Karen Burton Mains Bio

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For decades, Karen Mains, a prolific writer and gifted communicator, has offered her talents, as well as her joys and sorrows, to the building of God’s Kingdom.

Whether as an author, speaker, or radio and television producer and co-host, Karen has addressed the deep spiritual needs and longings that surface in our current society. Karen’s voice is substantive, often humorous, many times lyrical, but always practical.

Many of her creative works have been birthed out of personal experience. Her first best-selling book Open Heart, Open Home, is considered a classic and deals with the theology of Christian hospitality. It has sold over 600,000 copies and captured experiences out of 12 years serving in an inner city pastorate in a church founded by her husband, David R. Mains. The book challenges believers to use hospitality as a means of bringing redemption to a broken society.

In 1977, Mains’ communication gifts expanded when her husband became director of The Chapel of the Air Ministries. This nationally known outreach featured a syndicated radio broadcast, aired on almost 500 outlets each Monday through Saturday across the U.S. and Canada. Karen often served as co-host on the 15-minute program, lending her unique perspective to issues that impact the spiritual vitality of individual Christians and local churches. Her broadcast research generated the widely accepted book, Child Sexual Abuse: A Hope for Healing, co-authored with Maxine Hancock. The Mains’ media ministry continued with the daily half-hour national television show, You Need 2 Know, which won the 1995 Producer of the Year award from The National Religious Broadcasters.

In 1980, Karen traveled through the barrios and refugee camps in Central America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. As a result of these journeys, she wrote The Fragile Curtain, which won the 1982 Christopher Award given to writers, producers, and directors whose works affirm the highest values of the human spirit and are representative of the best achievements in their fields.

Mains’ three books for children, The Kingdom Tales Trilogy, was awarded the Gold Medallion by the Evangelical Press Association. These stories are frequently used by pastors as sermon material, have been endlessly adapted in dramatic form for churches and Christian schools, and have been regularly employed for the purposes of deep therapy by Christian counselors.

Karen Mains served on the Board of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for eight years and was elected its first woman chairperson. She is the co-founder of the Chrysosostom Society, a group of well-known Christian writers committed to excellence in their work. A past member of the Author’s Guild of New York, she works to reconcile, through a variety of means (one of which is the establishment of Artists’ Communities in local churches), the artist to Christianity. As part of her personal interest, Karen now offers informal Wannabee Writers mentoring discussions.

Karen Mains now serves as co-director of Mainstay Ministries where she is responsible for Hungry Souls, a spiritual mentoring outreach that seeks to help people whose appetite for God is greater than what their present environment is meeting. An annual 24-hour Advent Retreat of Silence, 3-day Retreats of Silence to people in the Chicagoland area. She delights in leading hungry souls in growth groups where group spiritual direction is offered. In addition, she has developed Journeys for Hungry Souls, a travel ministry that seeks to introduce pilgrims to the disciplines of pilgrimage.

The lastest growth edge in the Hungry Souls outreach has been to experiment with the powerful healing potential of listening groups. Over the past three years, Karen has overseen, observed, or participated in over 240 small listening groups. She is now beginning a research project that will assess the profound impact of these small group experiences.

Always passionate about the underprivileged and under-resourced, this year Karen and similarly passionate colleagues have launched The Global Bag Project, a way to connect eco-shopping to micro-credit enterprises. The first cooperative bag-making project is now being formed in Nairobi, Kenya. Karen will be traveling to Kenya in March 2009 with a group of 14 women. They will be meeting with Kenyan women to link their distant worlds in pragmatic ways.

Although she has authored over 27 books in the religious fields (her most recent is Going on a God Hunt with IVPress), Karen feels called to write about spiritual meaning into the secular culture, and is now spending much of her time discovering markets that are open to her work.

The Mains have been married for 47 years and live in the western suburbs of Chicago. As the parents of four adult offspring, Karen and David are highly committed to creating healthy families and are eagerly sharing their invaluable spiritual journeys with the next generation, their own 7 grandchildren.