Rev. Beth Dickerson, our current Interim Minister, comes to us after serving as the Interim Minister at four previous churches. An ordained United Church of Christ minister, this is her first time serving an American Baptist congregation. She has discovered an affinity for the American Baptist Church, finding that ABC theology is very similar to UCC theology.
Beth believes that it is our calling as followers of the Spirit to make a difference in this world by actively participating in creating the Divine’s vision of peace, justice, and equality here on Earth. She says, “My God is an inclusive God, a God who loves all people regardless of age, skin color, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, marital status, sexual orientation, or personal trials and tribulations. We are all God’s children. As churches we often struggle to be inclusive. We wrestle with deciding which traditional beliefs, values, and practices are still meaningful to us and which can be set aside. We recognize that our definition of the word “family” is changing and that our multi-racial, multi-cultural society is our new reality. God has called me to minister to churches and individuals who are struggling to practice their faith in today’s changing world.”
As people of faith, we are all called to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our Higher Spirit. Beth strongly believes we are not meant to do this alone. She says, “We are called to be in community with other people of faith. We worship as a church community because we love the Divine and are eternally grateful for the Divine’s loving, grace-filled presence in our lives. And we worship as a community of faith because worship fills our soul, thus enabling us to go out into the world as advocates for peace, justice, equality, and love.”
Beth comes to us with the support and love of her husband Paul. Beth and Paul have three grown children and have been blessed with three granddaughters. They currently live in Oak Park and are very much enjoying getting to know both Lake Street Church and the Evanston community.
Fundamental to the richness of shared experience of our community is the music provided, led and coordinated by Diana Schmück. Participation in youth and adult choirs, along with keyboard contributions, were part of her musical and personal development. As an adult she took part in worship in churches and mentored young church musicians in her positions at Febias College in Manila, Philippines and at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana.Heralded by the Chicago Sun-times as “one of the finest chamber pianists on the scene…playing with her ears as much as her gifted hands,” Schmück has appeared in concert throughout the United States and Canada, in Europe and as the Philippines. Diana is a founding member of the Orion Ensemble, a highly praised chamber group. She is a doctoral graduate of Northwestern University and holds degrees from DePaul University and Wheaton College.
Diana is kept busy leading Lake Street Church’s Chancel Choir, which provides the backbone of music for our Sunday worship services, the Concert Choir, and the Men’s Choir. In addition, she performs as the church organist and pianist. We’re blessed by her talent and leadership.
Jillian Westerfield is the Director of Children’s and Family Programming. Inspired by philosopher and theologian Jean Vanier, Jillian believes that all people are equally spiritually-abled, regardless of age, education, or intellect. Based on this, Jillian’s goal for children’s programming is to nurture the children’s confidence in themselves as spiritual beings with valid experiences and to offer them tools for growing their individual relationships with the Divine.
Before joining the staff at Lake Street, Jillian worked with a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational opportunities for children living in poverty during their first five years of life. Her past experience also includes serving as a Vietnamese interpreter in the Navy and working in systems improvement in both manufacturing and nonprofit settings. Her favorite job before she went into ministry was managing a comic book store, though.
Jillian has a degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Edward’s University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Chicago Theological Seminary in Hyde Park. She and her wife live in Chicago with their fabulous daughter and two cats.
Amber Naylor uses the magic of theater and power of storytelling to spark social change and personal growth. She is the Director of Youth Programming at Lake Street Church. Amber is simultaneously pursuing a Masters of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago and a Masters of Divinity from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is also President of the nonprofit Acting Out Awareness, which uses theater to address stigmatized social issues.
In addition to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama, she has stage and production management experience from First Stage (Washington DC), Nebraska Shakespeare, Belvoir Terrace (Massachusetts), and Santa Fe Opera (New Mexico). She is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and received her undergraduate degrees in theater production at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Enjoying the opportunity to serve the wonderful Lake Street Church community, Emily stewards the physical and financial resources of the church. Attending the funds, paying the bills, providing reports, purchasing services, booking spaces and overseeing building maintenance assures variety in her work. And invaluable help from volunteers and coordination with the House, Finance and other committees keeps things functioning and lively!
Emily’s background is in marketing and product development for corporations and non-profit organizations. Originally from the east coast, she discovered the charm of Chicago while attending Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and has been in the area for over 30 years.
Movies, music, long walks, dark chocolate and friendly smiles put a spring in this Church Administrator’s step.
There are many of us here with a long-time bond to Lake Street Church. For Pat, Lake Street Church has been a home for decades. Her parents helped to build the foundation of LSC where Pat attended Sunday School, joined the choir at the age of 15, and served on the General Board for 14 years.
In 2008 Pat joined our staff as the Administrative Assistant. Among the great variety of things that Pat does are greeting visitors, tracking the comings and goings of the many groups and organizations that use our facilities, fielding requests that flood the office, handling the weekly bulletin and coordinating other church communications, firing up the sound system and turning pages for the organist or pianist during those challenging pieces.
Pat relaxes by gardening and a lot of reading. The granddaughter of a military man, her favorite subject is World War II history.
Every organization is critically dependent on the men and women who work quietly behind the scenes to keep the moving parts oiled and in good working order. Kim Jefferson does that job for us at Lake Street Church.
Have you ever held an event and arrived to see the chairs are placed in straight and even rows and the tables are set up in just the right spot? Have you entered the Sanctuary and noticed the rugs are freshly vacuumed and everything in order? How about walking on freshly mopped floors in the Community Center and into a clean restroom?
These are some of the things that Kim does for us in his quiet way, and it’s great that he is the one who is doing them for us. Next time you see him, just say hello and thank you.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Bob Thompson graduated from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (Graduate Theological Union) and was ordained an American Baptist Minister in 1973. He served American Baptist Churches in Kansas, Ohio and then as Senior Minister of the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Illinois for 30 years. He retired in November of 2010. During the 1980’s he became an activist pastor focusing on issues such as homelessness, racial reconciliation and advocacy for LGBT rights. In the 1990’s he became disillusioned with the spiritual constraints of mainstream American Protestantism and embarked on an exploration of several Eastern spiritual traditions and the Christian mystics. He came to understand his activism not as an expression of religious ideology but rather a manifestation of unitive consciousness. This vision led him to embark on a course of interfaith engagement while serving Lake Street Church. From 1999 – 2004 he also assumed the role of Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In 2010 he was recognized as Chair Emeritus of PWR.
Over the years he has contributed articles to periodicals including The Christian Century, The Chicago Tribune (op-ed), Sound Vision (a Muslim outlet) and others. He is the author of A Voluptuous God: A Christian Heretic Speaks (CopperHouse, 2007), and a contributor to the book for preachers, Feasting on the Word (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011).
In March of 2011 he and his wife Judy Langford moved to Atlanta, Georgia.