Podcast

Helpful Blogs

Other Materials

Counselors Are Needed After Tragedy

“The aftermath of the Oxford shooting tragedy will undoubtedly result in traumatic symptoms and experiences across our communities for quite some time. Healing the brain through evidence-based therapies is absolutely possible with clinical guidance. There is a valuable village of Trauma Therapists with collective resources standing by for Oxford, for both direct and secondary survivors to engage in therapy. Until then, we honorably hold a sacred space, as students, families, staff and school partners continue to mourn.” -Laura Azoni, LMSW, Founder of Sanctuary Services

Orion Campus

We believe that unity at this time is more important than ever. Several churches in the area are partnering together to offer space for students to begin the process of healing.

We will have several grief and trauma specialists on site this Sunday evening at our Orion Campus (4640 S Lapeer Rd Lake Orion, MI 48359) from 5-6:30pm and will have a night of prayer, worship and an opportunity for students to process with each other.

Tate Myre Funeral:
Monday, 12.6 Visitation 1 to 8pm
Tuesday, 12.7 Visitation 10-12pm and funeral at Noon

Clinton Township Campus

We will be offering a time for our congregation to gather after each service for a time of corporate prayer in the Greatroom. Prayer will be offered at 10:15 am and 12:15 pm. (25000 Hall Rd, Charter Twp of Clinton, MI 48036)

This Sunday at 3:30 pm as a community we want to gather, pray and mourn together. We are all looking for answers and wondering why tragedy happens but we can find hope and peace in Jesus. 

Troy Campus

Join us Sunday night, December 5th for a Community Prayer Vigil at Kensington Church at 6:00 pm. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to come together for a time of hope and prayer. 

Following the Vigil, at 7:00 pm, there will be breakouts for students and for parents to process and be equipped in caring for themselves and those around in times of tragedy.

Marriage Classes

What grows marriages? Focusing on the two of you and being in community!
The Marriage Course includes seven sessions, designed to help couples invest in their relationship and build a strong marriage. Some couples do the course to intentionally invest in their relationship, others are looking to address more specific challenges. Either way, the course offers essential tools and practical ideas to help you build a relationship that lasts a lifetime. The Marriage Course is based on Christian principles but designed for all couples with or without a church background.

Please email marriage@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

Financial Peace University (FPU)

Financial Peace University (FPU) is a catalyst to help people live in financial freedom and enable them to have a posture of openhandedness. We have witnessed numerous Kensington families experience life change as a result of applying Biblical truths to their personal finances. The real blessing is seeing people create lives of margin that allow them to hear and respond to the Lord’s calling on their lives.

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

Bible Basics

Whether you are brand new to the Bible or have been reading it for decades, Bible Basics is a course that will help you understand the overall flow of the Bible. Over the course of several weeks, learn how the Bible came from the original writers to the English versions we have today. We’ll look at the big-picture story of the Bible and how all the individual books add to the whole. We’ll even learn a little about the history of the Jewish nation. But most of all, we’ll grow in our awe of the amazing author of this amazing book!

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

All Campus

Orion

Clinton Township

Alpha

What is my purpose? What value does the Bible have in my life? How do I pray? How can I grow in confidence to share my faith? These are the big questions that are at the heart of what it means to have a relationship with God. Alpha is a space to explore life’s big questions, to say what you think and to hear other people’s points of view. Over ten-weeks you will explore and discover while listening to weekly topics, participating in table discussion, and developing community. Alpha courses meeting in-person gather around a meal.

You don’t have to come for the whole series—just check it out for the first session and see what you think. No pressure.

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

All Campus

Orion

Troy

Clinton Township

You will then be directed to PushPay for payment.
For additional questions, please contact giving@kensingtonchurch.org or call 248.786.0637

GROUP LEADER DEVELOPMENT

Together Again

updated June 23, 2021

It’s been life-giving to be in-person for our weekend services since last July when we reopened. If you haven’t yet, we invite you to join us in person sometime soon.

Reservations and ticketing have been discontinued at all our campuses.

Masks are optional at all services, events, and ministry gatherings for kids, students, and adults. We know that everyone needs to make the right health decisions for themselves and their family, so if you feel comfortable removing your mask, you may. And if you’d like to continue wearing a mask or face covering, you may do that as well. This is a personal choice that only you can decide what is best for yourself when attending in person at Kensington.

If you are sick, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or have possibly been exposed to COVID-19, please plan to stay home and participate in our services via our many online streaming options.

At the start of the pandemic, Kensington’s Executive Team commissioned a group of staff members as a COVID Task Force to establish protocols and procedures for the safety of our church community. Thanks for sticking with us throughout all the changes and adjustments over the past 15 months.

We’re grateful to be together again!