Editor's note: This story is part of a faith series I'm working on that highlights our local places of worship. If you'd like to see your church featured in this series, contact me, editor Korrina Grom, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everything that you need to know about in Vernon Hills is right there in Pastor Sue Beadle's office.
There are, of course, shelves of religious books that you'd expect to see in a pastor's office. But then there's her somewhat-hidden shrine to the Green Bay Packers (which, of course, inspires a rivalry with the Bears fans in the congregation). And don't forget about the life-sized cardboard cutout of Mark Harmon.
"We are a fun congregation," said Beadle. "We're a pretty easy-going church."
Christ Lutheran Church was started in 1978 by a pastor from North Dakota who "wanted to bring a little bit of that rural North Dakota down here," said Beadle. The church building, located at 595 Deerpath Road, was constructed in 1979. The church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA.
Beadle, who has been a pastor for 21 years, joined Christ Lutheran six and a half years ago after serving at a church in Long Grove for 15 years.
"The people are real," Beadle said of the Christ Lutheran congregation, which consists of 75 to 80 families. "They're people who would rather take you out for a beer and pizza, and they'll talk about their faith.
"They're not pretentious," Beadle added. "It's just a 'down-to-earth, we're all sinners' kind of congregation."
It's the kind of church where jeans and khakis are the norm.
It's also a church where people want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"This congregation wanted me to tell them how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. (In seminary) they teach you how to dissect a Bible verse, but not how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ," said Beadle.
That was something Beadle ended up studying on her own so she could impart her wisdom to the congregation. She is now enrolled in a seminary to receive her doctorate in spiritual transformation.
"I tell the congregation, 'I'm in a doctorate of ministry program' and they respond with 'We're all in a doctorate of ministry program,'" Beadle said, laughing.
"It's been a soul-searching four or five years," she said of studying about - and then teaching the congregation about - having that personal relationship with Jesus. "It's been a good ride."
While the church has just one service during the summer, at 9:30 a.m., the church will return to its two-service schedule Sept. 16. The services will be held at 8:15 (traditional) and 10:45 (contemporary), with Sunday School in between.
"We do worship really well and creatively," said Beadle, noting that the contemporary service has a praise band. "If people are looking for the same service every day until they die, they won't find it here. This congregation embraces change in worship."
Christ Lutheran is also home to a vibrant preschool program that just celebrated its 20th anniversary. There are 100 children enrolled in the program this year.
"It's an excellent ministry in the community," said Beadle.
Other ministries at Christ Lutheran include Bible studies, a youth program, Leadership Lab for high school students, and Caring Hands, where members make prayer shawls for people in hospitals. There's also a bowling league.
"If you're an avid bowler, do not come out for this league," Beadle joked.
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