Gabi O'Rourke

A beacon of youth ministry and faith: Gabi O’Rourke, Moen Chair

North Central University is pleased to announce that for fall 2023, the Moen Chair for Pentecostal Preaching will be shared by two dynamic pastors, Chris Pruett ’05 and Gabrielle (Norman ’16) O’Rourke. This distinguished Moen Chair represents NCU’s deep commitment to the school’s Pentecostal heritage and ethos.

In selecting two individuals to fill the Moen Chair this fall, Interim President Doug Graham ’86, D.Min., noted that the Moen Chair is filled every semester by someone who has achieved a level of excellence in vocational ministry, but not has not previously focused on a specific area such as children’s or youth ministry. “We felt the time was right to expand this role to shine light on children and youth, due to the importance of reaching our young people or Christ,” Graham said. “Chris Pruett and Gabi O’Rourke are excellent representatives of these ministry areas, and we are thrilled for our students to learn from them this fall.”

In this second of two articles about the fall Moen Chairs, we introduce Gabrielle (Gabi) O’Rourke, who brings a unique perspective to this role, highlighting youth ministry and the essential role of the Church in connecting with youth.

Early days and education

Gabi O’Rourke came to college with her sights set on a major in Elementary Education to prepare her for the mission field, but the spark of a spiritual calling early during her NCU experience led her instead toward a major in Pastoral Studies. She began an internship at River Valley Church (Minnesota) in youth ministry and found a passionate fire igniting in her soul.

Seven years later, she clearly remembers the progression. “I felt like my eyes were open to the weight of pastoring,” she reflected. “That surprised me when I first stepped in. To this day, I feel the weight of understanding the need to raise up the next generation of Christ-followers.”

Growth and impact

O’Rourke experienced a deep connection with the youth she served and excelled in her role at River Valley so much that she was offered a full-time role as an Associate Youth Pastor before she even graduated!

Over the past seven years, she has continued to refine her approach, discovering not only her gifts for youth ministry but also leadership. Her most recent role as Lead Youth Pastor at River Valley Church finds her overseeing all youth ministries across 10 sprawling campuses.

O’Rourke’s trajectory marks a journey from being “wide-eyed” and inexperienced to becoming a confident, visionary leader in youth ministry. The initial years were marked by curiosity, soaking in wisdom, learning, and discovering her unique voice. As she solidified her identity and constructed her vision, her growth, and self-discovery have shaped not only her ministry but also deeply influenced her roles as a wife, mother, and community member.

A visionary leader

As the lead youth pastor of one of the largest churches in Minnesota, O’Rourke shoulders the vision, resources, and development of youth ministries at River Valley. With dreams to expand and reach new heights, she oversees a dedicated team of youth pastors.

Not expecting it

Being invited as the Moen Chair for North Central is deeply meaningful for O’Rourke. “When I got the call about Moen Chair, I was floored,” she exclaimed. “I was not expecting it. It’s a huge honor, and it’s very humbling to be asked to serve in this role. I remember as a student, you would hear of the Moen Chair speaker coming in and preaching in chapel.”

O’Rourke is especially excited to be able to interact with students during the first semester. “I remember as a student during chapels seeing God do a lot! I think there’s a hunger within the student body to say, ‘Okay, we have vision for what you want to do in our lives, [Lord], and we’re hungry to step into that.’”

Previous Moen Chair speakers had an impact on O’Rourke during her student days, as she experienced their wisdom, guidance, and faith. Now, she looks forward to contributing to that rich legacy, sharing her insights from the chapel stage and in classrooms, and nurturing the spiritual growth of the next generation of leaders.

A model for the next generation

O’Rourke’s story serves as an inspiring beacon for those seeking their calling and willing to pursue it relentlessly. Her dedication to youth ministry, coupled with her personal growth and leadership skills, align with her selection as Moen Chair. She is eager to continue the tradition of those who’ve held this title, serving as a source of inspiration and guidance for Next Gen leaders.

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