Meet the Creeks
Dave Creek, associate pastor candidate, and his wife Laurie have a long family history with First Free Rockford, and Dave is no stranger to ministry here, either.
Jim Killam
August 16, 2023

Pastor Dave Creek, candidate for Associate Pastor of Family Ministries, has been interviewed and recommended unanimously by both our Executive Elder and Shepherding Elder boards. Next steps in this process are:

  • A Q&A hour with the congregation at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 at church. If you have questions for Dave, this is the time to ask.
  • Dave will preach at both morning services on Sunday, Aug. 27.
  • At our Meeting of the Members that evening at 6 p.m., the congregation will vote whether to affirm Dave. A 75-percent “yes” vote is required to affirm.

In the meantime, we hope this two-part article will help get you acquainted, or reacquainted, with Dave and his family. We’ll publish part two next week.


Wife: Laurie, married since 2004.

Kids: Four boys, ages 12, 9, 7 and 7 (twins).

Dave’s parents: Donna and Sam Creek.

Laurie’s parents: Jane and the late Richard Brass.

Dave grew up on Paris Avenue in Rockford, then went to Judson University in Elgin and later Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. After working with Reign Ministries (2002-5), he spent 14 years (2005-19) as Student Ministries Pastor at a church in Minnesota. Since 2013, he has also been a licensed marriage and family therapist. When he and his family moved back to Rockford in 2019, he established Creek Counseling, LLC.

Laurie is a pediatric nurse at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis (more about that momentarily).

First Free connections

Dave’s great-great grandfather on his mother’s side, Levin A. Westman, was a charter member of the Swedish Free Church of Rockford, now known as First Free Rockford. A furniture maker by trade, he came to Rockford from Sweden in 1877.

Dave grew up around First Free’s current campus, from the nursery to children’s ministry to Treehouse (pre-Awana).

“I remember from a young age sitting in those gold seats, putting my head on my mother’s lap and taking a nap during the service,” he laughs.

He was a leader in student ministries and, during his senior year of high school, then-Children’s Pastor Jim Rosene asked him to consider working with kids and doing Summerama day camp.

“And that was the beginning of ministry for me,” Dave says. (In fact, two years ago as his family participated in a Kids Around the World food-packing event, he brought his boys over to meet Jim. “Guys,” he told them, “this is the guy who first taught me how to tell people about Jesus.”)

During his college years, Dave served as a custodian at First Free. He also kept working side-by-side with Jim with Summerama—including as the puppeteer for “Sven,” who would carry on stage conversations with Jim. They even took that show on the road a few times, to some camps and even adult ministries.

Jim and I had a very good, playful kind of relationship,” Dave says. “He would call me antagonistic, which was fair.”

This becomes central to the next story. Dave knew that Jim didn’t like when people ate their smelly lunches in his office. During Summerama training, a few of the younger leaders went to lunch at Fazoli’s—where you could get unlimited buttery, garlic breadsticks. Dave collected a big extra helping for the road.

“When I got back to church, I went into Jim’s office and put them above the ceiling tiles. And then the next morning when we all got there, he called the entire staff together. He was not happy about how his office smelled like garlic.”

No one said anything. But after the meeting, Dave walked back to Jim’s office with him, pushed up the ceiling tile and retrieved the offending breadsticks.

Jim looked shocked. “You of all people!” 

“So that’s one of many fond memories,” Dave says. “I don’t know if he would call it fond. But First Free is just filled with all kinds of memories for me.”

Marriage and family

Something else good happened during those college years. In 1997, Dave had a role in the Wonders of Christmas program here at church. So did Janine Brass, and over many rehearsals, the two became friends.

“She invited my brother and me and some friends to come hang out at her house,” Dave says. “Her younger sister, Laurie, who was still in high school, and her friends would go to Big Sister’s house and hang out. Because why would you stay at home when you can go to your big sister’s house?”

For the next several years, Janine’s house remained the hangout spot for that group. Despite their five-year age difference, Dave and Laurie were fast friends. He smiles when describing that season.

“I noticed her and started having feelings for her, but I always emphasize this: We did not start dating until she was in college. We have friends who like to joke about that.”

They married in 2004. Today they’re parenting four boys, including identical, 7-year-old twins. They’re living with Laurie’s mother, Jane, while their home is being built. The household is … um, active.

“I affectionately call it chaotic energy,” Dave says.

Long commute

Laurie has been a pediatric nurse at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis for the entire 19 years of their marriage—starting when Dave worked with Reign Ministries, later as Student Ministries Pastor at a church in Minnetonka, and then as a marriage and family therapist. When they moved back to Illinois in 2019, with Dave starting a new counseling practice here from scratch, they decided Laurie would keep her job for some financial stability.

“For us it was a transitional idea,” Dave says. “She would keep her job because of her seniority and benefits, while we transitioned down to Illinois. Unbeknownst to us, she would still be doing that today. Thankfully, because of her seniority and a very willing and supportive management, she is able to be home more.” 

Laurie travels to Minnesota every three weeks for a few days of work, but then gets at least two weeks off between those trips. They still hope the arrangement is temporary. COVID rearranged those plans a little as Dave started his practice here. But they’re making it work.

“It’s always been that way for us, even when we lived in Minnesota,” Dave says. “When it was her weekend to work, it was me with the kid—or the kids as we gained more. So it was just navigating schedules. Thankfully, my schedule has always been flexible enough that we could do a lot of it without having to pay for a lot of child care. Now that we’re down here and she’s traveling, having both of our families nearby makes it quite a bit easier.”

Next week: How Dave’s candidacy for the Associate Pastor position came about, and how he approaches ministry.

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.


  1. Avatar

    It was good to be reminded of some things I’d forgotten over the years, as well as to learn some interesting new tidbits. I trust you’ll get voted in.

  2. Avatar

    I have not seen Dave in 20 years, but I am overwhelmed with joy to know that Christ has called my brother; first to salvation and then into His service. I am thankful to God for the fruit of ministry over many years at First Free, and to learn of fruit in Dave’s life. I am praying for discernment of everyone involved. And above all, I am praying that Christ would be greatly glorified through the outcome at First Free and beyond.


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