by Barb Mazarakos
Working in the church office is definitely not for the faint of heart. While we may look in the window as we pass by and see the smiling faces of our Office Manager Julie Jancik and Administrative Assistant Jamie Deckinga with an office space that looks well under control, keeping the chaos reigned in is often not as easy at it seems. While both enjoy their jobs and the dear friendships they have made along the way (Jamie in her 11 years here, Julie in her 22), working in the church office does present its fair share of challenges. There are so many events that happen each day, sometimes they have to write down the news of our joys, sadness, transfers, and inquiries on whatever spare paper they can find (just take a look at Jamie’s desk pad if you don’t believe it!) Along with all those events comes the very human side of this job, with emotions flooding at any given time. It’s only natural when you consider how Julie and Jamie have gotten to know so many of us personally that they would rejoice when we celebrate the birth of a new baby or the engagement of a child as well as shed tears over news of a job lost, an illness diagnosed, a death of a member they have prayed for. One of their greatest challenges of their job from Julie’s perspective is that “We are a business office, but we are a church first. Business as in the business world can’t always be done the same way in a church office.”
Fortunately, the ladies both have strong support systems outside of work, each as a wife of over 30 years with a daughter and a son of their own. The lights of Julie’s life are her husband Carl (“He is soooo much the better half”), her daughter Sammi and her significant other Grant, son Jason, and daughter in-law Laurén. Her 3 ½ year old granddaughter Phoebe Faith, who is “more fun than watching TV” won’t be an only granddaughter for long as Jason and Laurén will be adding their own little blessing this fall. “Family is so important” seems to be Julie’s mantra, and she loves nothing more than spending time with them on the water and in the water at her “happy place”, her cottage in Paw Paw, Michigan.
When Jamie is away from work, she loves spending time with her husband Ken, daughter Kayli (a Certified Vet Tech), and her son Nathan, who is beginning his freshman year and playing baseball at Trinity Christian College. To help her decompress after a busy day of answering phones and using what Julie refers to as her “mad typing skills”, Jamie likes to scrapbook, spend time with her family and friends, and watch her guilty pleasure- reality TV. She is also a die-hard Cub fan (though some days that’s not quite as relaxing as her other hobbies!)
Maybe the biggest blessing to the ladies who provide the calm amongst the sometimes-stormy days of church work has been the friendship that has grown between the two of them over the years. When you work in such close proximity to someone and face the ups and downs that come from working in an environment that is predictably unpredictable on a daily basis, you are bound to be drawn together, but what makes their friendship so special is an obvious mutual love and respect for one another. Says Julie of Jamie, “I love Jamie. First and foremost, she is a woman of strong faith and wisdom. She possess’ mad typing skills, she can spell, her grammar is impeccable, she has a strong work ethic and she can handle anything that is thrown on her desk or mine for that matter. I think we make a great team. She makes my job easier; she is my blessing. “And the feelings are certainly mutual. Jamie mirrors those comments by saying, “I appreciate how well we work together and support each other in all aspects of our jobs. I love how we can lift each other up when things are not going well. I appreciate Julie’s friendship, strength, her faith in God, and love for her family and friends. She is a blessing to Christ Lutheran Church and to me.”
There is no doubt that a well-run church is made up of many people, from the Pastor who leads worship and helps guide their congregation through the ups and downs of Christian living to the custodial staff who keeps the building clean and running and the numerous volunteers who teach classes and run committees. But at the heart of all of this- in the place everything filters through- are the “ladies in the office”. How fortunate we are that our “ladies” are such great examples of Christian love, faith, and dedication. They are truly the calm that sets the tone for Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Thanks be to God for their loving examples!
(Part 2 of 2)
by Heather Green
In part one of this series I provided some biographical information about the members of the Stewardship Committee and highlighted our roles within the team. In this part I will explain briefly why each of us has chosen to be on the Stewardship committee.
As I mentioned in part one, the focus of the Stewardship Committee is to share our time and talents with others in the Christian faith. You, the newsletter readers, see the evidence of this in the monthly newsletter as well as the updated website.
Pete Shrank, lifelong member of CELC, is the congregation President and serves as the acting chair of the Stewardship committee. He chose to serve on the Stewardship committee because of the focus on new technology, including social media, and the potential outreach to new and prospective members. Pete has often made the analogy that social media and the website are to Christianity today what the printing press was to Christianity in Martin Luther’s day.
Barb Mazarakos. also a lifelong member of CELC, chose to serve on the Stewardship Committee because she has served in one capacity or another since she was 12-years-old, when she was an aide in Kim Shontz’s Sunday School class. Serving on the Stewardship committee allows her to share her talents for writing, editing, and coordinating team members. Barb manages the social media messages and edits all the newsletter articles each month. She believes that “[God] has a way of bringing everyone right where they should be, and for me, right now, [the Stewardship Committee] is it!”
Heather Green grew up in CELC but moved away in high school. Even when not a member of CELC, Heather served as a Sunday School teacher and was very active in her church in Virginia. When she returned to CELC, she had a preemie baby to take care of so volunteer opportunities were limited. Barb extended an invitation to write for the newsletter and Heather accepted. She has always loved writing and by contributing an article to the newsletter each month, Heather gets to share her talent as well as her faith with others.
Chris Chleboun continues to serve on the committee long-distance when a new job required a transfer. She compiles the newsletter for distribution every month, sharing her talent for technology and design. Chris also grew up at Christ Lutheran and has volunteered her time in several areas around the church, including VOYAGERS, music, and following in her dad’s footsteps as an usher.
Dean Porzel occasionally writes for the newsletter but his big contributions are behind the scenes maintaining and updating the Church website. Serving on the Stewardship committee, for Dean, is another opportunity to share his time and talents with others. You may best recognize Dean for his wonderful musical talent, both vocally and as a guitarist with Joy and Praise.
If you are interested in learning more about the Stewardship Committee, would like to contribute an article, or have an idea for a topic you’d like us to cover, please reach out to Barb Mazarakos at firstname.lastname@example.org . You never know when God may have a new direction for YOUR time and talent!
by Pete Schrank
As the season of summer moves to my wife’s favorite season, fall, we get back into the swing of things. Weekday School begins and the teachers, students, and support staff start getting back to the important tasks of learning. In the church, we get back to Sunday School, Choir practice, added services, Bible Study, Book Club and Confirmation instruction. Taking a break from weekly Church attendance due to vacations, sports, or a summer home is now put aside.
After the summer break, the Christ Choir, Cherub Choir, Youth Choir, Men’s Chorus, Handbell Choir, Junior Chimers, and Youth Orchestra all get back to making a joyful noise. I think that expression is perfect for what we should be doing in Church. There are many serious parts of the Church year, like Lent and Holy Week, but the overall mood and spirit of worship should be one of joy. We have been saved from a well-deserved eternity of pain and suffering in Hell. We can do nothing to win our own salvation as Christ has done it all for us.
The youth of Christ Lutheran do a fantastic job growing their young faith. They chime and sing praises to God, Christ Jesus, and all the saints of the Church. In recent years, it has been encouraging to see the young men participate in CELC music. Years ago, there were very few male members in Youth Choir, but these days we have very talented male performers. I even sang in the youth choir a lifetime ago! The Handbell and Adult Choirs allow us to share our talents, great or small, with God and our fellow worshippers.
Our Music Director, Sandy Knopp, provides the leadership for all the groups listed above. Her talent for piano and organ as well as her vocal skills are truly a blessing to all who attend worship. The biggest, and perhaps the best, “Joyful Noise” maker we have in Church is the pipe organ in the balcony. It has 1320 pipes! There are really three organs; the Hauptwerk, the Pedalwerk, and the Positiv organs. This masterpiece of old-world craftsmanship is patterned after European pipe organs built hundreds of years ago. Materials used to build and voice the organ came from both Germany and the US. In order to “voice” the organ (tune the organ), it took the church over one month to complete. From the 1975 organ dedication: “The intent of the organ builder is to give Christ Lutheran Church an organ fully capable of leading the congregation in joyful worship of God through active singing of the liturgy and hymns, through balanced accompaniment of the choir, solo voices, or other musical instruments.”
We look forward to a new year of joyful noise at each and every worship service!
by Barb Mazarakos
We’ve all heard the old joke about Pastors only working one day a week. However you only need to spend a few minutes speaking with any member of clergy to know that statement couldn’t be more wrong. Around planning and leading worship services there are visits to hospitals and homebound members, baptisms, weddings, Bible studies to lead, and meetings to attend-and this only scratches the surface. We know that the fourth commandment tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” which leads me to wonder- since many people interpret the Sabbath Day as Sunday, when do Pastors rest?
If we look at the true spirit of keeping the Sabbath, we might realize that it doesn’t specifically have to be a Sunday, though that is what tradition would lead us to think. What we really are meant to do is to take one day a week (at least!) to cease our work for the purpose of earning a living and spend it in God’s Word. Honoring the Sabbath this way is to be a testimony that God is enough to meet our needs. It doesn’t matter how much we labor or how much we earn; without God, none of it will ever be enough. So, we are to take a day each week just to relish in Him- in His goodness, in the ways He has blessed our lives, and in service and mercy to others.
Therefore, many members of the clergy try to take a “day off” (if that’s possible!) during the week. Not only do our pastors need to do this to live the example they preach to us on Sunday morning, but they need the time to relax, refresh, and remember God’s works in their own lives. In a time when modern technology lends to us the expectation that anyone with a phone should be available to us 24 hours a day to answer even our smallest needs, we tend to sometimes be unreasonable in our expectations of our pastors as well. When we feel bad or have a family emergency or just have a question we want answered (or need an article for an upcoming newsletter!) we may feel put off if we don’t get an instant response. And rest assured, whenever possible in times of emergency, pastors will do all they can to respond to you quickly. But occasionally, if it takes a little longer to get that email response you were hoping for, just remember- our pastors need their recharge as well. How else can we expect them to lead us by example if we don’t allow them to remember the Sabbath each week as well?
by Heather Green
In today’s society where we have come to expect instant gratification, much thanks to the Internet, social media, and superstores which are open 24/7/365, it seems an anomaly to think that any business is closed on Sunday. Even Amazon delivers on Sundays and Holidays, including Christmas Day and Easter Day. Some businesses, such as Sam’s Club and Costco do observe religious holidays, but it seems to be more the norm that businesses, restaurants included, are subscribing to the trend to be open regardless what the day or date is on the calendar.
It used to be that car dealerships were closed on Sundays, as well as furniture stores, and alcohol sales were limited on Sunday. But even they have transitioned to being open regardless of the day. That’s why there are two businesses in particular that stand out as being different: Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A.
Hobby Lobby has come under fire many times in the media for its strictly conservative views. They express their devout Christian values in the merchandise they sell, as well as the options for their employees’ benefits packages. The company’s mission statement begins with “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles,” and ends with, “we believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future.”
Chick-fil-A has also come under heavy criticism in recent news for being anti LGBTQ groups, and despite the fact they are widely supportive of the military and first responders, they rarely get the positive recognition they deserve. Each franchise of the chain is expected to follow the tenet that “All Operators and their Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so…That’s why all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays. It’s part of our recipe for success.”
This is not to say that a lot of small businesses are not closed on Sunday. There are numerous “Mom and Pop” stores, such as Golden Shoes in Palos Heights that still observe the old tradition of being closed on Sunday. If recent trends continue, we can only wonder if all stores will have to be open on Sunday to remain competitive and if the success of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are merely anomalies to this trend.