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James Newby

James and Karen

James Newby, pastor of GCI churches in Joliet and NW Chicago, Illinois has been married to Karen for 19 years. They have six children: a son James (15) and five daughters: Jessica (13), Jemma (11), Josianna (9), Jade (7) and Jennifer (4). James affectionately refers to them as J1, J2, J3, J4, J5 and J6.

Newby children
Newby children

James grew up in Connecticut. “I was an adventurous, only child who rode his bicycle everywhere, including on a paper route. I saved my money, and by the time I entered college I had just enough to cover the $1900 down payment. It seems that ‘squeaking by’ is how I move into the next thing.”

James began attending WCG with his dad in the middle 70s. His mother followed later. “It was my first brush with formal religion. My mom was a non-practicing Catholic and my dad a disgruntled Scottish Presbyterian. They got married agreeing to believe in God but to not get entangled with church.”

In 1981, when Ambassador College reopened the Big Sandy campus, James moved to Texas to be a student. He finished his education in Pasadena. “After an extended college experience I moved to the United Kingdom, taking advantage of dual-citizenship and there became a ministerial trainee. After one year I was sent to Kenya for nearly three years, then returned to the UK. In 1995, after the doctrinal changes began to take a financial toll on the church, I was ‘let go’ (with the intention of staying in the UK as an unsalaried elder). But the opportunity opened to relocate to the US—and the Chicago-land area is where we’ve been since.”

For James, pastoring is where God led him and where God wanted him. “It was the course God laid out for me; from the time I went to college my prayer has always been ‘your will be done’ and I had a passion for working with our youth and camp ministries during my college years.” He has continued that passion by focusing on his neighborhood and immediate community. “I may not have the greatest ‘skill set’ and I may sometimes lose focus, but I want for nothing more than to see the good news transform my neighborhood—our Jerusalem—then Judea, Samaria and the world.”

GCI’s transformation has renewed James’ passion. “I enjoy our renewed vision—the redeeming work of our Shepherd Jesus, who has taken us on a journey toward missional discipling. I am grateful for his grace and patience and his revelation of the wonderful mystery of his triune nature and the power of the gospel which tells us we are included in Jesus’ life and love. I am grateful for the opportunity to declare that Jesus didn’t die ‘only’ to deal with our ‘sin problem’—rather he dealt with it so that we might have wholeness through fellowship with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, and with all of the redeemed. Sinde I began to believe it, the good news became even better!”

James’ passion is to see the church be the church. “I weep and ache and am learning how to work to see the redeemed—the reconciled, the included, the disciples—be on fire for the gospel, to live as community within the community, in the power of the good news. I long to see the reality of the church living loved and living sent, on mission with Jesus. I know this sounds like the new religious, in-speak, jargon of the decade, but I don’t see this as a passing fad or the church program of the moment. In our ‘landing on’ the Trinitarian truth of who God is and why he made us, I think we’ve landed on our calling—summed up in our mission motto: Living and Sharing the Gospel. I want to see the church be the church.”

When asked about a mentor, James said many have stood in the gap for him. “Many have been inspirational and have had mentoring roles along the way; some are no longer with us because of doctrinal differences, but even from within our old doctrinal paradigm, there were those who did an amazing job of mentoring me. In the last decade, it was Dave Fiedler who had the greatest impact on my ministry as an older-brother/father in the faith. He encouraged and championed and fought with determination to see the grace of God transform the pastors under his care. His impact will always be remembered as stalwart, passionate and compassionate.”

James says that his most memorable moment as a pastor was baptizing four of his six children. When asked when he feels closest to God, he replied, “Right now!”

8 thoughts on “James Newby”

  1. It is wonderful to read about such passion for the Gospel! Historians list a couple of US “Great Awakenings” but I am convinced that any next Great Awakening has to based in what we are now experiencing in Trinitarian Theology. God Bless you and Karen and your J’s!

  2. James and Karen have a passion for youth ministry. He has a special gift with ministering to youth and is blessed with musical skills. Their children are an absolute delight. God bless the Newby’s, their children and their ministry.

  3. Thanks for sharing your life story with us. I remember when you were a ministerial trainee under John Meakin. We are still attending the Brighton church which meets in Lewes. I agree with what you wrote about our Sprit led direction.

  4. James,
    It is a joy to see your passion for the Gospel. I too agree that GCI has indeed “landed on” our calling in the
    Trinitarian truth. I pray that the Father, Son and Spirit
    bless you in your ministry to effectively articulate
    the goods news of who God is and who we are in him!

  5. Newby family, thank you for the glimpses of your life experience, sense of purpose you have and the beautiful pictures shared. God bless you in continued service to many of his people and in that to all.

  6. Thanks for the bio, James. We first met Karen when she was a toddler (I wont give the year but it is hard to believe it was so long ago). It is the first time we have seen a picture of your children and we enjoyed reading of your ongoing dedication to our great God and also to GCI.

  7. Dear James and Family,
    It is a wonderful joy to delight in the Lord, and to see your family relish in the goodness of Jesus’ leadership within his direction for you! Continue in the beautiful relationship you have with Jesus, and lead in your passion ever stronger in the Lord than before. From an old friend, may God continually bless your labors of love, unto the Kingdom!

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