I’ve grown to love the people of the congregations and communities for their enthusiasm for worship, ability to put on excellent community fellowship dinners, and welcoming attitudes towards newcomers. First Ogema (with the help of First Westboro) puts on the most wonderful Vacation Bible School the first week in August with about 100 students, teachers, and helpers in attendance. We have joint confirmation instruction with two other area ELCA Lutheran congregations. And, in an time where the average age of those attending congregations is getting older and older, both 1st Ogema and especially 1st Westboro have been getting younger over the past several years. As this happens, our enthusiasm just keeps growing. Our worship is liturgical, following a common Lutheran form with lots of participation by worshipers, but it’s not too formal. We project all our services on large screen monitors, so our services are “user-friendly,” but if you prefer using the hymnals, they are in the pews, and our weekly bulletins will help you navigate through the service and tell you what’s happening in the near future in and around our congregations. This past year we welcomed Linda Strader as a full time Student Intern Pastor. And we are in cooperative ministry conversations with 1st Lutheran Prentice and Zion Lutheran Brantwood with the hope our four congregations will be able to do more than just confirmation together so our ministry to our congregations and communities will just keep growing.
I’m a 1972 graduate of The University of Wisconsin – Madison (BS – Zoology. Go Badgers!) I’m a 1978 graduate of Christ Seminary – Seminex in St. Louis (Master of Divinity) and a 1989 graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling). During our seminary years, my wife Jo Ann and I worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks for four summers and internship getting to know God’s creation in Glacier, Grand Canyon, Mt. McKinley (Denali), and Everglades National Parks while leading worship for people of all denominations in lodges and campgrounds. While in seminary, I was one of the students who helped Dr. Ken Haugk develop the Stephen Ministries program of lay caring ministry. After a brief stint in the Central Valley of California working as a chaplain at Bear Creek Boys’ Ranch, a youth pastor at a United Methodist Church, and an interim pastor for a couple Lutheran congregations, we received a call to Trinity Lutheran – Rolling Meadows, Illinois, where we stayed 26 wonderful years before receiving our dream call to Ogema and Westboro.