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Rev. Leslie X. Sanders (Pastor X) grew up on the south side of Chicago. After graduating from high school in 1998, Leslie attended Northern Illinois University, and later transferred to Chicago State University where he graduated in 2005 with a BA in Communication, Media Arts, and Theater. At the age of 20, Leslie was nominated and elected a Deacon at HPC. His first pastoral role was serving as Youth and Young Adult Pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church. He served in this role until the fall of 2005. At the behest of his mentor and pastor in 2006 Leslie enrolled at North Park Seminary and finished his Master of Divinity degree in 2013. While in seminary Leslie served on staff as Church Administrator at Oakdale Covenant in 2007-2008. He also received his Covenant Licensure, and began to preach, teach, serve the youth, children, and new disciples. He was also a worship leader. In 2008, he became a campus Pastoral Intern at North Park University, working with undergraduate students. In 2009, Leslie was called to be Associate Pastor of Children’s Ministry at Oakdale Covenant, overseeing ministry to more than 100 children and carrying out other pastoral responsibilities, a position he held until 2012. In 2014, Leslie accepted two part-time positions—Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at First Covenant Church of St. Paul, MN, and Program Manager for East Side Thrive Community Development Corporation in St. Paul. At East Side Thrive Leslie was in charge of revamping, and restructuring the after-school program. Leslie was heavily involved in the preaching, and strategic planning of First Covenant St. Paul. Leslie was also instrumental in helping the Leadership of First St. Paul evaluate its approach to becoming an Inter-Generational and Inter-Cultural church. In June of 2016 Leslie was ordained by the Evangelical Covenant Church at its Annual Meeting in Arizona. Leslie completed his ministry at First St.Paul and accepted a role as Executive Pastor of Kent Covenant Church in Kent, WA (a suburb of Seattle). During his time at Kent Covenant Leslie furthered his call to be a “bridge builder” by helping the KCC community make intentional strides toward its mission of “embracing ethnic diversity” and “teaching biblical justice”. He has a heart for discipleship and mentorship. Leslie also has been a vital part of the joint effort of the ECC’s Love Mercy Do Justice and Make and Deepen Disciples to release the “Justice Journey for Kids” Curriculum. Leslie has been involved in the planning, writing, and implementation phase of this project. In the summer of 2018 he joined Michelle Sanchez and a small group of Covenant Pastors in Boston to be trained as a facilitator for the the posture shift curriculum. He recently embarked on receiving his Spiritual Direction Certificate, as well as Certificate in Congregational Vitality, and plans on finishing them in the near future. He is currently a participant in the ECC’s inaugural 30 for 30 Leadership Cohort. Leslie accepted the call to serve Naperville Covenant Church as Lead Pastor on June 2, 2019. He is looking forward to a long fruitful relationship as NECC strive to be and increasingly diverse community committed to Knowing, Loving, and Serving Jesus in our neighborhood and world.
Leslie married the love of his life Brandi on August 6, 2011. This August will mark 8 years of marriage Leslie and Brandi have two daughters that they cherish. Sarabi is 13 and is gifted in music and sports. Rhyan turned 1 on April 22, 2019 and has brought such joy to Sanders family. Leslie and Brandi cherish both girls, and enjoy spending time as a family eating, traveling, singing and serving Christ.
Kayla Davenport began working at Naperville Covenant Church in August 2015. A graduate of North Park University, she earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music in Worship accompanied by a minor in Spanish. While at North Park, Kayla received a Senior Service Award for her participation in multiple music ensembles including University Choir, University Orchestra, Gospel Touring Ensemble, Concert Band, Woodwind Quintet, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and Worship Teams. In her free time, she started a folk/rock band with some classmates called My Great Elephant, where she got to explore the boundaries of her creative capacity in collaboration with some of her closest friends. Now, she and a friend started a wedding band, Carolina Park, to provide acoustic music for weddings. In addition to music in worship, Kayla has a heart for missions and has spent a few summers working in the community of Managua, Nicaragua and on the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota alongside her husband, Andrew. In other free time, she and Andrew enjoy running, sports, eating ice cream, and playing with their Australian Shepherd, Lakota.
Josiah Cheng is a M.Div. graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has enjoyed wearing many hats in administrative roles, hiring, leading teams, and pastoral work in general. He was born and raised as a Pastor’s kid and has always had a passion for serving within a church. Accepting Jesus at a young age led to having an encounter with God in junior year of high school. This was the moment where God called him to ministry, led him to take on future ministerial roles, and attend seminary. During his time in seminary, Josiah developed a passion and calling to serve in youth and children ministry. His philosophy for this ministry is centered around four focus points: Communication, Origin, Role Models, and Emotion. During his free time, Josiah likes cooking, photography, tennis, and playing video games. What excites him most about working at NECC is being a part of the strategic plan set in motion July 2018. He looks forward to the challenge of implementing this plan into a youth setting and helping them to see the importance of this vision, and how it affects the youth. Overall, he’s excited to work on diversifying the church, furthering its mission, and working towards his ordination with the ECC.
Grace Cheng, his better half, currently works as a Business Operations Administrator at Boston Children’s Hospital in the strategy department. She was raised in Michigan, lived on both coasts, but is a true midwesterner at heart. Her hobbies include running 1 mile more and faster than her last race, making art, spending quality 1 on 1 time with others and outpouring the love that God has given to her to those around her, discovering God’s creation in nature, traveling, and eating her way around the world. She is excited to come alongside Josiah in supporting the youth and children at NECC!
Kelly grew up as a pastor’s kid, grateful to experience the love of God through her parents as well as her church family. She began to sense a call to ministry during her teenage years through leadership experiences in church as well as school. As a sophomore studying philosophy and Bible & Theology at Wheaton College, that call became clear. She went on to earn her M.Div at North Park Theological Seminary and served for 4.5 years as a lead pastor in northeast Nebraska. She is ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church and has also served churches in Tucson and Chicago. Kelly and her husband Greg have been married for 14 years and have three sons, 6 year old twins and a 4 year old. She loves to cook, read, create, and spend time outside – either exploring with her kids, working in the garden, or if she’s really lucky, on a backpacking trip with her husband. She is a cancer survivor thankful to God for every moment of life.