After many months of discussion and work, the three congregations in Beecher, Illinois have merged into one. The new name for their ministry is Peace Lutheran Church and the Charter Service was held on May 21, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. The service was held at what was Zion’s church building, 540 Oak Park Ave., Beecher, IL 60401. Rev. Dr. Allan R. Buss, President, LCMS Northern Illinois District, preached. A light reception was held after the service. All were invited to attend this celebration.
This wasn't just a celebratory event, but a cumulation of months of conversations, work, and prayer together by the three congregations. St. Paul Lutheran Church, Zion Lutheran Church, and St. John Lutheran Church have been working together since September 2021. Their Circuit (19) was one of the first circuits in the LCMS Northern Illinois District where lay and pastoral leadership were brought together by the District office to discuss challenges and opportunities for the common community.
The purpose of these circuit partnership gatherings is to provide congregational leadership with the opportunity for learning, fellowship, and mutual edification. And, Circuit 19 has had both unique challenges and opportunities presented to them, especially in the Beecher community.
Specific events have brought the Beecher congregations together. Pastor Julian LaMie, St. John Lutheran Church (ordained in 2019), and Pastor Michael Stein, St. Paul Lutheran Church (ordained in 2020), could not have known what God had planned for them on their first calls to Beecher, Illinois.
At Zion Lutheran Church, the school closed and there is currently a pastor vacancy due to a retirement. Across the country, LCMS congregations are facing a shortage of pastors and so Zion is not alone in this challenge.
St. Paul Lutheran Church did however face a unique challenge. On the afternoon of September 19, 2021, their church was destroyed by fire. “The building is gone, but the church remains. The building served the church of St. Paul’s well for our first 150 years. The church, the people of St. Paul’s still stand. We proclaim the comfort, the forgiveness, the peace, and the joy of Jesus. We are reminded that even when things seem darkest, Christ’s light shines brighter,” said Rev. Michael Stein.
The Beecher congregations are also connecting with each other to share resources, to be better stewards of resources, and work together as the Church. Such things blessed their congregations and laid groundwork for the future partnership. Together, and working with Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), they could clarify how their work together could utilize their combined resources.
Early last year, three LCMS churches serving the same community gathered in one sanctuary and began to explore what it would look like to work together.
They asked hard questions.
What was their mission? How were they serving their community? Then they asked, “What if we became one church?” What would that look like?
There was an overwhelming response: Together is better.
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual building up.” Romans 14:19
Introducing Peace Lutheran Church:
A merger of St. John, St. Paul, and Zion Lutheran Churches in Beecher, IL.
What does this mean? It means that the three churches will now operate as one, with a single name and leadership team. You’ll see a name change at some of your favorite events, and most importantly, a name change at St. John and Zion church locations in Beecher.
Zion Lutheran Church will now be called Peace Lutheran Church, and you’ll hear us call it our Beecher Campus.
St. John Lutheran Church will be called Peace Lutheran Church and will be referred to as our Eagle Lake Campus.
St. Paul will not be rebuilding a new building. As Pastor Stein said after the fire, “The building is gone, but the Church remains.”
We aren’t closing, we are building each other up. We are here to stay and we are excited for the future. We invite you to follow us and see what God is doing. Join us for Worship, Bible class, and Sunday school. We look forward to serving and growing in our community for many years to come.
Welcome to Peace!
Please check out the wonderful article from the LCMS Northern Illinois District
Exciting news! The formation of Peace Lutheran in Beecher is underway as St John, St Paul, and Zion come together to create one unified church. A member of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. Stay tuned for updates on how we will serve our community.