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Rev. Chris Wogaman

Ministry setting

After nearly 10 years of waiting for first call, I was called by the lovely people of Trinity Lutheran Church in Park Forest, IL, to be their pastor! My congregation is currently mostly older, though are truly young at heart. I am grateful that we are a Reconciling in Christ congregation since 2012, and we are rededicating ourselves to that spirit of welcome that has lived at Trinity since its founding in 1949.

What brings you joy in your ministry?

Creatively expressing the Gospel brings me joy in ministry, whether it be through engaging in a conversation, preaching a sermon, writing or singing a new hymn, being present in difficult times to walk with people, or bringing solace to the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds. I also rejoice in letting people know that they are not alone in the wildernesses that life brings us to, and God and family and friends can bring us through.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

My internship supervisor and urban ministry mentor, Pr. Heidi Neumark, was a great inspiration and support to me in my ministry. Several other friends, colleagues, pastors, hearty atheists, random banjo pickers, mysterious individuals, co-workers, bright young lads and lassies, people standing at the crossroads, those struggling with health or domestic situations or learning challenges or mental/emotional illness, those of advanced age whose experiences are present to share or shrouded in the mists of the past, and many, many others. People, making it through their lives, inspire me.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

Genealogy, with a specialty in Scandinavian and Minnesota genealogy. I like finding family, for myself and for others, and reuniting the circles of family that time has drawn apart. I love to cook, play piano, kick puddles, laugh with geese, call out hypocrites (occasionally that includes myself), spend time with friends, and a few dozen other things.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

So many. But among the most memorable meals was a simple meal of a sandwich and chips and birthday cake and ice cream that I was given at a birthday party that I crashed when I was 8 years old. I was riding by on my bike, and stopped to watch kids hit at a piñata. This was in a part of town I was not supposed to go, where immigrant workers from Mexico lived. Soon, I was invited to hit the piñata as well, and then into the home of one whose birthday it was. I was fed and given fun and community, and the experience made a lasting impression on my understanding and appreciation for hospitality. This experience recently made it into a sermon: https://soundcloud.com/user-971848730/america-america-god-mend-thine-every-flaw.

Brief bio

I was born and raised in East Grand Forks, MN, attended high school there, and started a lifelong romance with the piano, which got me through my teenage years in pretty good shape. In college, I was an Aristotelian agnostic, believing in an "immovable mover" of the universe, but not a creator God. I studied Classics, philosophy, music theory, and much more. Later, I was a student at the Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music, where I earned my Masters of Divinity degree, and PLTS in Berkeley, for my Lutheran seminary year. Travel, experience, food, music, and conversation with a wide variety of people have all shaped my life, from living in Germany, briefly, to traveling in Morocco during Ramadan, to living and later doing my ELCA pastoral internship in New York City, to living in an Episcopal monastery for a time, to doing creative work at Holden Village, to singing with the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus for 7 seasons, and much more. I currently (Summer 2017) live in Homewood, IL, and am pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Park Forest, IL.

Did you always want to be clergy?

Always, no. But some have told me that they saw it in my in my early years through the questions I asked in Sunday School. I came to the Lutheran church through searching for a piano when I lived in New York, while I was still mainly an agnostic. Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church let me use their exquisite piano in exchange for playing for a service, and the rest is history. A vibrant call dream at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I had gone to visit retired professor Dr. Bruce Metzger, put me on the path to seminary and has kept me for nearly 15 years of preparation, education, waiting for call, and now, finally a call! Ask me about this dream sometime.

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