Rev. Jessica A. Harren
- Schaumburg, IL
Open Heart faith gathering, Chicago, IL; PastorJess.com, web; Lutheran Church of the Cross, Arlington Heights, IL; When Jesus Wears Makeup; online and around Chicago
What brings you joy in your ministry?
I find joy is seeing how an expansive view of God's love, grace, and compassion can change people's lives. Also, knowing how hard Jesus worked for justice for those without brings me joy.
Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?
The Proclaim community shows me just how big God's love can be.
What are your interests outside of ministry?
Reading, anti-racism, justice, ableism
Best meal you've ever eaten?
Pastor Jess grew up in Wichita, KS, attained her BA in Psychology and minor in Theology from Texas Lutheran University in 2001. After moving to the Chicagoland area, she earned her MA in Community Counseling from Loyola University Chicago in 2003, and her M. Div. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2010. After 15 months as a staff hospital chaplain, Pastor Jess served Capron Lutheran Church in Capron, IL for four years, where an emergent worship service known as Open Space was born. After an interim position at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Homer Glen in 2016, Pastor Jess made her way around the Metro Chicago Synod supply preaching and leading workshops on Open Space. From 2017 to 2018, Pastor Jess served a one year term call at Calvary Lutheran Church in Chicago. She is now working as an extra-institutional mission developer for Open Heart faith gathering, consulting with other Pastors, creating resources on her website, and serving on the synod Anti-Racism team. She is preaching and providing pastoral care at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Arlington Heights, IL, as well as providing workshops for ministries on anti-racism, family systems, emergent worship, and learning to use language in humanizing ways. Pastor Jess is running a Mary Kay business called When Jesus Wears Makeup concentrating on the LGBTQIA+ community and on stewardship of our bodies as part of God's good creation; the business is also being used to fund Open Heart faith gathering. Her theology focuses on embodiment (incarnation) as she lives with a rare genetic condition that causing disabilities. She lives in a suburb of Chicago with her spouse, child, and two cats.
Did you always want to be clergy?
When God came to me a dream and asked "If you could do anything with your life on earth, what would you want to do?" and my subconscious mind answered "Be a Pastor." My family will tell you that nothing about me makes sense until you see me doing ministry, and then everything makes sense.