Let's Celebrate 2 New Pastors!
We are excited to announce that elder Michelle Rader and Children's Director, Michael Yudt, have successfully completed the studies and requirements to become Ordination candidates at Damascus Road! Learn more about the candidates and download their Ordination Summaries:
Michelle Rader grew up as a PK (preacher’s kid. She was born in Scotland where her father was pastoring churches in Perth and Crief. When she was 5, her parents moved to Elyria, Ohio to pastor a church. This is where she met her husband Jerry, whose family attended the church. (She has a picture of the two of them sitting next to each other at her 5th birthday party.) Shortly thereafter, Michelle’s father moved to take an administrative position with the Ohio conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Michelle spent her elementary years visiting numerous churches throughout Ohio as her dad visited and preached, and spent many happy weeks playing at the church youth camp when her dad served as camp pastor or led church meetings. Michelle was baptized at age 10 along with her sister. She often served as a pianist for her church worship services, as well as for churches which she visited with her father.
When Michelle was 14, her family moved to the Washington, DC area, where her father took a job as the editor of Ministry Magazine, a journal aimed at pastors. Like many teenagers, Michelle went through a period of questioning her faith, but reached a new stage of commitment after reading a number of books by Catherine Marshall, especially A Man Called Peter. She finished high school in 3 years, and then moved to Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University), where she re-met Jerry, and also began taking theology classes with Richard Fredericks. Michelle and Jerry were married in 1989, age 19 and 20 respectively. Michelle graduated in 1992 with degrees in English and Religion.
During college, Michelle and Jerry became involved with Acts 29 – the small group Bible study which was the forerunner to Damascus Road Community Church. Lifelong friendships and much spiritual growth resulted from this involvement and they have been active members in the DRCC story from the beginning. After college, Michelle began working in finance, while Jerry pursued entrepreneurial opportunities in the Christian music industry (where he acquired his sound mixing abilities). From 1994 – 1998, Michelle worked as the Compliance Officer and Human Resource Manager for Campbell & Company, a commodity advisor in Baltimore.
Michelle had her first child, Gavin, in 1999. In 2000, Michelle and Jerry founded Corridor Mortgage Group, a mortgage lending firm, which now has offices in multiple states. Two more children followed: Gillian in 2001 and Gabrielle in 2003. In 2004, Michelle joined the recently formed DRCC elder team. In 2005, Michelle and Jerry were called to adopt two girls – Jacqui (age 13) and Monique Walker (age 10) – after their mother (a DRCC member) was killed in a car accident. A blended family of five children has provided much joy, fun, challenge, memories, and growth for all! Michelle has homeschooled 4 of her 5 children for some or all of their elementary and high school education. She began the next phase of her own education in 2013, studying hermeneutics with the London School of Theology. In 2015, she switched to the MA in Theology program at the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s University and Seminary in Baltimore. She graduated with an M.A. in Spring, 2019, and also served as a research assistant for Dr. Michael Gorman. She continues to serve as a research assistant, co-teach graduate classes at the Ecumenical Institute, and serves on their Board.
Michelle and Jerry have served as facilitators for Dynamic Marriage classes, are certified in the SYMBIS pre-marital curriculum, and currently co-lead a young adult bible study. Michelle has also served over the years as a worship coordinator, youth leader, bible study leader, recently taught a class on Romans for the church, and preaches regularly in weekend services. She loves serving the church as an elder, and especially enjoys providing the elder team with study and research for various theological discussions, as well as writing position papers and other statements. She also counts it a privilege to provide pastoral care and prayer to members through the congregational prayer time, anointings, and hospital visits.
Growing up as the son of a pastor, Michael was often asked if he was going to be a minister someday like his dad. He would often smile and politely answer back, “No, I don’t think so.” But as time passed, it became clear to Michael that God had other plans.
Born in Michigan, Michael’s family moved twice before settling in Milford, CT. Michael looks back with fond memories to his time in Milford as this is where he started kindergarten and graduated high school. His parents have since moved to Lititz, PA, but it was in Milford where Michael was tested in his faith and decided to make an all in commitment to Jesus Christ when he was baptized at the age of 12.
This commitment to Christ actually started much earlier in Michael’s life, at the age of 3, as he was asking his dad questions about God and heaven. This experience, and many subsequent ones, have helped shape Michael’s passion to reach the next generation for Jesus.
Upon graduating high school, Michael went to Messiah College in Grantham, PA. During his four years at Messiah, Michael was stretched and challenged in his thinking as he was exposed to a variety of Christian traditions and practices. While at Messiah, Michael studied politics and served in the student government. Convinced that he was going to go to law school, God redirected his steps to ministry.
Following graduation from Messiah College in 2003, Michael worked for nearly 10 years at the National Fatherhood Initiative followed by nearly 3 years at Care Net’s national headquarters. Michael’s passion for strengthening families and protecting the most vulnerable children was a natural bridge to his current role as Director of Children’s Ministry.
Having met his now wife, Kelly, in 2004, they were married the next year. Today, Kelly and Michael are the proud parents of three boys: Caleb (15), Joshua (13), and Nathanael (11). From 2005-2009, Michael and Kelly lived in Baltimore County, but felt called to move to Frederick County in 2009, settling in the city of Frederick. For Kelly, this was a return home as she was born and raised in the area, having graduated from Linganore High School in 1997.
Upon moving to Frederick in 2009, Michael and Kelly fell in love with DRCC right away and felt a strong prompting from God to make this their church home. In 2012, Michael was ordained as an Elder and in January 2016, he came on staff as the Director of Children’s Ministry. The following year (2017), Michael began a five and a half year journey at Regent University’s School of Divinity to earn his Master of Divinity (MDiv).