My name is Pastor Ann, and I am blessed to be called to Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Grayslake, IL. I began here in October of 2021, and moved with my spouse Larry Alexander, and my sister Sarah. Our sister Kate already lives close by and our brother Chris is holding down the fort in the U.P., along with my parents, Shirley and Rodger. Larry and I have four adult children: Kimberly, Michael, Dano and Max. They live in the Detroit metro area. We also have grandchildren: Zedd, EJ, Lilah and Rowan. They are all quite brilliant.
I actually attended a year of elementary school in Grayslake! I've spent most of my life in Michigan, particularly the Upper Peninsula, but my origins are here in northern Illinois. It feels like one of those lovely circles of life to be back in this part of God's glorious creation.
SOTL is my second call. I began full-time ordained ministry at Eden Lutheran Church in Munising, MI, in 2015. I am what they call a “second-career” pastor. Truthfully it is more like a third or fourth vocation. After graduating from Northern Michigan University with a degree in English and journalism, I worked as a reporter and editor. Then I moved into marketing communications. In 2011 I joined the staff of a youth development nonprofit. We focused on building up nonprofit organizations to improve overall community wellness for children and families – a high tide raises all boats, after all. It was fulfilling work. In the process I not only learned a lot about youth development, but also organizational, board and fund development.
It was while I was there that the call I felt at a very young age to full-time religious vocation began to bubble up again, only this time with more potential because I had been welcomed into and nurtured by an ELCA faith community. Truth be told, I tried to ignore God's call for a couple of years. It seemed so contrary to what the world taught and expected from me. I was climbing the prescribed ladders, being groomed for higher-level management, and was making a good living. It felt counter intuitive to put it all aside and pursue seminary and ordination.
But God is persistent, as many of us can testify, and I did just that. Setting off on this new vocational path was one of the scariest things I've ever done, and never have I felt so much like I am doing what God imagined for me.
I am very excited, hopeful and ready to begin walking with the faith community at SOTL, to encourage, equip and embolden everyone to be the light of Christ our world so desperately needs. We are Christ's Church in a time of change and opportunity. The culture around church has changed. No longer are most people engaged in a church because they are looking for an insurance policy against damnation or somebody made them come. People now look for a faith community because they sense God's presence in their lives, or they want to know it more deeply. People come because they are intrigued by this counter-cultural Way of our great teacher and Redeemer Jesus. A Way that places love, forgiveness, and the Good News (Christ is Risen!) at the center of our lives, rather than judgment, divisiveness or the fickle gods of our world like money, status and endless quick fixes.
People come to faith communities in this culture because they are looking for something more, for connection, for what is authentic, for the God-promise we can depend on in our mountain-top experiences as well as in those deep valleys we all experience. It is an exciting time to be church and to
continue to grow as Jesus-following people for the benefit of all who engage in SOTL and all those we encounter beyond the church walls in our homes and neighborhoods.
All are welcome at SOTL. You are invited into this safe space where you may be able to hear and feel more clearly how God is bubbling up in you too!
God's peace and protection be with you, this day and every day.