Most people don’t know who Charles Edward Crumrine Jr. is, but everyone in Ligonier knows who Kip is. Through his belief in serving others in the name of Jesus, he has touched the lives of many of the inhabitants of the town of Ligonier, PA, and not just the youth who attend weekly meetings. Hardly anyone knows his given name. Still, Kip is something of a celebrity both in his hometown and beyond.
Kip says his physical characteristics are fairly nondescript. One blogger describes him as “that cool older brother that you always wanted.” His wife says it was his hiking boots and socks that first attracted her to him, because she could tell that meant he was “adventurous and practical.”
But the reason everyone in town recognizes Kip is his commitment to full-time ministry. Kip has been executive director of Valley Youth Network, an interdenominational youth ministry, since its inception in 1994. At that time, none of the area churches had a thriving youth group of their own. Instead, as is their nature, teens wanted to hang out together, not just with those within their own church. Now they can: VYN commonly has between 80 and 160 teens in attendance at its weekly Thursday night meetings called C.H.I.L. (Christ Happening in Lives). VYN is housed on the first floor of an old barn, and the main room is filled with over a dozen couches. There’s a bar filled with taps of water, with vintage stained glass lights overhead. It provides a comfortable area for teens to relax in the evenings, and a trusting atmosphere for Kip and his wife, Sandy, to build relationships. In a poll of the area high school, over half of the students have been to at least one VYN activity and one-fourth attend at least once a month.
VYN’s primary mission is to serve. Sandy, 53, is the ministry’s assistant director. “He’s been intentional about being part of the community of Ligonier,” she recalls. Volunteer work includes Habitat for Humanity and the Juvenile and Youth Council, where teens who have gotten in trouble are required to spend time with Kip. VYN teens take an annual mission trip to serve people in need, usually through building a home or other structure. To qualify for the trip, they must complete a minimum number of service hours in their own hometown. Kip leads many of these smaller service projects.
Sandy recalls one such project. An elderly woman was continuously fined due to a disheveled barn on her property, but she was unable to repair it herself and had no one to help her. A local police officer called Kip. He knew he directed service projects and could bring a group of teens to disassemble the structure.
As a result, Cody Crumrine, Kip and Sandy’s son, 26, also remembers how his dad was the man everyone thought of when they needed something. On more than one occasion, Kip would receive a phone call late at night from a widow who heard strange noises from her hot water heater. Cody says his response was always, “Yes, I’ll be there in a minute,” no matter what time it was. Sandy loves that “people call on him because they know he’s that kind of guy.”
Considering he also coaches little league, soccer, and is a seasonal ski patroller, most people have few degrees of separation between them and Kip. He also spent 10 years as a camp director for the Christian sports camp called Summer’s Best 2 Weeks. Through all of this, he has had a tremendous influence on the youth of Ligonier and beyond. A Google search of his name includes two testimonies naming Kip as a major influence. One recounts rafting trips with him that ended with a campfire, where Kip would “tell of adventures, his love of his wife, and reflect on all the mighty things God had done that day.” Cody says his dad starts every rafting trip by having the explorers join hands and praise God for what he’s created.
Growing up, Kip was the oldest of three, raised in the city of Cincinnati by two ministry-loving parents themselves, Chuck and Betsy Crumrine. Kip recounts fond memories of his parents creating interactive games with them and the Sunday School classes they taught. One such game included a “time machine,” where participants enter one side of a cardboard box dressed in present-day attire and emerge at the other end, dressed from another era. He remembers his parents reappearing as an Indian chief and squaw: “I Chief Crummy. This Crummy Squaw.”
Chuck and Betsy attended two Bible studies each week. Kip remembers one in particular called “The Strugglers.” Several couples continue to meet together 50 years later. Kip remembers Robert Charles “R. C.” Sproul, author, theologian, and pastor, was part of this group. Chuck and R. C. were also weekly golf buddies, so the Crumrines were there when the Sprouls were first called to establish Ligonier Ministries. Cody says you can mention either his father’s or grandfather’s name to R. C. as you leave his church, and he lights up at the mention of an old friend.
Kip credits this upbringing as first fostering his love of the Lord, but he also cites the influence of a magician. He recounted when he first gave his life for Christ. It was at a Christian magic show. The performer ended his show with the gospel message, telling the youth in the audience that what Jesus did was no illusion, and that he really died for them because he loves them and wants a personal relationship with them. Kip said it was at that moment that Christ became real to him and he gave him his life.
When he’s not working, Kip takes joy in his wife and family. He credits his wife as the largest contributing factor to the growth of his faith. They have been blessed with three grown sons, and they make a point to stay close even though two of them have moved away. Kip says he is most at peace when he’s on the lake on their annual family vacation. All five members of the family take a week at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.
But Kip clearly has many joys besides. Whether it’s enjoying an outdoors adventure, playing board games at CHIL, or relaxing in his home in the evenings, Kip has many things that bring him joy. It’s only fitting for a man who has been a spiritual leader, mentor, coach, and even ski patrol rescuer to many.