December 2021

Joy is a term that appears many times in many translations of the Bible; but what does joy really mean? In the Winter 2022 issue of the Ministry Update, we bring to light the joy we see as members of the LCMS Northern Illinois District.

Joy is a state of being, which differs from happiness. Joy is lasting. Happiness may come and go. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone. We find joy in these three phrases!

The Holy Spirit has given us full and abiding joy. We have joy because of the grace of Jesus Christ that lives in us. God is always near. We can joyfully focus on our Savior and who He is in our life. We can hold onto joy, we can feel joyful, and we can rejoice with praise no matter what our circumstances may be and no matter what is going on in our lives. And, no matter how down we are, there is always joy to be found in the Lord, and Scripture is filled with examples of joy.

So, let us go forward with Joy! We asked Congregational Chairpersons from around the District to share with us the Joy! they have in serving their congregations. You will find their responses as diverse as their ministries.


At Immanuel Crystal Lake, being chairman is both a humbling and joyful experience. As chairman, I am more aware of how our members utilize their God-given talents across our ministries. It is a pleasure to watch our members develop a stronger bond with Christ and each other. In addition, it’s an honor to partner with the other board members. They have been amazing Christian examples and regularly are joy-filled examples. It is also a privilege to work with Pastor Larry Tieman. Pastor Tieman humbly focuses on sharing the Gospel and models Christian behavior.

Nick Gottschalk, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Crystal Lake

Over 100 years ago, my great grandfather, along with other area pastors, started our church and school. He became our first pastor. In turn, my grandparents and my parents were faithful role models as they served at Trinity in various leadership and ministry roles. I feel great joy in looking back and realizing the ways the Lord has guided me to this place and time, to serve in this way. I pray that I can fulfill His purpose for me and joyfully serve to His glory. As my life verse says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord … ”.

Brenda Connolly, Trinity Lutheran Church, Roselle

For me, the greatest joy I find in serving as the chair at St. Paul is seeing the congregation gathering together as the body of Christ. Whether it’s for fellowship, fundraising, service events, or school events, I have always loved watching the passion and excitement that flows from this congregation. As chair, I get to see people coming together to accomplish so much for the glory of God.

Michael Holzkopf, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Mount Prospect

While serving as the president of Faith Lutheran Church in Lake Forest, I have indeed experienced joy. The joy is not set in the context of blessings or achievements, for which we have had our share and are thankful for, but rather from the continued opportunities to serve Christ faithfully despite the turmoil and chaos in the world in recent times. I am  reminded that we need to serve as light, a beacon to the world; and in doing so what better way to show this than to emanate joy from our hearts.

Jeff Change, Faith Lutheran Church, Lake Forest

Being in a pastoral vacancy and receiving news yesterday that our secretary is resigning, it is easy to miss feeling joy; but there is joy here at Zion. First, we are blessed to have Rev. Harvey Nicholson as a member. He agreed to serve as our vacancy pastor and, from his first day, reminds us “God already knows who our next pastor will be.” When you know the end will be good, the getting there becomes easier. So many members have offered to help where they can and, most of all, they pray. What power those prayers have had! Led by Pam Grosso, our call committee has come together with servant hearts. They are answering difficult questions and giving direction to our search for a new pastor. When one of us tires or becomes frustrated, there are two or three to pick us up. We are shifting from a mindset of maintaining the status quo to one of preparing ourselves and Zion to be a true home for a new pastor and his family. Trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us at every step, we are living our faith. Walking in Christ with fellow believers, there is no greater joy than this.

Steve Baker, Zion Lutheran Church, Chebanse



WORD: Helping congregations be more centered on a rich life of Word and Sacrament, with congregational support in transitions as well as time of joys and sorrows.

Joy in the Northern Illinois District