Hometown Hero: Katie Middleton

Katie Middleton was raised in church in a small town in South Carolina, but her transformative journey to real faith in Christ happened many years later. She says, “I grew up in my granddad’s church. My parents were very involved in various aspects of the church congregation. So if I was in the kids ministry, so were they. If I was in the youth ministry, so were they. I had that example going into adulthood. But I did it because the south is a little more social when it comes to church, but I myself did not have a strong foundation. I grew up serving in church. I sang for the first time in front of church at age four. We needed a bass player in the worship band, so I learned how to play the bass at age 14. When I say play the bass, I’m not a musical genius. The bass is an easy instrument to pick up but not easy to master. But I played it, so we had a bass. I moved on after that. I started leading after the worship leader left. So I definitely grew up learning to jump into roles as they were needed, but I didn’t build that foundation (in Christ).”

Katie’s life took a different turn in her late teen years. She tells the story: “My parents got divorced when I was 17. When that happened, I rebelled from the church and from Christianity. I never believed that God didn’t exist. I was just very angry at God because the world I knew was no longer, and I almost felt that all of this I had been doing, what was it for? I had the wrong perspective. I was pretty wayward, a slow decline, until I was around 23. I didn’t go straight into college. I felt lost in general, so I worked for a year, went to school for a semester and didn’t do well because I had no drive. I moved to Columbia, South Carolina to go to the University of South Carolina. I had made some bad choices to the point where I didn’t like myself.”

She continues, “Because I grew up in church and had the Holy Spirit, I knew deep down the way I was living wasn’t right. The conviction was so heavy by that point that I had a face to the floor come to Jesus moment where I told Him I was sorry, I’m a sinner, please come back. Not that I condone my choices, but it took me going down that path to understand why I needed Christ. Growing up in church I thought I was a good kid. I didn’t make bad decisions, I followed the rules, I did what I was told to do. I volunteered and served, so in my mind I thought ‘I’m a good Christian and God would be proud of me.’ It took the choices that I made and how depraved that I could actually get that I realized there is no amount of goodness in me. That was my lightbulb moment. I understood why I needed Christ.”

Her life took a major turn after that moment. She says, “The gratitude that God cares enough about me was so powerful. I know the places I had gone and the things that I had done. The fact that He still loved me and sought after me was life changing. And from that moment on I was locked in. I met my husband, Matt, shortly after I came back to Christ. He played guitar and I sing, so that was the beginning of me finding my place in serving the church.” Currently her husband is the worship leader at their church, which is located in an old mill. In addition to leading the children’s ministry for her church, she is the venue coordinator and serves in the worship band, singing and playing percussion. She also leads worship at Arrows Academy, a homeschool hybrid school in Columbia, South Carolina.

One of Katie’s passions is passing along what she knows to the next generation. She comments, “One thing I have started this year is mentoring students who want to lead worship. So if they have a heart but not the experience, it doesn’t matter. I can walk them through that and help them. It’s one thing to sing in your car. It’s another thing to sing in front of people. And it’s a completely different thing to lead people.”

She continues, “We had a great mentor when we were first learning to lead worship in a church setting. We had played music for years but we would do a lot of songs we liked. But we had a worship leader at our church who took a lot of time with us and taught us that you always want to be replaceable, which for many people when they have a talent in something, that’s not the first thing that pops into your mind. You want to be the best at what you’re good at. The idea is that you want to get better, which you should. But along side that you should always be replaceable. Because we do need to raise up people in our place, whether it’s a musician and music leader or any other role in society. So teaching other people the skills, talents and experience is crucial in order to further the next generation. Otherwise it’s lost. It’s very much like discipleship. People can lose sight that we have those opportunities. They are at our doorstep every day, whether it be with your own children or those you work alongside. We are constantly learning from life, and passing on that experience is a very important aspect of growing as a person.”

Katie and her husband currently mentor several teenage band members from their church. She says “three of our high schoolers, two are now in college and one is a junior in high school recently led the church by themselves in worship. It was such a sweet moment because we watched them grow in skill and in confidence. For the three of them to have enough confidence to lead 120 people on their own was a proud mama moment, even though I’m not their blood mama! My focus in whatever I do is to make our community more glorious, loving and beautiful because Christ did that for me.”

Katie and Matt live in West Columbia, South Carolina with children Stella and Amos. Katie calls herself “an old soul” who spent much time growing up accompanying her grandmother to flea markets and auctions. Her favorite time period is the 60s and 70s in music, style and clothing. In her spare time, she loves thrifting, creating outfits and home décor from items others have given away. She also is involved in a clothing swap through her church to give back to the community.