New pastor at Grace Lutheran reaches out to Elmwood Park
Newly ordained minister Kevin Baker faces his congregation for the first time Dec. 8 at the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Elmwood Park. | Adam Alexander~For Sun Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:15PM
ELMWOOD PARK — A local church recently received a double blessing with its new pastor being ordained in the same church.
The Rev. Kevin Baker, who was ordained Dec. 8 at Grace Lutheran Church, 2700 N. Harlem Ave., doesn’t fit the look most people would associate with the pastor of a church. He’s 27 years old, unmarried and he wears his hair long.
But he has garnered plenty of experience in and out of the classroom to lead a congregation.
He did his undergraduate study at Texas Lutheran University, setting out with the idea of becoming a high school history teacher, but one of the requirements before graduating was that students take a theology class. After that, he was hooked.
Baker spent a year in Uruguay as part of a global mission to help the poor there. He’s fluent in Spanish and also spent a semester in Ghana, helping people there as well.
Those experiences, he explained, challenged him in regards to making up his mind whether to become a teacher or become a pastor.
“How do I deal with that, all of the pain and suffering in the world?” he said. “Be a part of the solution.”
So he believed the best way of doing that was to become a pastor. One of his main objectives as the church’s new pastor is to make sure the church isn’t just open on Sunday.
“We (church) got used to assuming everyone goes to church,” he said. “The times fit us but we didn’t fit the times.”
Leading a congregation of about 50 members, Baker said he believes it is time for more outreach — with emphasis on “out.”
“We need to build an outward focus,” he explained. “How can we be a part of Elmwood Park Mont Clare community we straddle the line of?”
“Our number one goal here as a congregation is to move outside our walls and connect with the community,” he said.
Baker admits he can’t do it alone, however, but said the members of the church support him and those goals.
“I can’t build this by myself, but we can build something together,” he said.
“Church is not just about going there on Sundays,” he concluded. “You go out and make disciples. You go out and serve the people. That’s what church is all about.”