Elder Spotlight | Chris O'Neil

Chris O'Neil

Chris O'Neil

Chris O’Neil and his family are an integral part of Wintonbury. Chris has served as an elder for 12 years, has actively served on the Elder Board for the last six years, and has been Chairman of the Elder Board for the last two years. That may sound a bit intimidating but if you’ve ever met Chris you know that he’s a down-to-earth guy who is fully committed to following Jesus wherever He leads. We thought you’d like to get to know him better. Below are some questions we asked Chris and his answers (with just a wee bit of editing on my part).

Where did you grow up?
Northwestern Connecticut: New Hartford, Barkhamsted, Burlington

Where do you live now?
Granby, CT

What do you like most about New England?
Variety of camping, fishing, boating, and scenery

Married? Kids?
Married to Karen and have three sons, Sean (19), Simon (17), & Samuel (15)

Describe yourself in five words or less?
INTJ, Husband, Father, Teacher, Leader

Profession outside the home?
Own an insurance agency and teach business classes at Central Connecticut State University

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

  • I have a twin brother.
  • Andy Griffith is my inspiration for the type of father, husband, and employer I want to be.

Hobbies?
Sailing, camping, fishing, restoring old machines like a '68 Camaro and a '86 John Deere tractor

Favorite books (besides the Bible)?
Left Behind, Harry Potter

Favorite TV shows?
Andy Griffith, Cheers

Favorite foods?
I am an adventurous eater. I love to try new foods!

Favorite sports team?
I don't really have time to follow sports, but if I HAD to pick one it would be the Red Sox. I like to have the game on while snoozing on the hammock on the rare Saturday afternoon off!

Pet peeve?

  • Dirty dishes in the sink
  • Not putting tools away
  • Having to buy a tool I KNOW I own

How did you end up at Wintonbury?
I started coming when I was dating Karen, got a lot out of Rich's teaching, liked the music, but mostly felt like it was my family so I stayed!

Chris teaching preschool on Sunday mornings

Chris teaching preschool on Sunday mornings

In which ministries do you serve at Wintonbruy?

  • Elder Board 12 years; Chairman of the Elder Board for two years
  • Children's Ministry Preschool Teacher (just filling in until they find someone, but it has been 14 years now)
  • Led various small groups including a Men's Leadership group for the last nine years
  • For 15 years, Karen and I directed the All-Church Labor Day Weekend Retreat.

What do you like most about serving in this way?
The opportunity to help other leaders sense where God is calling Wintonbury and figuring out how to do it. At the same time, getting to build into our next generation by helping them experience that church is fun, safe, and that there is a God in Heaven who loves them very much. I love that the kids come into my class as babies and leave two years later as little people.  What a privilege to watch their "lights come on"!!!

How have you seen or experienced God at work in this ministry? 
Way too many to list, but here are a few highlights... 

  • 14 years ago God totally changed my heart toward small children to see them as precious and delightful rather than an inconvenience and frustration. 
  • God has also showed me how an organization can grow and change in a healthy way, preserving unity even when major changes occur (worship style, Senior Pastor transition, major facilities changes such as buying office building, installing parking lot, remodeling the church entrance & Children’s Ministry wing).
  • God has pressed me into new and previously uncomfortable areas to serve: Children's Ministry, speaking publicly (Leading Communion, EB Chairman) and so on.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Chris. Because he has served as an elder for six consecutive years, he will be stepping down this year for at least a one-year break as required by our constitution. But we’re pretty sure they still haven’t found a replacement for him in Children’s Ministry, so you can find him there on most Sundays!

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