Learn about the history of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
The birth of St. Matthew Lutheran Church took place on November 30, 1958. There were eighty-two adult members and fifty-five child members who signed the charter to formally bring this congregation into being. And we still have the Bible on display that they all signed to prove it!
The organizing pastor was Richard A. Swanson who had come to the area as a mission developer for the Augustana Lutheran Church. The congregation extended him a call to become the first pastor of the parish. Services started in the summer of 1958 at Fenton High School, Bensenville, Illinois. This was where the congregation came into being, where the organizational structure took place, where the charter was signed. In 1960, the congregation moved their worship center to Washington School, Itasca, Illinois. The building in which the congregation now worships was erected in 1962. During this same year, the Augustana Lutheran Church joined with three other Lutheran bodies to become the Lutheran Church in America. If you are an alphabet soup fan, you will know that the LCA, ALC & AELC came together in 1988 to form the ELCA – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — in which we now hold our membership. If you’re not — please know we are the liberal side of the Lutheran house; diversity of gender, sexuality and color is built into who we are.
The congregation has been served by many people of God. The ones who been ordained include Pastor Richard A. Swanson, 1958-1966, Rev. Dr. Robert R. Lesher, 1967-1993, Rev. Dr. Timothy Hubert, 1995-2001, Pastor Scot Turnball, 2003-2006, Pastor J.T. Miller 2007-2009, and interim Pastors Pastor Ken Pohlmann and Pastor Paul Pfeffer 2009 — 2013, Pastor Rebekah Costello 2013-2019, and once again interim Pastor Art Puotinen, 2019-2020. In October of 2020, we called a new pastor, Pastor Lisa K. Watson-Hill, who steps into the ongoing spiritual tradition of St. Matthew, but with the twist of being called to rebuild the church as an inclusive, inviting community. We are in a cycle of new birth — and we invite ALL to come help us build the body of Christ!
During its sixty years of ministry, St. Matthew Lutheran Church has had the opportunity to be a part of many lives. There have been nearly 500 baptisms and over 300 persons received by confirmation and over 1,000 persons have been members at one time or another. But this is not a butts on seats ministry; we want to live into the ELCA motto of “God’s Work, Our Hands”! Currently, that work includes Itasca Food Pantry volunteerism and the Linda Susan Benson Fund. We are praying into how the Holy Spirit will show up for the future as we live into that mission!