C.R. Kersten, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
C.R. Kersten has dedicated the majority of his adult life to leading Teen Challenge of St. Louis. He joined the staff fresh out of college as a counselor on May 22, 1978, when the center was located at its original St. Louis location on Washington Avenue. In January 1982, C.R. was named Executive Director, making him responsible for the overall operations of Teen Challenge and the main liaison to the organization’s Board of Directors.
During C.R.’s tenure, Teen Challenge relocated from downtown St. Louis (1981) to its present 12-acre campus in High Ridge, Missouri. This modern facility is able to house 24 adult male students and up to 10 “re-entry” students – those students assimilating back into the community from the Teen Challenge program. In 1984 a multi-purpose building was built which served as the office, staff housing, classroom and kitchen. The dormitory was built in 1999. Since both labor and funding were donated, no debt was incurred on this building that was estimated to have cost $350,000 to construct. Twelve years later in June 2011, a women’s center, Diane’s House, opened in South City on Pulaski Street.
During his thirty-seven years with Teen Challenge of St. Louis, C.R. has seen thousands presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ and hundreds delivered from the bondage of sin. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed” is a Bible verse that C.R. considers most relevant to his mission in serving the men of Teen Challenge as a certified instructor of the Teen Challenge curriculum.
In addition to his work at Teen Challenge, C.R. also plays an active role in the community as a member of the High Ridge Rotary Club — having served as President from 2003-2004 and now as a member of the Paul Harris Fellowship As an ordained minister, C.R. was a founding member and spiritual leader of Tres Dias of St. Louis, a Christian retreat program designed to make men and women stronger spiritual leaders in all walks of life through the discovery of God’s unconditional love.
C.R. and his wife, Paula, serve in prison ministries at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, Missouri and the Kairos ministry at Potosi Correctional Center in Potosi, Missouri. They are active members in Faith Community Church in House Springs, Missouri, where C.R. taught a new converts class for over 25 years.
Prior to joining Teen Challenge of St. Louis, C.R. worked as a plumber and in positions in retail and construction labor. While working for Teen Challenge, C.R. has also owned three businesses: a cattle ranch from 1987-1992; a property management and real estate company from 1989-1992 and a multi-million dollar home improvement company from 1994-1998.
C.R. is a native of West Dundee, Illinois and a 1978 graduate of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He has been an ordained minister with the Assembly of God church since 1983. C.R. and his wife are home missionaries through the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions board.
C.R. and Paula reside on the Teen Challenge property in High Ridge, Missouri. They have three grown children: Rob (32), a 2007 graduate of Evangel University who has been working at St. Louis Teen Challenge since his graduation; Alicia (29), a 2009 graduate of Missouri Baptist University who recently received her Masters Degree and works at Diane’s House; Ryan (27), a 2011 graduate of Evangel University who is serving as a youth pastor in Olney, Illinois.