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.

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