Senior pastor Melody Eastman
I’ve been Lead Pastor at St. Paul since 1998. This is my fourth call; I was ordained in 1987 and have served all of my ministry in the Metro Chicago Synod.
I wasn’t raised in a church. My parents never attended worship—not even on holidays. I became a Christian in high school and joined a Lutheran (LCA) congregation while I was attending Indiana University in Bloomington. My campus pastor invited me to consider seminary instead of my career path of journalism—and much to my surprise I found myself in Chicago attending the Lutheran seminary there—LSTC.
I find that faith is an always-surprising journey. God is very present every step of the way, but often not in the ways I expected. Much of the richness of my baptismal calling comes in the questions I still have, which travel right along with all the things I have come to believe. (A big part of the reason I fell in love with God in the Lutheran church is because asking questions was considered a demonstration of faithfulness, rather than a lack of it.)
My goal at St. Paul is to help this community risk really walking with God. I want us to be a community filled with people who are more interested in being the Church than in simply having a church. I want people who fear they might be excluded or judged to find welcome in Christ. I believe forgiveness is transformational—it gives us courage and power to love people outside of our doors in ways the rest of the world thinks is ridiculous. I want people to look at Christ’s Church revealed in this community and think, “I don’t know what they’ve got—but I want some.”
I love being part of “organized religion,” because it’s the Church that has challenged all the great brokenness in my life—racism, materialism, homophobia, classism, sexism. It’s the Church that has offered me hope. It’s the Church that offers me the power to address the needs of the world because we’re organized—through Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, and a host of other ways. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and of Lutheran Services in America—which comprises over 300 Lutheran ministries caring for 1 out of every 50 Americans each year. This Church is an amazing place to live, and God’s power is being revealed all over the place. I absolutely love being called to be part of it.
My husband Marty and I have two married children and are currently empty-nesters. We enjoy hiking, biking, camping and kayaking, and we love live music—especially bluegrass, folk and trad (Irish).