If it weren't for a conversation with a Young Life leader in the ninth grade, the Rev. Greg Kronz might not be where he is today.
Kronz, rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island, said the Christian youth ministry had a huge impact on his life.
"I was a church-going, God-fearing, law-abiding person," Kronz said. "But I really didn't understand the Gospel until I went to Young Life."
The Pittsburgh native said the Young Life leader challenged him to start reading the Bible daily. In 1971, he started reading it every day. And he hasn't stopped since.
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"(The Young Life leader) talked about a personal relationship with God through Jesus as opposed to obeying rules and laws (in the Bible)," Kronz said. "He talked about Jesus winning our salvation on the cross with his death and the power of resurrection as opposed to earning our way through following the law. ... That's what changed my life."
Kronz later became a Young Life leader while studying at the University of Pittsburgh. He ended up changing his major from chemical engineering to religious studies and philosophy.
But he still wrestled with the idea of going into ministry. So in the early 1980s Kronz sought the advice of John Stott, a famous British pastor. And Stott said something the local church leader will never forget.
"I asked John how he knew he was called into the ordained ministry," Kronz said. "And John said the line I needed to hear. ... 'Greg, it's not that I couldn't do anything else; it's that I couldn't do anything else.' "
Kronz understood. He knew he was capable of doing other jobs. He had worked at a restaurant all the way through high school and college. Between college and seminary, he sold insurance, was an administrative assistant and worked as a college admissions counselor.
But like Stott, Kronz knew he couldn't spend his life working in any field other than ministry.
"The Lord used all of those (jobs) to preme for full-time ordained ministry," Kronz said.
After accepting the call, Kronz took a job as assistant rector at a church in Pittsburgh and later as assistant rector at a church in San Antonio. And in September 1992, he took over as rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island. Kronz and his wife of 32 years, Meredith, raised three children on the island.
Kronz said he has enjoyed watching the church blossom over the past 19 years. With about 1,000 members now, the church's Bible studies and small groups have multiplied. And they've added some contemporary music to their worship services.
"It was clearly God's call on my life," Kronz said about ministry.