On this episode of the Quest for New Inspiration, I am honored to share my interview with Keith Neill from First Presbyterian Church in Hutchinson, KS. He was a significant inspiration in my life during my high school career, and I can't wait for him to share his inspiration with you!
My name is Keith Neill and I lived most of my life in Portadown in the beautiful and wonderful Northern Ireland before making the big move to Hutchinson Kansas.
I am married to the love of my life Jennifer and we have two grown up children Cheryl and Simon. Cheryl lives in Hutchinson with her husband Todd and our granddaughter Chloe. Simon lives Just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland.
I suppose you could say I’m a big Jesus fan, sports fan, I love football, real football (soccer to you) and in general a lover of life!
I believe that when we chase our dreams we can discover our true potential and reach amazing heights in our lives.
Transcript: ( Autogenerated )
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the quest for new inspiration. My name is Katie Maschler. And if this is your first time listening, my mission with this podcast is to leave you with a little dose of inspiration at the end. I simply do this by interviewing some not so well known people who have some awesome advice to share. this week, I am super excited to share with you my interview with my youth director, Keith Neil. He currently lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, but is from Portadown in Northern Ireland. And he will explain to you his move, but he was a big inspiration over my high school journey. And I am very honored to know him and his entire family. If you are in the area and if you're interested, Make sure you head to first Presbyterian church, you will not be [00:01:00] disappointed. I hope he inspires you as much as he inspired me.
Keith Neil: Well, hi, I'm uh, Keith ne and, uh, as you'll hear, I'm not a, a native of America.
Um, I came from Northern Ireland. Uh, the Hutchinson Kansas, seven and a half almost. It'll be eight years next, February work. and, uh, yeah, it's been quite, quite a journey. Everybody will ask, how on earth do they end up in Hutchinson Kansas? And I usually say, well, everybody in Ireland, just lungs to go to Hutchinson Kansas because , it's the center, the universe.
But, uh, it it's been a funny journey for me. I was raised all my life in, in Northern Ireland, a place called quarter down. And, uh, had a great, had a great upbringing. Good family, uh, loved sport, loved playing, um, soccer have to say soccer to you. Cuz we said football. [00:02:00] You were thinking it was an American footballer, but no, um, soccer and rugby and all sports and played tennis and um, everything old Ryan sport for me.
So I wanted to be a sports superstar growing up. Never happened, went into the sports business and, and for, for a long time And, and then things just developed. I was yeah. Doing stuff in, in church, um, and volunteering as a youth worker and over the years that just grew and grew that, uh, we finally packed in the business that I had and started full-time youth work and, and ended up somehow in Hutch ANSYS, but mainly because of a thing called the ster project.
That brought young, young teens across from Maryland, uh, to, to work and to be involved with other teens in America for a month. And so that was the connection to HUD. And then our daughter got married. They gave him Huson, so, [00:03:00] and had a granddaughter. And so there's been plenty of poll to get us to Huson.
So that's, that's a brief, that's as brief as I ever did. So that's good.
KT Maschler: That's perfect. Well, I had the honor of getting you to be my youth director for quite some time. I think goes. Well, the four years I was in high school. And then I definitely have kept that relationship up. I love having you in my life.
And you are one of the biggest inspirations, especially when I was pretty sick in high school. And that meant the world to me. So I'm so happy to have you on
Keith Neil: today. Well, I'm so privileged her to be on.
KT Maschler: All right. Well, what kind of inspired, you know, this path to help kids find their path with God or not only just find their path with God, but just in general help kids.
Keith Neil: Yeah, I think it it's just something that's always been there. It's uh, you know, I I've been thinking about that. What, what starts [00:04:00] it off? And I think it's probably my upbringing. I think it's the family you grew up in. And there, there was always that desire to just to do something, you know, just to, to be someone for somebody.
Um, and I think it did start for me when I went to America on the ster project and people invested in me because they seen potential in me. And I think I, at the time of 15 years of age, when that's happening to. That is not in your, you know, you're not thinking that it's not your philosophy at all.
You're just thinking I'm here to have a good time, but the seeds that were sown there and the things, um, that happened there, as you look back on life, you see how the played a big part in making you who you are. So I think it's just always been there. I think it's as part of my DNA. I don't think there's any magic moment as such when.
Everything clicked. There was just a gradual progression towards a.
KT Maschler: Do you have anything? Cause you have [00:05:00] definitely kind of, I wouldn't UN say revolutionized Presbyterians church the past couple of years, but, um, you've definitely upgraded the, not only the youth program, but then also the music program. Do you wanna talk a little bit about that?
Keith Neil: Yeah. Well music is between sport and music. Those would be two of my passions. So, I've been, I was involved at, at home in Ireland, uh, and in England and various places with very, with modern contemporary worship with, um, although I was brought up church of Ireland, which is like an, which is GLI gonna such, and it's insane quite street.
Um, they have a, a bit of a wild side as well. You could kind of, and, uh, and, and so that, that always appealed to me of developing, trying to develop worship. That actually people could find I relevance in and didn't find it as odd as maybe it is, you know? And I keep saying to people, no matter what [00:06:00] we do in church, uh, whether we think we're trendy and whether we think we're cool.
And whether we think this is, this is good. Does somebody who has never been there before? It's weird. So I, how do you take the weirdness away from that? Um, has been my goal of se of using. You know, videos and using different ways and different types of music and. A more relaxed style. Um, I know the church was a bit shocked when I told them we were gonna start, start this service.
And if you wanted to come in your pajamas, that would be great. Yes. Uh, but I really meant that, you know, to me, we should just be comfortable. It should be like coming home. And that, that's what I've always wanted to try and develop a, so when you walk into church, it's not an odd place, but it's like being home.
You find your home, you find a place to be and be accepted for no matter who you are. And I think that's the important bit, you know, I want everybody, somebody seen potential in me at one stage when I could see no potential in me other than a troublemaker or [00:07:00] a bit of a, you know, um, and, and so my, my heart really wants to see people be able to come baggage, mess every everything, and know they're accepted and know that nobody looks down at them.
Um, because that's what I believe the God that I know is like, because he let me in. So, you know, uh, so I think that's, that's been the development and it continues to develop and it continues to change. and yeah, you, we don't do anything wild and WAKY as such , but for Presbyterians, I was never a Presbyterian that arrived in America.
So as I say, um, But it is a bit wild and wacky in, in, in ways. Uh, but I think it's relatable. If, if it's not relatable, nobody's going to stay around. That's just my opinion. Anyway.
KT Maschler: yes. I love coming back to church. You, what you have done in the past couple years has been amazing and I am just so grateful that you [00:08:00] had an opportunity to come to Hutchinson.
So is there like anything that you kind of. Do when you kind of get like that kind of pushback from the church and they're like, Hmm, maybe not. Where do you kind of like, look for inspiration or like, how do you move forward with that?
Keith Neil: Well, I think people have asked me their question loads of times at different things, you know, about getting push back from the church.
I have to, I haven't had pushback from the church, really. You know, people have embraced them, but I think I have found over the years, the most important thing is to build up trust. You know, if people don't trust you, they're not gonna follow you or else they're like minions, you know, heading toward a cliff.
Um, they're, they're, they're being stupid, you know? So, um, I think you have to build up that, that trust and you have to build up a respect that everything that you're trying to do is, is not the rock that boat. it's to actually make a difference. And, and I think if you share that with people and you just don't jump in [00:09:00] and automatically just change everything, you know, the new service that we did came because people in church asked, could we do something new?
So when people ask you to do something new, you can do something new . And, and so to sort of accept that, and it takes a while, maybe for others who don't understand the. to accept what's going on. But I think eventually I think now within the church, whether you go to that contemporary, modern service or, or, or not everybody respects what it's doing, you know, and, and the seeing new faces come into the church and get involved in church.
Who normally wouldn't have walked through the doors, you know? So, um, for me, the pushback hasn't been really there, but over the years, there are things where that, that you try and, and you want to do, and people stand in your way or they don't, they don't get it. And you just have to be. You just have to be strong.
You know, I think that's one of the things that, you know, if you believe in something [00:10:00] and you have a passion for something, you need to have the strength to carry that through. So you, you know, um, if you're passionate about something and somebody doesn't agree with you and you buckle on under that, then you lose that passion.
I think you lose yourself. So, uh, being strong, uh, knowing where you're going. and knowing that it's not just a whim or a fancy you're doing, but you're trying to do something that's a appealing. You know, um, it's something, obviously I enjoy. And to me, if you enjoy something, then hopefully others will enjoy it as well.
You know? So, uh, pushback hasn't been big, but when I do get, get that, I'm quite a strong, determined person uh, to actually say, well, you know, let's give it a try. if it, if it feels. Then maybe you, you were right. I was wrong and that's okay. Yeah. But, uh, I think that openness and not just saying that we'll not get everything right.
And I will certainly not get everything right. And will make mistakes and will fail at some things, but [00:11:00] it's okay to fail. As long as you get back up. And as I would say in Kansas, get back in the saddle and right off, you know, and see, see what's around the corner, you know?
KT Maschler: oh my goodness. That's perfect.
Okay. Well, I won't wanna take too much of your time, but you mentioned earlier that you might have been a bit of a troublemaker. What would your younger. Think of what you're doing now and the impact you're making with all these kids?
Keith Neil: oh yeah. I think my younger self would've just set probably and laughed, you know, and thought really, really, it didn't strike.
It didn't strike me. I, I wasn't a troublemaker in the sense of it was really bad. It was the fact that if, you know, in school, all I was interested in was sport really. Um, and so I like to play a joke, so I like to be center of attention. Mm-hmm so in class that that's where the trouble would've came, you know, , um,[00:12:00] And, and I, I always seen it as well.
Everybody else laughed with you or maybe they were laughing at you. So I'm not sure which of those, but it didn't strike me until I started doing youth work at home. Uh, for the church that I grew up in actually, and one of my jobs was that on a Friday, I went into the school with all the other youth workers or ministers, and we took the assembly.
They still have assemblies back home. Um, and one of us would've spoke each week. And then you took a class. Of all the kids that were involved in your church or involved in your youth work, you know, and you got 40 minutes with or 35 minutes after. So the, my, my first day of speaking in the assembly, the vice principal, who, who was my soccer coach, who taught me geography, uh, yeah.
Who, who knew me well, and most of the staff that had taught me were still at the school. And so he got up there and introduced me to the students. And, uh, and he said, [00:13:00] I wanna say to you, on behalf of all the staff here, that the person I'm gonna introduce to you and say, he's gonna come and speak to you this morning as one of the youth workers or pastors is someone who in our wildest dream, we would never have believed would stand on this stage for this reason.
And I think it was at that moment, I sort of thought, oh dear. You know, uh, what does that say? But. I think the, the lovely thing was I always had a great relationship with the staff, you know, and even after left school and grew up, met them on the streets, I always wanted to talk to you. So I might have been a bee bit of a troublemaker, but it was a nice troublemaker, you know, that sort of, can you be that?
Uh, yeah, for sure.
KT Maschler: I know exactly
Keith Neil: what you mean. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. Feel honorary, as you would say here at times. So, uh, So I think my younger self would've looked and thought, nah, no, you're kidding me. You know but it is what it is.[00:14:00]
KT Maschler: All right. Um, a, what is one of your top? Inspirational songs that you have, or just go to songs when you're feeling low.
It doesn't have to be necessarily one of the songs at church. Just anything
Keith Neil: the, yeah. I've two that really stick out for me. And they're both from Irish bands as such an ones from you two, uh, which is with, or without you. was always a song and I don't know why, but it just always stuck with me. And I, I can turn anything into spiritual thing, you know?
So with, or without you, you know, can there's there there's a sermon in there somewhere mm-hmm . And so you maybe gimme inspiration for dinner, sermon on you. You too. And with her without you.
KT Maschler: Oh, oh, you'll have to send me that. I'll do it. I'll tune in for
Keith Neil: sure. Um, but that the, that has been one of the other ones from a barn called snow patrol.
And probably their most famous song would've been chasing Kias, but the one that I really like [00:15:00] is just say yes. Um, so you ever get a chance to listen to just say, yes, it's, it's, it's great. I, to me, it's what I want to be in life. I just wanna say yes. You know, I mean, there are times you have to say in know, but in God terms, when he says to me, you know, there's more and to go for more, I just wanna be that person that says, yeah, Um, yes, I'll do I'll do that.
So that song has a special meaning. Um, for me too, and I thought it would be good to throw in a couple of good Irish bands, you know? Yes. Every everything good comes from Ireland, you say, oh, really?
KT Maschler: Okay. yes. Well, I know, I sure know one thing that has been pretty good for Hutchinson in general. no, thank you.
Well, um, any lab of you have to share,
Keith Neil: I think, you know, E everybody thinks if you had that moment, when you could share something with someone, what would you say? And then we draw a complete blank and think, yeah. And after this, th this is over, I'll probably think of three or four things [00:16:00] that I should have said.
but I, I just think, you know, we, we need to be ourselves. I think that this world, we try and be what we think everybody else wants us to be. You know that, uh, we have to look a certain way. We have to talk a certain way. You know, if you don't have an Irish accent, you're not talking properly, all that sort of stuff.
and we are very driven by what others think. And I would just say, you know, for, for me, you need to be else. Everybody needs to find who they are in their own identity. um, because it's there that you're gonna feel happy it's there, that you're gonna feel comfortable it's there, that you're gonna flourish.
Um, because if you're trying to be somebody else and something that you're not, it's just gonna be an uphill struggle. And I think that's why we have so many influencers in ways, who you think have made it to the time. Of influencing. Is that a word, you know, of influencing? Yeah. Of in, of, of influencing and, and, and, and suddenly [00:17:00] sadly their life is just shattered around them or, you know, they've committed suicide or there's something.
And, and often we're trying to be, I don't think maybe they're trying to be something that they aren't, there's this public image that we try to do who's should not, and it isn't really ourselves. So think fighting yourself, fighting what you're comfortable in, and then just accepting that. It's very hard, you know, just accepting this, this is me and I have to make the best of me, you know?
And, uh, and I think that, that that's a beautiful place to be, you know, whe when you get into that comfort zone, um, I don't like living in a comfort zone. I think it's good to be outside your comfort zone, but not in your personality and who you are as a person. Um, be yourself. Um, enjoy what that all means and start to unpack.
What does look cause we, we have a lot of unpacking to do in life. The older you get in life, um, you can see that, you know, there's stuff I should have left behind a long time ago where [00:18:00] there's stuff I wish this had to happened or that had to happened. And then when you stop and think all those things happened for a reason.
And it happened because it makes you who you are today. So I think grab and hold of that and just be yourself. Uh, don't try and imitate anybody else and just live life, the full, whatever that means to whoever's listening, you know, live life to, to the full that's gonna mean different things for different PE people.
Uh, but don't never sell yourself short.
KT Maschler: That's beautiful. I love it. So if anyone wanted to find out more about you or connect with you or even possibly come to first Presbyterian for one of those awesome services, where would they go? Well,
Keith Neil: if, if you want to come and visit us, uh we're we're in Hutchson, um, on 201 east, she.
The main way to find it is, you know, you drive down main street, you find first national bank and you turn down the street and, uh, and you arrive at [00:19:00] this big building is called first Presbyterian church. um, so you can come along there. Um, you can watch us on online each week. The service that I do is online on a Sunday afternoon, we record it.
Um, and you'll find that at, on our email@example.com or FPC hutch.org/worship online. And if you go on the website, my phone numbers there, um, emails, are there, uh, happy to connect up with anybody if they wanna have conversation or just wanna say hi, or if there's another Irish person out there listening and thinks, oh, I must get talking to somebody else to talks properly.
Um, then please do drop us alone. Call us whatever. Yeah.
KT Maschler: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today
Keith Neil: that not at all. Thank you. See you again.
And that is it for this week's episode. Thank you so much for tuning in it truly does mean the world to [00:20:00] me. If you want to show your support for the quest for new inspiration, make sure you check out our merge store and get that bubbly. But blunt, sweatshirt.
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