New performing arts fund intended to carry on legacy of WC music department founder Randy Kettering

By Paul Batterson, Contributing Writer

Growing up in Massillon, Ohio, Randy Kettering dreamed of earning a football scholarship for college and perhaps even making it to the NFL. His career plans changed dramatically, however,  when he saw classical guitarist Andres Segovia perform at the Blossom Music Center.

“At the time I saw him, he could barely walk, but once he got on stage, he mesmerized the crowd,” said Kettering, who recently moved to Colorado to be closer to his oldest daughter Jenifer (WC ’00), her husband Joshua Eldridge and grandchild Zia. “If you look at a professional, you’re considered old in the late twenties … unless you’re Tom Brady. Your career span in the NFL is just a few years…After that concert, I saw music as something I could do until the day they shovel me into the ground. As long as you have the strength to hold your instrument, sing out a note, shoot a film or write a screenplay, you can be effective.”

When he was 15 years old, Kettering met Pastor James Custer, who helped take the lead on the formation of Grace Brethren Church in Columbus and Worthington Christian High School. Seven years later, when Custer was laying the groundwork for Worthington Christian, he began recruiting Randy and Jane Kettering to work with him at the school and church.

“He invited us down to Columbus and he sold us on the chance to be the music director for both the church and the school,” Kettering said. “What I didn’t know then is that we would never leave.”

In his ten years of working in the school, Randy Kettering oversaw the development of the school’s music program. He helped start the high school and middle school’s band and choir. He offered 75 private music lessons a week for free in order to drum up interest in the new programs.

After working with the school and church for a decade, Kettering focused on leading the church’s music program and turned over the reins of the school’s music program. In total, Kettering served as musical director at Worthington Christian for a decade and as Grace Brethren Church’s musical director for a total of 44 years.

Since the beginning days of Kettering’s foundational work in building WC’s music program, the school has been home to a handful of students who have gone on to make contributions to the arts, including: Tyler Joseph (singer for Twenty-One Pilots, WC ’08), stage actresses Melody Pomeroy (who was part of the national tour of Oklahoma, WC ’01) and Jordan Ensign (national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, WC ’08), filmmaker Mike Edwards (who has won eight Emmys, WC ’91), and Maggie Grace Denig (attended WC from kindergarten to ninth grade and went on to star in the television show Lost and the Taken movies).

Kettering’s own daughter, Jesi Jones (WC ’03), is a flourishing artist. She is currently a singer with the trio Trala with Julie Melucci and Moriah Peters (who is married to For King & Country vocalist Joel Smallbone), and her husband Timmy Jones is a drummer for Chris Tomlin.

Mr. Kettering explains, “I’ve always felt if we invested (more) into the arts programs at Worthington Christian, how many more great artists could we turn out? How many more kids could we put into the entertainment world? How many more kids could be writing screenplays in Hollywood? All because some little Christian school in the middle of the Midwest made arts a high priority.”

WC has established a special fund to do that very thing: inspire the next generation of entertainment industry influencers who bring honor and praise to the name of Jesus Christ. The Randy Kettering Family Performing Arts Fund will serve as an investment in others who use the performing arts to bring glory to God. Kettering hopes the fund will encourage students to find their passion in the arts, just like Andreas Segovia helped spark his interest.

This fund will provide:

  • Financial assistance to help students with instrument rentals, school-sponsored performing art trips, and other expenses;
  • Equipment or other resources identified by the performing arts directors which enhance the performing arts program and are over-and-above Worthington Christian’s operating budget;
  • Partial scholarships for two students who are active participants in the performing arts program, who demonstrate compassionate leadership and use performing arts to glorify God; and who have financial need.

The school announced the creation of the fund at a retirement send-off for Kettering and his wife Jane, who served as the school’s French teacher for 34 years. The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, hopes that others will also contribute to the fund.

“Randy has been faithful in his visionary, compassionate leadership,” the benefactor wrote. “While music and communications have been his focus, his legacy includes that of a teacher, mentor, counselor, gifted artist, supporter, encourager, risk-taker, talent-recognizer, and friend.”

If you would like to invest in young people pursuing the glory of God through the performing arts at WC, follow the link below:

Make a Gift to the Randy Kettering Family Performing Arts Fund