TV news career prepared pastor for hectic ministry life
The directors of television newscasts lead intense, even frantic professional lives. They work long, caffeinated hours weaving together the up-to-the-minute contributions of producers, photographers and anchors into — they hope — coherent broadcasts.
It’s much the same as shepherding a congregation, says Erica Van Brakle, a veteran of TV news production-turned-American Baptist pastor.
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Rev. Erica Van Brakle serves as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of La Grange. A native Illinoisan, Erica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Television Production from Columbia College Chicago. After working in the Television news industry in Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston and Kansas City, Erica returned to the classroom receiving her Master of Divinity from Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
Following seminary, she married David Van Brakle and moved to Saginaw, MI where David was serving as the Pastor of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church. While in Saginaw, Erica served as a Chaplain at Covenant Hospital and Youth Pastor at Michigan Avenue Baptist Church. She also served as the Vice President and President of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan.
Next, Erica and David moved to Syracuse, NY where they served as Associate Pastors at De Witt Community Church, a large non-denominational church. While serving as the Associate Pastor of Worship Arts & Student Ministries, Erica gave birth to their first son, Ethan.
A call to the Community Church of Wilmette for David brought the family back to Illinois. Two months after the move to Chicagoland, William was born. After taking a year off to spend time with her boys, Erica accepted the call to serve as Pastor of The First Baptist Church of La Grange, IL.
Erica currently serves as the Secretary of The Ministers Council of Metro Chicago and will represent the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago at the Mission Table, a gathering of people who come together to further advance God’s work among American Baptist congregations in common areas of mission and ministry.