Nurturing Faith and Community: Learn About Pilgrim Lutheran Church

Rooted in Faith, United in Purpose.

Our Story

Welcome to Pilgrim Lutheran Church, a vibrant and inclusive community dedicated to embracing the transformative power of faith. Our history is woven with a deep commitment to spiritual growth, compassion, and unity. At the heart of our congregation is a diverse family of individuals who come together to worship, learn, and support one another.
Through meaningful worship services, engaging educational programs, and outreach initiatives, we strive to foster an environment where everyone can discover their purpose and connect with others on their spiritual journey.

Join us in our pursuit of love, understanding, and shared devotion as we continue to build a welcoming haven for all who seek a closer relationship with God.

Pilgrim is led by our Church Council.

Church Council

— Jim Volkens (President)
— Open (Vice President)
— David Gilbert (Treasurer)
— Mark Haeseler (Administrator)
— Kristian Johnson (Pastor)
— Tarah Dickerson (Secretary)
— Janine Gustafson
— Cheryl Saiki
— Scott Sexton
— Monique Stinson
— Brian Twohig

Meet Our Church Leadership Team.

Our History

In 1912, Pilgrim was founded as a congregation that would worship in English, not German (like many other Lutheran Churches in their denomination.)

In 1920, the school started in the basement of the church building on Cuyler and Wolcott, serving grades K-8. In 1921, the congregation built a two story school building on Cullom and Winchester. Pilgrim Church continued to meet at Cuyler and Wolcott.

Near the middle of the twentieth century, the school peaked at an enrollment of over 250 children. By 1950 the members had raised $250,000, and the new structure was completed the following year.

In the late 1970s the Pilgrim Church left the LCMS over a difference of opinion regarding inclusion and biblical interpretation. When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed in 1988, Pilgrim joined that new movement.

In 1992, Pilgrim founded a lunch program called “Hot Meals” that serves neighbors affected by hunger, poverty, and homelessness was initiated that continues to this day.

In recent years, Pilgrim has continued to expand its local and global partnerships and start active small group, care, and prayer ministries. We also became an “RIC” (Reconciling in Christ) church and school, fully welcoming and affirming to all in the LGBTQIA+ community. We are committed to embodying our mission to gather, prepare, and send all as leaders for God’s mission in the world!

Our Beliefs at Pilgrim Lutheran Church.

What We Believe

We believe the most powerful force in the universe is Love. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them.”
– 1 John 4:16

God created and loves all of creation: the earth and the seas and all of the world’s inhabitants.

Jesus transforms lives through his death on the cross and his new life, having birthed a movement that is world-wide, inclusive, and life-changing!

The Holy Spirit is still speaking, healing, reconciling, and empowering us to do God’s work with our hands!

When we study the Bible or hear God’s word in worship, we are drawn more deeply into God’s own saving story. We believe that faith leads to service AND advocacy inspired by God’s vision of shalom for all peoples.

We believe in our mission to gather, prepare, and send all as leaders for God’s mission in the world!

“God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.”
Mother Teresa

Meet Our Church Leadership Team.

Church Leadership

Pastor Kristian Johnson
My family and I love it here at Pilgrim! I’ve been blessed to serve as Pastor here since November of 2012. Originally from Minnesota, I graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN as a Music Major and received my M. Div from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

Before coming to Pilgrim, I served as a youth minister on the north side of Chicago for five years, and have spent significant time learning and serving among Christians in Tanzania, East Africa and El Salvador, Central America. I served my first call as Pastor of First Lutheran Church/Iglesia Luterana Mi Salvador in Inglewood (Los Angeles) CA for six years, and helped the congregation triple in size and start a ministry in Spanish. My hobbies include: tuba, basketball, camping, and traveling. I am blessed with an amazing family!

My wife is also an ordained Pastor and serves as the Associate Director for Congregational Vitality for the ELCA. We are blessed with three kids: daughter Hope, son Emanuel, and son Xavier.