Preacher Kids at CMU
When it comes time to start college, many look to it as a time for a fresh start. For the children of five United Methodist pastors in the Missouri Conference, they left home and left behind their status of PK or preacher’s kid. But they didn’t leave the United Methodist moniker behind. They are students at Central Methodist University.
John Will is a PK times two: his father is Rev. Michael Will, an elder serving New Hope, Sturgeon and Riggs, three rural United Methodist Church north of Columbia. His mother is an associate pastor at Saint Andrew Lutheran Church in Columbia.
Like many Columbia youth, Will initially thought he would go to MU. Then he found he could go to Moberly Area Community College through the A+ program. But both of those plans sounded like he would continue to live at home, but as graduation neared, he thought it was time to get out on his own.
His dad encouraged him to apply at CMU. Will played football for Battle High School in Columbia, and three of his friends from the team went to CMU, which influenced his decision to go there, along with the United Methodist discount.
Will is a physics major and works as a lab assistant in two labs this year. He previously worked at the rec center, where he made a lot of friends. He found people to be very friendly.
“I was wearing a cow-print hat, and someone complimented me on it, and next thing I know I’m invited to play in their ultimate Frisbee game, which was a blast,” he said. He later reflected on how cool it was to connect with people and make friends because someone liked your hat.
Abby Wimberley is the daughter of Rev. Sarah Wimberley, an elder serving Northern Boulevard UMC in Independence.
Family ties led Wimberley to give CMU a look. Her grandparents graduated from the school in the 1951 and 1952, and she has two cousins attending there now. She liked the size of the school when she visited.
“With 1,400 students on campus, it is about the size of my high school,” she said. She attended William Chrisman in Independence.
Wimberley’s mother started seminary when Abby was in kindergarten. She had different appointments through the years, but they were all in the same area, so Abby never had to move or change schools. Abby’s peers definitely thought of her as a Preacher’s Kid.
“My mom was always very involved in the community and the school while serving as pastor, so everyone knew her,” she said.
Wimberley said she didn’t really view herself as a PK because she didn’t fit the stereotype of a kid who rebels against the church. Quite the opposite; she embraced it.
“I was very into CCYM mission trips, sometimes doing five or six in a summer,” Wimberley said. “My shirts always had paint on them from doing mission work somewhere.”
While her mother was appointed to different churches, Wimberley stayed connected to her home church, Christ UMC in Independence. Now Wimberley attends chapel on Tuesdays at CMU and attends services at Missouri UMC on weekends, where she’s a big fan of Rev. Charity Goodwin and Rev. Hank Jenkins, who she knows from mission trips.
Cori Bryan was skeptical of CMU at first. She didn’t consider it a plus that her grandpa, Rev. James Bryan, is on the board of trustees and her uncle, Rev. Brad Bryan, is an alum.
"That made it seem kind of lame to go here,” she said.
But her campus visit turned that around. She is a music education major, and was immediately impressed with Professor Claude Westfall.
“After visiting here, I was confident that this is where I should be,” she said.
She came to CMU on a theater scholarship and hit the ground running. Within a couple of months she was performing in “Our Town” as Rebecca Gibbs, and was then cast as Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
“The theater program here has been great. Mark Kelty is wonderful. I feel I’ve really grown as an actor in a short time,” she said.
When she’s not on stage, she’s traveling with the CMU Chorale, singing at schools and churches all over Missouri.
Bryan’s father, Andy Bryan, was moved from First UMC North Kansas City to Campbell UMC in Springfield when she was in the fifth grade. Her best friend was someone she met through church, but she soon made a lot of friends outside of church. When she was getting to know someone, they always seemed surprised when she told them she was a preacher’s kid. She said they expected a preacher’s kid to either be rebellious or very prim and proper.
“I was just normal,” she said.
She was very involved in church, taking part in youth groups, choir, leadership teams, mission trips and volunteer opportunities It’s carried over to college. She attends chapel on Tuesdays at CMU and has been trying out various local churches on the Sundays that she isn’t on the road with the Chorale. The small town environment is something different for her, but she’s been too busy to run out of things to do.
Allan Lambel played football, baseball and basketball in high school, but now that he’s a freshman in college basketball is his game. An injury had him sidelined early in the season, but in late October he was resuming practice. The first time he really started considering CMU was at a basketball camp.
“We heard from Coach Sherman there,” he said. As graduation got closer, the choice was clear to Lambel. “CMU was always number one,” he said.
Lambel gets the 50 percent tuition discount for being a United Methodist, which helped, but he chose CMU because he was impressed with the school’s athletic training program. He aspires to be an athletic trainer or strength and conditioning coach after college.
Lambel is from Cassville, where his father Rev. Andy Lambel is pastor of Cassville UMC. The town was small enough that he was always known as a preacher’s kid.
“There were several churches there, and all the preachers regularly got together,” he said. “People expect more of you when you’re a preacher’s kid.”
It’s not a label that followed him to college. He has made a lot of connections there, though, through the basketball team and people in the athletic training program.
Emilee Long is a freshman at CMU and is the daughter of Rev. Jennifer Long, a deacon at Morning Star UMC in O’Fallon. When she was considering colleges, she was mostly thinking MU, but her mother encouraged her to give CMU a look.
“I’m a nursing major, and when they gave me a tour of their brand-new nursing facility I was hooked,” she said.
Long is also a 100-meter hurdler and received an athletic scholarship to CMU as well. Although Long’s mother has only been a pastor for a couple of years, her parents were two of a handful of people who planted Morning Star UMC.
“Since we were starting a new church, church was a huge part of our lives, so I always felt like I was in the role of a preacher’s kid,” Long said.
Long has been getting to know people through fall conditioning for track, and just people she sees around campus.
“Since the campus is small, you recognize people wherever you go, and it’s easy to get to know people,” she said.