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Al Stringham: Good and Faithful Servant
After decades of serving students and our tech team as a volunteer, Al Stringham is retiring this summer. True to his humble and unassuming character, Al declined to be interviewed […]
Jim Killam
June 30, 2021

After decades of serving students and our tech team as a volunteer, Al Stringham is retiring this summer.

True to his humble and unassuming character, Al declined to be interviewed for this article. But a whole lot of other people wanted to talk about him. Here are a few comments from current and former First Free youth and tech ministry leaders who served alongside Al.


When I was the junior high youth pastor at First Free, I was always recruiting adults to come and serve the Lord with me. The success of the ministry depended on finding adults who loved the Lord and loved junior highers, and that wasn’t always easy.

Al Stringham came on my radar as a potential youth leader when I was looking for parents to come as chaperones on events like field games and nature hikes. After I saw how well he did leading the students, I approached Al about joining our volunteer staff team permanently. He took some time to pray about it, and then said “Yes.”

As Al settled into working with youth, I wasn’t sure he’d be a good fit because he’s so quiet. But he proved himself again and again, committing to coming each Wednesday night for youth group, and to most of the weekend events. And as the Lord used him, the students fell in love with him.

Eventually I turned over the position of Games Leader to Al on Wednesday nights. And he excelled. We went to Kentucky on a mission trip to run a week-long camp at Twin Rocks Bible Camp. And every afternoon we’d have these field game competitions for the kids. Well, I turned those games over to Al and he ran with them, doing an amazing job … way better than I could’ve done. Of course, Al made us all a little nervous in Kentucky when he drove the van. He’s a left-foot-braker. *grin!

Al is one of my favorite guys on the planet. He is committed to his Lord, committed to his family and committed to ministry to youth. The First Free youth department is going to miss him big-time. Well done good and faithful servant, Al Stringham. God has been glorified through you!

Brian Erickson
Marriage Ministries Director
The Well Community Church
Fresno, California


Al is one of those leaders that every church needs. There are a handful of leaders I think of often, who have served with me in my 20-plus years in ministry, and Al Stringham is one of those leaders. He has made an impact on my ministry, in my life and in the lives of countless students. His faithfulness to ministry is incredible. What a great model for loving middle school students for Jesus.

One of my favorite Al memories is when a student said, at an open mic in front of dozens of people, “Brandon, I’m sorry, but you’re not my favorite leader.” The crowed laughed, then cringed, thinking I would be upset. Then he went on to say, “Al Stringham is my favorite leader.” And then he explained all the reasons he loved Al. As a young youth pastor, I knew it was men and women like Al who made ministry great. Sure, we all play a part, but that’s the point. No one person should do it all, and with a supporting cast of great leaders, God was doing great things. I’m thankful for Al Stringham.

Brandon Early
Director of Christian Life
Valley Church
West Des Moines, Iowa


I had the privilege to work with Al for the eight years I served in Student Ministries. Al is one of the most faithful and selfless people I have ever served with. He has been a consistent leader in the lives of many of our students here at First Free Rockford, and he led with such humility. We could ALWAYS count on Al to have a fun and engaging game planned for youth group each and every week. He will be missed!

Erin Blume
Director of Adult Ministries
First Free Rockford


A BIG thank you to “The Good Doctor” Al Stringham for your years of faithfulness of investing into the lives of the junior high and middle school students of First Free for decades. It has been such a privilege to serve alongside you for all of these years. You may never know the impact that you’ve had on countless young lives this side of eternity, but I know that one day you will see those former students and they’ll ask, “What game are we playing today, Al?”

Luke Uran
Lead Pastor
First Free Rockford


Thank you, Al, for your consistent and faithful ministry to students for so many years! Just as God has committed himself to us, you have committed your time, gifts and life to hundreds of kids. We all appreciate the joy and love you displayed. We need more Al Stringhams in this world!

Troy Solava
Teaching Elder
Chippewa Valley Bible Church
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin


Al is a dedicated servant for the kingdom! Al is someone who knew his passion — games! We had the students call him the “Game Master” as he always had a super-fun game prepared to be able to get the students engaged and interacting!

Al has a servant’s heart and his love for the students and the church family as a whole is truly inspiring! He will be missed dearly — but knowing Al, the Lord is not done with him yet!

Clayton Ganziano
Middle School Coordinator
First Free Rockford


Having been on staff for 10 years in the production and tech arts department, I was incredibly lucky to start with a few people who had been serving in that department for a long time and had incredible hearts. Al was one of them. Al has always had a willingness to serve and a good attitude to learn as we’ve updated equipment over the years. He has has been a joy to serve alongside, whether it be Sunday services or special events. Al is the sort of person serving in the ministry that as a ministry director you wish you had 20 of! We are beyond blessed as a church for the way Al has served in his role on the Tech Team as well as other ministry areas over the years. We are so excited for him and his well-deserved retirement!

David Peterson
Technical Arts Director
First Free Rockford

Jim Killam
Jim Killam is a journalist, author, teacher and terminal Cubs fan. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Rockford and work internationally with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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