Ebenezer Lutheran Church was organized as a congregation of the Augustana Lutheran Synod on January 20, 1892 by the Swedish immigrants of Andersonville (Edgewater). At the height of the immigration period of the twentieth century, the congregation grew to nearly 2000 members. At that time the congregation was a center of religion, culture, and family activity for this new Swedish community. The present sanctuary was completed in 1908 and the additions were added in 1929. The congregation continued as a member of the Lutheran Church in America in the early 1960’s and subsequently as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America when it was formed in 1988. During the pastorate of Theodore Matson, during the mid-1950’s, the mission and ministry of the congregation began to perceive that its mission and ministry extended beyond the Swedish community.
This new direction was enhanced, as Andersonville became less Swedish and more multi-cultural. In 1987 the sanctuary underwent an extensive remodeling. Care was taken to modernize the utility of the space while maintaining the original design and beauty of the sanctuary. The leadership began to articulate more fully the congregation’s desire to reach out to all the residents of Andersonville.
Pastor Paul Koch was called as senior pastor in January 1989. (Pastor Koch retired in June 2009.) Three major goals for mission and ministry were established: Ebenezer would become a home for those seeking a place to explore their own spirituality; Ebenezer would become a community center in which organizations and activities that addressed the interests and needs of the north side would be welcome; Ebenezer would engage itself in working for justice on the north side and throughout Chicagoland.
As Ebenezer re-positioned itself, it adopted a strong Reconciling in Christ stance. This means gays and lesbians are welcome to use the building, join the congregation and its leadership, and have their unions blessed by the pastor. The building has become a beehive of activity sponsored by the church and by community groups and clubs.
Our current pastor, Michael Fick, was called to serve in 2011. Ebenezer is currently experiencing solid growth in membership, vibrant and growing ministries with children, and remarkable diversity of ages and backgrounds in the community, as well as discerning the needs of our community and facilities for the years to come.
The Sunday liturgy is a lively expression of the Christian tradition utilizing original music and music from around the world, a variety of instrumentation, and intentional lay leadership alongside the pastor. Currently the Swedish heritage of the congregation is maintained primarily during December. On December 13th, the Swedish-American community meets in the evening to observe St. Lucia Day. A Julmässa, or Christmas liturgy in Swedish, is held in the afternoon on a Sunday before Christmas in partnership with the office of the Consulate General of Sweden.