When my husband and I began “church shopping” six years ago we were looking for a place where we could occasionally attend services on Sundays and where our future children could attend Sunday School. We had no idea that we would find a true spiritual home.
My husband was raised in a Lutheran church and we joined one together when we moved to the Chicago suburbs almost fourteen years ago. We were married there and continued to attend sporadically after we moved to the city. We never felt like part of that church, however. When we were ready to start a family we knew we needed something more.
The first time we attended Luther Memorial it was between pastors. This was a bit discouraging since our previous church couldn’t seem to keep the same person in the pulpit for very long. The congregation at Luther was so welcoming, though, that we kept going back. We alternated with a few different churches in the area trying to see where we fit in. We were in attendance for Pastor Tim’s first service and we liked him immediately. We had a pretty specific list of criteria while looking for churches. LMC met them all. A few months later we contacted Pastor Tim to ask about membership and baptism as our first daughter had been born that winter. We became members and had Emily baptized on Pentecost in 2010.
We attended semi-regularly, became minimally involved and forged close friendships with a few of the other members. We loved Luther Memorial and looked forward to being there. I kept looking for more ways to get involved, but wasn’t sure just what I should do. Last summer our second daughter was born twelve weeks early. Our world was turned upside down. Addison was a strong baby, though, even at three pounds. She made steady improvements but her ten week hospital stay took it’s toll on our whole family. It was a difficult summer. The response by the people of LMC was completely overwhelming. People brought us dinners, babysat, prayed, sent messages, made phone calls and stopped us after church to offer love and support. I’m not just talking about our friends, either. Some were people we’d never really talked to and some we hadn’t even met before. We were stunned. That’s when I realized we hadn’t just found a place to go to church. We had found a family. Addison was baptized in March surrounded by that family. That day meant so much to me.
I wanted more than ever to give something back to this place, to these people who had lifted us up during the most stressful and terrifying period of our lives. Any parent of small children will know that time and energy can be lacking, so finding something I thought I could handle wasn’t easy. When I was approached about a Council position I was afraid it might be too much. I decided to try it anyway and I’m so glad I did. In our first council meeting I could already tell that I was a part of something big…something important.
The growth we’ve seen since we joined this congregation has been incredible. There is a palpable energy here. I can’t wait to see what is next for Luther Memorial. We can do great things, I think, in this congregation, in this community and in this city. My family isn’t the only one that has found a home here. I see it every week. I talk about it with my friends. Who else can we wrap our arms around? Who else needs a family and doesn’t even know it? What other opportunities do we have here?
Let’s find out together.