Our Story – ELCA Ordained Women

November 6, 2020

In 2020, the ELCA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of U.S. Lutheran churches’ decision to ordain women, and continuing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of the first women of color and the 10th anniversary of the ELCA’s decision to officially ordain people in same-gender committed relationships.

In June 1970, the LCA, changed one word: the resolution before the convention simply amended the denomination’s Bylaw by striking the word ‘man’ and inserting the word ‘person.’ The revised Bylaw read: ‘A minister of this church shall be a person whose soundness in the faith, aptness to teach, and educational qualifications have been examined and approved in the manner prescribed in the constitution, and who has been properly ordained.’ In October of 1970, at the ALC General Convention, the Church Council submitted a motion that ‘women be eligible for call and ordination in The American Lutheran Church.’

The early years with women theologically and biblically trained brought new gifts to the church’s public ministry. As women began to serve in the church’s leadership, their communities began to discover a wholeness of the body of Christ in the gifts they brought with them.

This joy in serving is captured by our presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, too. She writes, “We didn’t say yes to God’s call because we wanted to be pioneers, or trailblazers or to make some kind of statement. We said yes because God’s call is irresistible, because of the joy of serving the gospel, because of the great privilege of walking with people as the deep love of Jesus becomes real for them.”

For this and for all of our sisters in the ministry who have experienced great struggles and great joy in serving, we give thanks to God! We are thankful for those women that have served at New Life or who were supported by New Life to pursue their call.

Pastor Rakel Evenson: 2008- Present

Called as our Associate Pastor in 2008 and worked with youth and family ministries. Called to Lead Pastor in 2016 and has helped New Life grow in faith, connection, and service to our community. Her constant reminder during this pandemic, “This is temporary, Keep praying, Stay connected, You are loved and missed.” has become a soothing hope for our future.

Pastor Chelsey Olson Weech: 2017

While a student at LSTC, Chelsey served as our Vicar working with youth and attended the ELCA                                                                                 National Youth Gathering.

Miho Yasukawa: 2012

Completed her Ministry-In-Context requirement here at New Life

Bridget Thien: 2012

Bridget grew up in New Life and pursued her call as a young adult. She was ordained in 2012.

Pastor Trish Batik: 2006-2007

Became Interim Associate Pastor for one year during our call process. Took a youth group to Washington D.C.

Pastor Sarah Bunge: 2002 – 2006

Started as a Senior Seminarian student during senior year at LSTC. She worked with youth and family ministries. She then accepted our call as Associate Pastor at New Life in 2003.

Rev. Naomi Hawkins Barcanic: 2001

Participated in worship and preached once a month. She served on the staff at the ELCA National Church Headquarters in Chicago.

Marsha Swenson: 1975 – 1990s

Marsha was a member at New Life early on in our history and eventually pursued a calling to become a pastor in the late 1990s.

Mary Sgarioto: 1994

Mary wore many hats during her tenure here as an intern from LSTC. She was involved with youth in WHAM, helped Pastor Walker lead services, and led the “Women in Spirituality” class.

If we have missed anyone who has served at New Life over the past 50 years, please send information to susan@newlifebolingbrook.org.