Messenger, December 2019

Ebenezer Participation in Open House Chicago 2019 a Great Success

For the first time, Ebenezer participated as one of the host sites for Open House Chicago 2019, an annual city-wide event put on by the Chicago Architecture Center, during which interesting buildings throughout the city are open to the public for one weekend.
During the event weekend, October 19-20, 348 visitors toured Ebenezer’s sanctuary, many of them from the neighborhood, and many of those expressing delight at the opportunity to see inside the “Swedish Cathedral.” Others had a personal connection to our church building — baptized here years ago, parents married in the sanctuary, members as children and young adults. There was even an extraordinary moment where several members who hadn’t seen one another in decades discovered their connection and held an impromptu reunion, with great surprise and great joy.
By any measure, the event was a great success, and a powerful connection with the Andersonville community. Many thanks to the Ebenezer volunteers who made this possible (there were so many of you!), and special gratitude to Chris Comella and Jessica Daniels for putting together the pictures and informational posters that helped our visitors experience the history of Ebenezer. It made all the difference!

Transgressive Theater and Ebenezer Refugee Support

Norm Dynneson accepts a contribution to Ebenezer Supports Refugees.

On September 7, Transgressive Theater performed Menotti’s The Consul at Ebenezer. This opera retells the experiences of people who are refugees. Three of Ebenezer’s tutoring students participated on a panel after the performance. They recounted their experiences escaping Eritrea, living in refugee camps or asylum countries, waiting for years and finally arriving in America. On November 7, Transgressive Theater presented Ebenezer Supports Refugees with a check for $1850, which was half of the profits from the performance in September.

Ebenezer Supports Refugees collects gently used clothing, household goods and some furniture and distributes needed items to recent refugees and other families in need from Ebenezer Tutoring Program. Donated money like the one from Transgressive are used to meet special needs of the families. This has included eye glasses, truck rentals for moves and transportation of furniture donations, school uniforms, seasonal clothing anditems that aren’t covered by food stamps. Many of the families have received a shopping trip shortly after they arrive. Some earmarked donations have helped pay for rent and transportation.

Newly arriving families receive no help from settlement agencies after the first 3-6 months in the US. Family members continue to have problems with employment, housing, language acquisition, and cultural adjustments long after their first year in America. Ebenezer’s refugee support strives to bridge that period until families can assimilate all of the trauma and change they have experienced and become fully independent Americans.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to know our new families are beyond grateful for the support of Transgressive Theater and all of the others who have contributed in so many ways.

Lutheran World Relief Quilt Sunday

On All Saints’ Sunday, it has become our custom during the worship service to display the quilts our members have made for Lutheran World Relief and the school bags our members have filled. This year 33 quilts and 50 school bags received a blessing. After church, the quilts and schoolbags were packed up, then sent off the next day to LWR. Lutheran World Relief, in turn, sends these items to locations across the globe where they are needed.
The school kits literally are the difference between children getting an education or not. It’s especially important for girls since they are often denied an education if there is only enough money for a family to send its male children.
The quilts have the potential to keep people warm, shade them from the hot sun, give them comfort in a hospitalsetting, or provide a clean and festive backdrop for the family’s goods in the market place.

Thanks to all who have participated in our quilt and school bag projects! We know we can count on lots of people to bring school supplies every year. We would LOVE to have more people join those who make quilts. If you’d like to cut fabric, make a quilt yourself, or help tie the finished quilts, see Jackie Wood for details. Also, if you are interested in other LWR projects (and there are many), just check out

Ebenezer’s Building Lets Good Things Happen on Thursdays

Ebenezer Tutoring has made an exciting and successful beginning of this 2019-20 school year. Each Thursday 15-19 children walk the mile from their school at St. Ita’s to Ebenezer at 3 PM. These early arrivals enjoy the opportunity to relax and refresh as they help set up for tutoring and meal preparation. They are especially grateful for the computers, a nice yard and the gym to make use of. By 6:30, fifty students in grades 1-12 and 22 tutors have arrived, had a meal and are ready to begin their studies.

Children in tutoring are happy to have three areas in the Community House to make their own About 20 tutors and students in grades 1-4 occupy the east balcony where they find books, computers and a welcoming environment for doing their studies. About 15 tutors and students in grades 5 and 6 travel to the center balcony with their own computers, books and a comfortable learning space. The middle school and high school students stay in the dining room. Here talented tutors, computers and school supplies let these older students complete an amazing amount of higher level learning. Time is also given to other issues like career exploration, suicide prevention, decision making around summer activities, 8th grade transitions to high school and seniors’ preparations for future training and college. Everyone involved with tutoring is grateful to have a building that can accommodate us.

Contact tutoring facilitator, Norm Dynneson, at for more information about the tutoring program. 
Contact Anne Goeltzer at for information about providing a meal.

2020 Budget Adopted

At our Congregational Meeting on November 3rd, we reviewed our financial position as we approach the end of 2019, and adopted a budget for 2020. We thank the finance team members who prepared the budget proposal, and the congregation members who attended the meeting to make surethat we’re entering the new year with a fiscal plan.

Last year at this time, we considered and ultimately adopted a budget for 2019 with a deficit of about $20,000. The congregation rose to thechallenge, with steady increases in member giving over the course of the year and some generous special gifts. Despite a decrease in Community House income this year related primarily to gym use, we anticipate ending the year just about even, with our income matching our expenses.

Our 2020 budget anticipates $434,000 in income and $441,000 in expenses, a deficit of $7,000. We can overcome this deficit with an increase of 2.5% in member giving next year.

Contact Treasurer, Mike Neff or Finance Team chair, Brian Spitzer with questions.

It’s Time for Our Second Annual Ebenezer Congregational Survey!

This 10-minute survey is intended to help us see who we are and what we value, both as individuals and as a body of Christ. We will not be using this for any purposes outside Ebenezer Lutheran Church.

No identifying information is being collected. Your answers will be totally anonymous, so we’re asking you to be as thoughtful and honest as possible. And we encourage each member of a household (even the kids!) to fill the survey out independently, to ensure that our picture of our congregation is as complete as possible.

Your participation will help Ebenezer create and strengthen our bold and loving vision!
Please click here to take the survey, or — if you would prefer — there are paper copies available in the narthex. The survey will be open until Sunday, December 1. If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Cox.

Community Hour Events

November 24: Making a Home Advent Wreath 
Supplies are provided. Come and make a wreath to use for Advent, starting Dec. 1.

Dec. 1, 8, and 15: Advent Bible Series
Join Ralph Conrad for a study of the biblical texts for Advent about John the Baptist, Mary, and Elizabeth, and of course, Jesus!

New Members to be received Dec. 8.
New member orientation sessions will be held during Community Hour Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. Questions? Contact Pastor Michael for more information!

Ebenezer Parents Group

Join us for our next gathering of parents of infants and toddlers.
We will share parenting joys, frustrations and ideas, as well as offer support to one another.
For more information contact Marcia Smith, parish nurse at or 773-743-1831.

Women’s Book Group

Dec. 16 – The Foundling: The true Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me by Paul Joseph Froncziak

Women’s Book Group meets at 7:00 p.m. in the Education Center Cafe. Come join the conversation!

Edgewater Congregations Together Youth Group

Edgewater Congregations Together Youth Group meets at Immanuel Lutheran Church (1500 W. Elmdale Ave.)
2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month
Dinner – 6:15 pm
Program – 7:00-8:30 pm
Free Time – 8:30-9:00 pm

Edgewater Congregations Together Youth Group consists of youth in grades 6th-12th from Unity, Immanuel, and Ebenezer Lutheran Churches in the neighborhood of Edgewater. During the school year, they gather on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Immanuel Lutheran Church for a meal, games, faith discussions, and worship. For more information, contact Pastor Emily at

Edgewater Congregations Together Young Adults Group

Young adults (18 years old through early 30s) from Unity, Ebenezer, and Immanuel Lutheran churches, as well as others from the community, will be gathering once a month for social events, service projects, and faith and life discussions.
If you are a young adult and would like to connect with other young adults in the area, please contact Pastor Emily Heitzman at to learn how you can get involved and/ or to sign up.
Upcoming Events:
Nov. 24 – ECRA Interfaith Thanksgiving Service (3 p.m.) and Dinner/ Games at Pastor Emily’s house (5:15-7:30 p.m.) 
Meet at St. Ita Catholic Church (Clark and Catalpa) at 2:45 p.m.
Those who cannot make it to the ECRA service can meet at Pastor Emily’s house at 5:15 p.m. for dinner and games until 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 – Glogg & Carols at Simon’s Tavern, 7 p.m. (21+ young adults) and Apps at Lady Gregory’s, 8:15 p.m. (18+ young adults). Appetizers will be covered. Drinks and dinner are on your own.

Save-the-Date for these Events

For the full listing of 2019 Advent events, click here.

Sunday, Nov. 24. – ECRA Interfaith Thanksgiving Service – 3:00 PM
This year, the annual ECRA Thanksgiving Service will be hosted by the combined St. Ita and St. Thomas Church, 5500 N. Broadway, in their Jubilee Hall. The general theme is compassion and gratitude for all we have received.
An ensemble of violins accompanying Bridget Dunne singing “We Sing for the Children” will represent the parish at the event.
All are welcome to attend the event. Everyone is encouraged to bring canned goods to the service which will go to the food pantry at Care for Real.

Thanksgiving Day at Ebenezer
Thanksgiving Dinner at Ebenezer will be Thursday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Dining Room. Ham and turkey will be available, those who can sign up to bring a side dish or dessert. Friends and family are most welcome! See the sign up sheets in the narthex or see Georgian Hadley or Pastor Michael with any questions.

Saturday, Dec. 7 – Baking buns for the St. Lucia festival

Tuesday, Dec. 17. – Glogg & Carols at Simon’s Tavern, 7:00 PM

2020 Spirituality Retreat

Risky Wonder: Spiritualities of Nature for City Folks – Friday, February 7, 7:00 PM – Saturday, Feburary 8, 4:00 PM

Leader: Lea Schweitz, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Science, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
All are welcome! Learning and fun for children on Saturday. Donations appreciated.

Location: Techny Conference Center | Techny, IL
Cost: $90 (Scholarships available)

Mental Health Matters – Ebenezer Mental Health Team

Physical and mental health is an essential component of a Christian vocation and is God’s intention for every human being. It is vital to our well-being and helps strengthen relationships and enhance our Christian service in our communities and world. 

For more information about anything in this newsletter, Ebenezer’s worship services, or community, contact us.