On Sunday, January 8, the FPCW congregation voted to call our new Associate Pastor, Kara Smith-Laubenstein.

Reverend Kara Smith-Laubenstein graduated from Indiana University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts double major in Philosophy and Religious Studies and then obtained a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2008. She received the Jagow Award for Excellence in Preaching in 2006 and she is a Certified Stephen Minister. Prior to her ordination, Kara taught elementary school in Baltimore for two years, while working toward a master’s in teaching and early childhood education at Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, she has three years of experience as a Sunday School curriculum writer and editor.

Kara began working as an associate pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake Mills, Wisconsin in 2014, and she was ordained in April of 2015. For the past seven years she has been Associate Pastor for Youth Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church of Libertyville. During that time, Kara has served as an executive member of the Chicago Presbytery’s Youth Ministries team and has served as a Group Leader for Montreat Conference Center’s summer youth retreats. She is married to Rev. Matthew Smith-Laubenstein, Senior Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Libertyville and they have two daughters, Amelia (13) and Charlotte (9). Kara and her family have just completed a 4+ month trek on the Appalachian Trail.

Kara’s primary responsibilities will be children and youth ministries and congregational care/engagement. Kara feels called to “ministries of care, presence, and peace,” and she has gifts for pastoral care for individuals across the lifespan. She is an educator, and says “I love teaching, especially finding new ways to explain and explore familiar themes and concepts of the Christian faith.” She is eager to join FPCW, first to learn what we are doing and then bring her experience and energy to help us make our youth programs even stronger.

Kara has said how much she appreciates collaboration, teamwork, and collegiality. She is eager to work with the entire congregation and recognizes the value of volunteers. She is committed to engaging with all members of FPCW and we look forward to partnering with Kara.

Please join us in welcoming Kara! Her first day is Tuesday, January 17.