Call Committee Update

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Calls
Pastor Sarah W. Rohde to Serve as Lead Pastor

In June of 2018, a Lead Pastor Call Team was formed to seek a new Lead Pastor, following the departure of Pastor Mark Larson in May of 2017.  Call Team members included Megan Baxter, Linda Bell, Joe Boyle, Craig Collins, Steve McIntire, Ryan Soule, and Shannon von Essen.

Since December of 2018, working closely with the Chicago Metropolitan Synod, the Call Team reviewed nearly twenty candidate files, held first-round interviews with nine candidates, and conducted second-round interviews with five candidates.  Candidates from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas were interviewed.

This past October, Pastor Sarah Rohde, currently serving as Associate Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, notified the Call Team that she was interested in being considered for the Lead Pastor position.  Up until this point in time, the Call Team was continuing to interview candidates.  The Call Team asked Pastor Rohde to go through the same rigorous scrutiny as other candidates.  After careful deliberation, the Call Team in early November recommended to the Church Council that Pastor Rohde be called as Lead Pastor.  The Church Council then interviewed Pastor Rohde and unanimously recommended that a special congregational meeting be held on Sunday, December 8, to consider calling Pastor Rohde as Lead Pastor.  At the congregational meeting on December 8, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to call Pastor Rohde as Lead Pastor.  Following notification of the congregational vote, Pastor Rohde indicated she was prepared to accept the call as Lead Pastor.  As a result, Pastor Rohde will be installed as Lead Pastor at a special worship service at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 23, 2020, in the sanctuary at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.  

Pastor Rohde was born in South Dakota.  She grew up in South Dakota and Minnesota, as her father, an ELCA pastor, served congregations in both states. Pastor Rohde graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. degree in Religion, Music, and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.  After graduation, she spent a year in Mexico working in an ELCA global mission project supporting health education and economic empowerment for women. Prior to seminary she worked for the ELCA in Chicago as a global service recruiter, promoting global service opportunities for young adults through college and church visits. Her seminary internship was completed at Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City.  For the past six years, she has served as Associate Pastor at Bethlehem.

Pastor Rohde is married and has two sons, Benjamin (3) and Owen (1).  Her husband, Andrew, is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Believing that the Holy Spirit has been at work throughout the call process so far, the Call Team and the Church Council believe Pastor Rohde’s gifts, talents, and personal attributes will inspire and nourish Bethlehem as we move on to the next exciting chapter in the life of our congregation.