Who’s Who in the Fox Valley: the Rev. Randy Schoof
Tom Strong firstname.lastname@example.org November 12, 2012 4:24PM
From left, Dave Parrish, community service coordinator; Pastor Randy Schoof; and Joe Holman, community assistant, are members of Warehouse Church in Aurora. | Submitted
Updated: December 17, 2012 2:54PM
As a lifelong East Side Auroran, I have probably traveled up the East Galena Blvd. hill a thousand times, and the landmark at its top was the fortress-looking Knights of Columbus building.
For many years, however, that building has been the site of the Warehouse Church, and I have always noticed its sign and been curious about its name. One sign includes the words “all sinners welcome,” and another petitions “pray to end abortion.”
From time to time, I have read about the church’s pastor, the Rev. Randy Schoof, and some of the local ministries in which he has been involved (immersed may be a better term) over the years. After hearing him speak at a recent pro-life rally, I decided to learn more about this charismatic leader.
He was not embarrassed to tell me that he dropped out of school at the end of his junior year at West High.
“It was mainly due to my drug habit and being a rebellious teenager. I’m not proud of what I did, but I am proud that God changed me,” he said. “By 1977, I had a feeling that if I didn’t do something to change my life that I would be dead within a year. It was an absolute turning point in my life.”
Schoof was offered a spot in a Christian drug rehabilitation program called Teen Challenge, and left this area on a day’s notice for the Colorado program.
“I still call 1977 the best year of my life because it’s when I came to know Jesus Christ,” Schoof said. “I started wanting to live for God and wanting to serve others because God had loved me so much.”
He returned to Aurora, worked and attended Waubonsee College, and played in some local Christian rock bands. He then attended Central Bible College in Missouri, graduated in 1982, and again returned to Aurora.
During the mid-1980s, the ministry that would become the Warehouse Church had its small beginning. Without a plan to start a local church, Schoof and business partner Randy Kerkman began a Bible study group that met one night a week in a small warehouse space in which they built musical equipment.
But with the encouragement of many, the Warehouse Church had its inaugural Sunday service in March 1988.
“We thought about changing the name to a more traditional one,” Schoof said. “But we weren’t very traditional, and we liked the name. We often say that ‘we are storing up treasure for heaven.’”
During the next few years, the congregation rented space for their worship and other activities at different Aurora locations, including Freeman School. At a downtown location, they served community dinners to the poor and neighborhood residents, and also tried to share clothing. There was regular daily contact with the poor and homeless, and weekends sometimes brought concerts with big Christian rock bands.
The Knights of Columbus building became available in 1995 and, after negotiations, Warehouse purchased the building in July of that year.
Schoof pointed with pride to community efforts that included pastors and church members of many denominations coming together during an era of high crime in Aurora. That era reached a low point about the time the church moved to its present location, but Schoof believes the tide was turned, at least in part, by the partnerships and connections among the different groups and their willingness to pray together.
So what are some of the traditional (and not so traditional) ministries that keep the pastor and his church so busy?
Contemporary music, some worship-oriented and some artistic and entertaining, holds an important place. Some of the church members ride motorcycles, and a men’s group builds wooden kayaks, electric guitars or custom leather work together.
“We want to (be) honest with what God has given us that we like to do,” Schoof said. “God gives you certain gifts and abilities, and you’re happiest when you are using them for his glory, and to point others to him. We look for opportunities to bring Jesus naturally into the conversation but not in any forced way.”
Schoof says that one of Warehouse’s biggest values is that of welcoming.
“Our sign says ‘all sinners welcome.’ That God is important is our first value, and our second one is that people are important,” he said.
“We have homeless people that are welcome here. God is not as concerned about our clothes as he is about our hearts.
“And from the beginning, Warehouse Church has always been pro-life,” he says. “We very clearly see from God’s word that he is the one who forms life in the womb. Every human life has great value and worth. It’s not just holding up a sign to let people know the truth, but to provide behind-the-scenes help that pro-life people are accused of not caring about.”
From its modest beginning, the Warehouse Church and Pastor Schoof and his staff have become highly regarded community assets.
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