Council Introductions: Meet Ben Dieterich!

1538839_10152767624597150_2275813049800351908_nI think like so many at Luther Memorial, I struggled for a very long time to find a church home. Growing up church was always a big part of my family’s life, from attending service every Sunday, to regular attendance and participation in just about every activity the church had, to (seemingly) endless hours of religious teaching. But as I grew older I grew less and less comfortable with my church. I found the answers I was given to my deepest questions at best unfulfilling, and at worst, knew in my heart that these answers couldn’t be right.

Further, I found my church to be very inward focused, looking to help members in need, sure, but with very little apparent activity looking outward to the greater community. By the time I reached my junior year in college I realized that I would never have the kind of blind faith that it seemed my church valued, and chose to take a break from church.

But cutting church out wasn’t fulfilling either. I would occasionally make an effort to reconnect, but every time I decided to give a new church a try, I would sit through one or two sermons and leave disappointed. This was how I spent my 20s.

As I entered my 30s I was at a new point in my life. My wife, Amanda, and I started looking for a church we could connect with. Many of the places we tried were disappointing, but helped figure out exactly what we were looking for. We need a church that at the bare minimum met two criteria. First, it had to be a place that respected diversity, not only in culture and lifestyle, but also that diversity must extend to religious beliefs. We needed a church that respected our questions, and one that didn’t demand that we conform to a specific set of answers.

Second, we needed a church with an outward focus; that spent as much or more time building a healthy greater community as it was focused on a healthy spiritual community. We needed a church trying to do good in the world, and not just waiting for the next.

Thanks to my cousin and her husband, we found Luther Memorial and Pastor Tim. In this church and this pastor, we found what was missing in so many of the places we tried before. We found a community that welcomed our diversity and we found a pastor that didn’t try to answer our questions but helped frame ways to think about them. And we found a church active in the world around it, making the world a better place to be for the broader community. We found a church that exemplified the values we want to impress on our sons, Lawrence and Odin.

I am, with the consent of the congregation, about to enter my third year as treasurer at Luther Memorial, and I am so happy to be a part of the exciting growth and change taking place here. I love that Council is discussing the big ideas about what our church community needs, and how we can get there. And I look forward to continuing to engage with the congregation as we go through this transition.


Council Introductions: Dave Byerly

Dave Byerly picDavid John-Frederick Byerly…I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on January 24th, 1974 to Kenneth and DeAnne Byerly.  I have two older brothers, Doug & Kent, one older sister, Karen, and six nieces & nephews.
Something you may not know about me, besides that I am your Council president — I’m about to become a great uncle.  At the ripe age of 40.  Ouch.
The beautiful Sara Aksamit Byerly has been by my side for nearly 14 years, married 11 of those years.  I’m lucky.
We are blessed with two children; Jacob, six, and Nathan, three.
If we’ve not met, stop me, say hello.  I’d like to talk with you.  And I’m always available for chat over a coffee or beer.

Preschool Questions: Answered (Part Two)

2414277632_9d4cec0315_bIn Preschool Questions: Answered (Part One) we addressed some concerns that came up during the cottage meetings regarding the proposed Luther/Pilgrim early childhood center. We also mentioned an action plan for moving forward in 2015. Here, we will outline that action plan and the timeline that we are proposing as the next steps in this process.


The Pilgrim/Luther Joint Task Force will mobilize someone from the city to do a feasibility study on LMC as a possible hosting site for a preschool, noting all necessary upgrades.

Pilgrim (with help from LMC) will apply for a Joshua Grant at Wheatridge.

The Joint Task Force will analyze the city recommendations and decide whether or not this is still possible. If yes, the conversation goes to a vote for continuance at the LMC congregational meeting on January 25th. If no, the conversation is suspended.


The Joint Task Force will hammer out a formal list of shared and separate responsibilities, including how things will be paid for.  If this can be worked out, the conversation continues.  If not, the conversation is suspended.

APRIL 2015

The Joint Task Force will craft a covenant for ministry, to be approved by both councils and the Pilgrim school board.  If this can be worked out, conversation goes to a final vote.  If not, the conversation is suspended.


The covenant is presented for a vote at Pilgrim’s Annual Meeting.  If approved, LMC calls a special congregational meeting to vote on the covenant. If both congregations approve it, the formal agreement is adopted and work toward a September 2016 opening officially continues.

JULY 2015

LMC will apply for Synod grant (15k-20k) to be used toward this endeavor.

We would like to see this project work. We learned in the cottage meetings that most of you do, too. We can see the benefits. That’s the easy part. Now comes the part where we work through all of the concerns and the questions and see if this is a viable project. It won’t be beneficial to anyone for us to force it if it’s just not going to work. We believe this action plan and timeline will help us work through the more difficult areas and let us know if this is not the time to move forward after all.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome. Contact Pastor Tim ( or Angie Cooper (

Council Introductions: Meet Linda Khoury!

Lutheranism is in my blood.  My grandfather was a Lutheran pastor and I grew up going to a small Lutheran churcimage in the southwest suburbs.  I loved going to church when I was a kid.  I loved following along with the divine service.  I loved singing hymns and going to Sunday school.

That little Lutheran church gave me a solid foundation but as I grew into young adulthood, I realized I was searching for something more, something deeper. Through college and after moving into the city, I attended a non-denominational, evangelical church.  There I found people who hungered for God and strived to incorporate faith into all aspects of their life.  While I enjoyed my time there and grew in my faith, something was missing. At the time I wasn’t sure what that was or where to look.

A few years later I moved to Lincoln Square and found what I was looking for and it happened to be across the street from my new apartment.  Home.  I walked into Luther Memorial and I felt like I had finally come home.  I found the Lutheranism that is so much a part of me.  I found a community that welcomed me (all of me) with open arms and immediately took me in and made me one of their own.  I have so enjoyed being part of this community and serving with such a diverse group of people; people of all ages, walks of life and faith backgrounds.  I feel so blessed to continue to grow in my faith at Luther Memorial.

Preschool Questions: Answered (Part One)

imagesOne of the growth opportunities we talked about in the recent cottage meetings was the possibility of a Luther/Pilgrim early childhood center housed at LMC. Several strengths came out of those meetings. A preschool here would benefit our congregation and meet a need in our community. It would mean increased community outreach, involvement and service. It could become something that draws people to our community and congregation. There were also a handful of concerns that came up at almost every meeting. These concerns could be seen as possible barriers to a hosting a preschool and raise questions regarding its viability. We would like to address those concerns here in the hopes that we can answer your questions and clarify a few points as we head into 2015.

Please note: nothing below is finalized. Everything is in the conceptual phase.

COST (staffing, upgrades, maintenance, insurance, etc.)

Pilgrim will cover some

  • Professional staff (teachers and aides)
  • Necessary equipment and supplies for the room

LMC will cover some

  • Necessary building upgrades
    • New flooring
    • Short toilets
    • Outdoor play space
    • Door access (keypad entry or doorperson)
  • Custodial staff
  • Office staff

We are looking into insurance costs.

It is expected that we would net zero at the end of the year. This would not be a         moneymaking venture. We do, however, think that the sum of benefit to our community, to our ministry outreach and to being a place where Christ is seen through our service will be incalculable.

LEGAL (permits, permissions, regulations, zoning, liability)

There are two members of Pilgrim’s team with experience in starting preschools in Chicago. They don’t foresee any problems in this area. According to them we need to have a specific plan for the relationship between our churches and for the building upgrades before we take it to the city. We are still working on determining if we even want to do this. One of the first physical steps in 2015 is finding out what specifically the city would desire/require for a preschool to be held here. Before that we must take the missional step of identifying the nature of this relationship.

SPACE (facilities, playground, infrastructure, what happens to things that are in this space now?)

All of the upgrades necessary to hosting an early childhood center would also benefit our own children. The preschool room would be used as the nursery during normal nursery hours. The basement of LMC is currently empty on weekdays. The only thing that would be displaced would be the Wednesday morning playgroup. We are looking into alternatives for this group.

RELATIONSHIP (How will the arrangement with Pilgrim work? How do we deal with potential conflicts?)

We are working on getting everything in writing. We have discussed a covenant that would be reviewed and approved by both councils and ultimately voted on by both congregations. Even though this is a relationship between two churches with similar missions, it is also a business relationship. We have discussed some sort of trial period with an evaluation at the end. We have also discussed having a standing steering team made up of members from both c, which would tend to the relationship between our churches. LMC would also likely have a rep on the Pilgrim school board.

MISSION & VISION (Is this where LMC is headed?)

This is an excellent question. We will be working on our mission and vision in the New Year. If, at some point, it is determined that an early childhood center does not align with our new mission and vision, our “Should we do this?” question has an answer. There is a concern that this will overtake our other efforts at LMC. It is not meant to redefine our church, but to be one of the many things we do to benefit our members and our community. LMC will never be a “school with a church.” If we host an early childhood center here, it will be because we feel God is calling us to provide this for the city.

COST/BENEFIT (Is this going to be worth all the money, effort, etc.?)

As mentioned above, we don’t anticipate making money on this effort. We do, however, feel that the intangibles would be well worth the cost, both financial and otherwise.

During the last couple of meetings of the joint task force we have decided to slow down the original proposed timeline and delay a vote on the project until we can get a clearer picture and better answer some of these questions. At the January congregational meeting we will be voting instead on an action plan. We will go into more detail on this plan and its steps in Part Two. We would begin with Step One at the beginning of the year and we wouldn’t move forward from one step to the next until we were satisfied that we were still on target. We have a lot of information to gather and details to be worked out. What we’re looking for now and what we’ll be looking for at the meeting is your blessing to continue looking into this project and working through those details. Nothing is decided. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing will go forward without a majority vote from the congregation. This is not a relationship or a project that we take lightly. We want all our ducks in a row before moving forward. There just happen to be a lot of ducks.

Please continue to pray about this possible ministry area!

Contact Pastor Tim ( or Angie Cooper ( with any questions.