Story by Jon Davidson; photo by Weeno Photography
Say hello to Maurice Cowley, Imago Dei’s new Pastor of Students.
It’s an understatement to say that Maurice has a heart for kids. He and his wife, Leslie, have four children of their own: Josephine, Xavier, Micah and Elijah. They have also been foster parents to four kids, and Maurice has worked extensively with Young Life, a nationwide para-church youth ministry. Maurice first recognized his calling to work with students at a young age. “When I was in high school,” he says, “the only two jobs I ever wanted were to be a high school teacher or to be a youth pastor. My parents got divorced, and I needed direction. I began going to youth group at New Song, where Eric Knox was the youth pastor. I was in his small group. He showed me that you could be cool, athletic and unapologetically into Jesus all at the same time. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to be the same kind of example for young people.” When you’re a teacher, you end up learning in the process, too. Maurice admits that the biggest thing he’s learned from working with youth is that authenticity in Christ is important. It’s not enough to simply say and do the right things. “I have to allow myself to be transformed continually by God. I get to be filled up in my own time, and everything I do is coming from an overflow of Christ in me. There is no ‘Christian formula,’” Maurice states. He has also learned that it’s possible to be confident and humble at the same time, and is enjoying continuing to grow into the gifts that God has given him.
Maurice and his team have lofty plans for the students of Imago this next year. “I’m really excited to be doing something that it feels like I was made to do,” he declares. He is careful to stress that the team’s objectives are God’s plans, not his. “Everything we do this year will be bathed in prayer. I’m not trying to make something really cool; I’m trying to follow God. This isn’t the Maurice Cowley show. It’s asking, ‘How does God want to be at work, and how do the team and I figure that out, and help make that happen?’”
In what little spare time he has, Maurice is a writer, a poet and a world traveler. His future goals include improving his Spanish, learning to play drums and perfecting his coffee roasting, a skill he acquired when his family’s budget was a little tighter. “I will say that I’ve learned a lot about roasting, and that my coffee is in the ballpark of really good coffee,” he says with his characteristic wry smile. He will not confirm or deny plans to secretly serve his own dark roast during Sunday services at Imago.