Below is a letter from Pastor Erik dated July 19, 2017 upon the occasion of his acceptance of a new call.
Dear St. Luke’s,
I am writing today to share with you the news that I have accepted a new call to serve as Pastor to the Community and Director of Worship at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) beginning this fall.
This is a call that came and found me, not one for which I went looking. It has been my great honor these last eleven years to serve as the pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square and I could have been quite happy to continue serving among you. At the same time, this new position at the seminary allows me to take all that I have learned over the past decade about congregational redevelopment, urban and ecumenical ministry, leadership development, community organizing, the power of true stories to revitalize worship, and to share those learnings with a new generation of leaders for the church.
When you called me to be your pastor eleven years ago there were only a handful of you and the odds were stacked against us. These many years later St. Luke’s is strong and continues to grow in remarkable ways. Last fall we added a second Sunday morning worship service. This past spring we had the highest attendance in worship we’ve seen in a decade. Our household giving is up by 20%. The number of small groups meeting on a regular basis has doubled. We are welcoming new members and engaging long-time members with new opportunities to take their faith out into the public square for the sake of our neighbors.
All of this points to the character of our community, the feeling people get when they come to visit us for the first time. In our worship we strive for honesty, vulnerability, and inclusion of the wide range of gifts bestowed on us by God our creator. You hear it in the music we make, in the testimonies we share, in the prayers we offer, in the hands we lay upon one another for healing and blessing, in our proclamation of God’s life-giving and liberating gospel.
Beyond that first encounter though, the reason people stay at St. Luke’s is you. I know this is true because you are the reason I have stayed at St. Luke’s for this long.
Dear friends, I could not be more proud of who we have become together and I could not be more grateful for the chance to become more fully myself in your company. You offered me a chance to live into the calling I first sensed as a child. Borrowing your authority from the future, you invited me to be your pastor long before the wider church was ready to recognize that call. Over the years the strength of your convictions and your power to act on them has only grown. I have full faith that you will continue to lead this church into futures we are still only beginning to imagine.
My term as your pastor is now coming to an end. Each of us will journey on, carrying the other in our hearts, sharing the ministry that is our common inheritance by virtue of our baptism. You are a community of gifted and capable people, and you will undoubtedly find a new pastor who will pose new questions to you and call new gifts out of you. I will be praying for your continued ministry and ask for your prayers as I begin this new call as well.
My final day at St. Luke’s will be Sunday, September 10th. In the coming weeks there will be opportunities to celebrate our time together, to bless one another with stories and memories, and to say our goodbyes. You can rely on the Council to share additional details about this transition as they become available. Meanwhile, Kerry and I will cherish these final opportunities to worship together before summer draws to a close.
With deepest gratitude,