The History of Cross of Glory: A Story of God’s Mission
by Laura Uzzardo
1979: Cross of Glory (CoG) was planted as a new mission church by the American Lutheran Church. At this time the church was known as the American Lutheran Church of Homer Township. Services were held at Homer Jr. High school on 159th and Cedar.
1981: A full-time pastor, Robert F. Rodewald (11-08-81 to 08-29-82), was called. At this time the church was known as the Homer Township American Lutheran Church. In that year a site (2.7 acres on Bell Road) was chosen.
1982: Homer Township American Lutheran Church called its second full-time pastor, Doug Meyer (11-28-82 to 03-01-92).
1983: Groundbreaking signals beginning of building process. Worship was held in the new building (15626 S. Bell Road) for the first time on Christmas Eve. (This is now the Greek Orthodox church located to the north of Homer Jr High School.)
1984: The new building was dedicated. Pastor Wayne Koetz preached for the dedication. He observed that there was no carpet yet on the floors, and said how that reminds us how the church is ever building and changing. The first Halloween party for the community held. It was attended by almost 200. The congregation began to recognize its place as a community church for families.
1985: A lot happened in this year. A contemporary service became part of the new worship routine. A logo was designed and a sign was built to give visible identity. Also in this year, a new name and mission statement were approved.
Name: Cross of Glory Lutheran Church
Mission Statement: We are God’s family gathered through baptism to share God’s gifts of grace. We invite all of God’s people to join with us in the celebrations of Word and Sacraments. Through the holy Spirit we are called to nurture each other in regular worship, fellowship, and learning. Following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ we provide opportunities for the sharing of our gifts and strive by working together through faith active in love for justice in meeting the needs in the local and wider human community.
1987: Cross of Glory averaged more than 100 for worship on Sundays. Worship for Christmas was the largest to date with 175. Food distribution and gifts are provided to more families than ever. The congregation was developing a ministry of caring.
1988: This was another big year. Big changes were happening among Lutheran denominations. The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America officially joined together and formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (ELCA)
Big changes were happening at Cross of Glory as well. A second service was added. The first softball team was organized – won only one game. Ministry outreach grows with many community groups using the church facilities. Cross of Glory’s constitution was given final revision by the congregation. Some of the changes included Cross of Glory’s identification as an ELCA church and the pastor made a voting member of the church council. 1992: Cross of Glory began a nine month interim period, during which time its continued existence was brought into question due to years of stagnant growth, budget deficits, and internal conflict. Worship attendance had gone from 150 to 60.
1992: The leadership team decided to trust God and move forward. Cross of Glory’s third pastor, Kelly Fryer (11-1992 to 12-07-03), was called to help “redevelop” the congregation and lead it in being a mission church once again.
1993: After much prayer and conversation – and an intense study of the Book of Acts – Cross of Glory voted to sell the building on Bell Road and start over. This began a period of great conflict and some membership loss for the church. But this vote was a major turning point for Cross of Glory. It was also during this year that the Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, and Faith Practices of Cross of Glory were articulated.
Vision: To create a community of faith so compelling that it draws people in and transforms them so that they can change the world.
Mission: Celebrating God … Sharing Christ … Today!
• Jesus Is Lord
• Everyone Is Welcome
• Love Changes People
• Everyone Has Something To Offer
• The World Needs What We Have
Faith Practices: Worshiping, Witnessing, Learning, Serving, and Sharing
1994: The first worship service was held in the gymnasium of Hadley School (15731 S. Bell Road).
1995: The church council appointed a “mission strategy task force.” This group was asked to put together a prayerful plan for our future that included space needs, staffing, and program development. They presented their report to the congregation and called Cross of Glory to fulfill our mission by:
• Feeding the Spirit
• Feeding the Family
• Feeding the Future (our children)
• Feeding the Community (our brothers & sisters in need)
1996: CoG purchased a 15 acre site at Cedar Road & 163rd Street and conducted the first “Groundbreaking Campaign.” In this same year began working with a design-build firm to sketch out plans for a multi-purpose ministry center.
1998: Cross of Glory held worship in the old “White Hen” on 143rd street.
1999: Under a tent on the new building site, with lots of friends & partners, CoG broke ground for the new ministry center (14719 W. 163rd St.). Many volunteer hours were spent working on this new building and the congregation celebrated every milestone – Cross of Glory laid the cornerstone, blessed the foundation, and dedicated the wall studs with our prayers.
2000: Cross of Glory worshiped together in what was beginning to look like an actual building. The floor was still gravel and the beams exposed, but God’s presence filled the space. Cross of Glory commissioned our new missionary that morning, Donna Quathamer, who founded Casa de los Angeles in San Miguel, Mexico. Right in the middle of our own building program, we dug deep to help get this far away shelter for children in poverty off the ground.
2001: The new building was not yet completed, but Cross of Glory moved a little closer to the new site. CoG held worship services in the Homer Town Hall (16057 S. Cedar Road). Easter attendance was nearly 250 people.
2001: Cross of Glory celebrated the Grand Opening of our new ministry center with over 1000 people at a community festival on Saturday and nearly 500 at worship on Sunday morning. Laura Uzzardo was hired as the Parish Administrator. Jamie Knutson and Karin Knutson were hired as Pastoral Associates.
2002: Cross of Glory opened the Welcome Place Preschool with Jamie Knutson as the Preschool Director. And opened the Christian Care & Counseling Center with Sharon Aden as the Director.
2003: Cross of Glory began another nine month interim period.
2004: Cross of Glory called its fourth full-time pastor, Chris Beamsley (09-2004 to 10-2006). During Pastor Chris’ time at Cross of Glory, the first team of teenagers was sent on a mission trip to Casa de los Angeles.
2006: Cross of Glory began a two year interim period with Pastor Gene Peisker. Ministry continued and leaders stepped up in huge ways. Cross of Glory was involved in the Bridge Builders process, and formed an Action Planning team (APT) to help the congregation evaluate its ministry and mission. The APT made recommendations about the call process, mission, structure, leadership, worship, finance, stewardship, and constitution of Cross of Glory.
2007: Mimi Pappas was hired to staff the nursery.
2008: Cross of Glory called its fifth full-time pastor. Pastor PJ Malin (06-09-2008 02-2012) was called to help Cross of Glory once again reclaim its identity as a mission church. Bob Bejlovec was also hired as Maintenance Staff.
2008: After a summer sermon series that explored the saving activity of Jesus (Summer in the Son), Pastor PJ worked with the staff, council, and congregation to repackage the Mission and Guiding Principles. Inspired by the sermon series, the new version of the Mission statement was designed to bring all the core values and beliefs of Cross of Glory together into one statement that would help the congregation be clear and focused about our mission. Along with this new mission statement came a new church symbol and logo.
2009: As excitement and numbers have been growing, Cross of Glory has also been growing its Mission with the addition of several significant ministries. In 2009, Cross of Glory launched the Risen program (Religious Instruction for those with Special Education Needs).
2012: In February we celebrated the ministry of Pastor PJ Malin as he moved on to continue his good works. Pastor Howard Buchholz II became our Interim Pastor. The Call Team worked with the Northern Illinois Synod to Call upon our new pastor.
2012: Throughout the year the congregation came together to discuss becoming a Reconciling in Christ Church, where everyone would be welcomed and accepted. A new proposed Welcome Statement was prayerfully formed from a team of members. These were voted and accepted on Sept 23rd. Cross of Glory Lutheran Church is a community of faith that will publicly accept all of God’s children in the spirit of love and respect taught to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
2012: Cross of Glory called its sixth full-time pastor. Pastor Dorothy Wilcox (11-01-2012) was called to help Cross of Glory once again reclaim its identity as a mission church.
2016: The church called its seventh full-time pastor, Dana O’Brien. Dana comes to the church with a lot of energy and excitement.
Exciting things are happening at Cross of Glory and we invite all to be a part of them. God bless!