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Meet Sydney Harkrider

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Featured, News


Sydney Harkrider will be installed during July 9 worship as our new Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.  Between the two worship services on that day, the congregation will have the opportunity to welcome her to Evanston and First Church.   We had a chance to talk with Sydney on her first day of work and ask her some questions.

Where are you from originally, and what have you been doing in Austin, TX?

I was born and raised in Spring, Texas (suburban Houston) and moved to Austin to attend Southwestern University (fun fact: Southwestern is also Pastor Britt’s alma mater)  and stayed for seminary and my church.  I’ve served as the Director of Youth Ministries and Social Justice Associate at University UMC since 2018 and just finished my Masters of Arts in Youth Ministry at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

How is your minstry with young people meaningful?

I feel very passionate about showing that spirituality and faith aren’t for those who have “earned” it. Often teens see “churchy” people as perfect or even fake, and they don’t see themselves fitting that mold or wanting to be a part of it. I believe it’s my calling to show that no matter where you are on your faith journey or your life journey— you belong here.  

Any personal interests you’d like to share?

If I’m out of town, it’s a high chance I’m at Disneyland. I’m in love with the game elements of the Bachelor franchise, and have even attended a live finale taping on a whim. I usually watch reality TV in secret, so I’d love to chat about some shows sometime. Oh, and I love coffee so please tell me where the good spots are!

Tell me about your family unit.

I met my husband Dee the first week of college, and we’ve been married for (almost) 5 years! We own four of the friendliest cats around, and are always on the brink of adding another to the family. We love to go to comedy shows, concerts, musicals, and plan to become Cubs regulars very soon! 

Any hopes for your this new chapter in Chicagoland?

We are hoping to find all the good spots that make this feel like home, and find some friends along the way. Making friends as an adult is difficult, and we are starting over since we don’t know anyone in the state. We’d love to get advice on where the cool folks hang out!

What is your sense of First Church so far?

I had the honor of touring the building during my interview process and meeting with folks from the congregation. First impressions were that people are very proud of their church. I’ve never seen any place like it, and it definitely made me eager to join in since everyone was so kind and welcoming!

Please reach out to Syd at sydney@faithatfirst.com to welcome her, recommend your favorite coffee place, and share where you like to hang out.