History of NSMC
The history prior to 2002 was presented by Patty Yordy—one of the founding members of the church—at David Kerner’s installation on September 22, 2002.
In 1983, Joe and Emma Richards of the Lombard Mennonite Church encouraged four couples who attended their church to be a Mennonite witness and presence where they lived in the far northern suburbs of Chicago. The four couples began meeting on Sunday evenings for Bible study. In 1984, the group decided to start a church and by February 1985, they began worshipping together on Sunday evenings in homes, calling themselves the North Suburban Mennonite Fellowship. With the support of Lombard Mennonite Church, the small church began looking for a building and a pastor.
By 1986, they were meeting in the Coldwell Banker Realty community room in Mundelein. Keith Espenshade, a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity Seminary, served as a half-time pastor for one and a half years. From Coldwell Banker Realty, the church moved to Lincoln Elementary School in 1987, where they were able to display their own sign. With a newly organized Church Council and Christian education program, the group was officially recognized as a Fellowship by the Illinois Mennonite Conference.
When the rent at Lincoln School became too much, the fellowship moved back to the Coldwell Banker building. Although Lombard Mennonite Church furnished a speaker once a month, the group continually struggled with finding a building, a pastor, and Sunday morning speakers. Participants in the young church took turns preaching. By 1989, the group went back to meeting in homes and Norma Peters Duerkson, a member of the fellowship, preached twice a month.
In 1990, David Myers, a pastor of Oak Park Mennonite Church (now the Chicago Community Mennonite Church), took on a quarter-time ministry with the group while continuing his work at Oak Park, preaching at North Suburban one Sunday a month. During his one year tenure, he organized committees and helped the group develop a Confession of Faith, a Membership Covenant, and a strong sense of consensus. David also sought a more permanent meeting place for the church, resulting in a long-term sharing relationship with Faith Lutheran Church (now The Chapel) in Mundelein. The newly named North Suburban Mennonite Church was accepted into the Illinois Mennonite and Central District conferences. David arranged to have Uli Klemm preach twice a month for three months while pastoring a small church in Chicago. After Uli left, Jenny Schrock from Lombard preached twice a month for six months. After David’s departure in the summer of 1991, Tom Westing, a member of the group, preached frequently.
In January 1993, Dorothy Kratz accepted the call to be a pastor of North Suburban Mennonite Church in a two-thirds time position. Her husband, Jim, preached once a month on a volunteer basis. Under Dorothy’s leadership, the church added more committees, wrote a constitution, became more involved in activities such as the PADS (Public Action in Deliver Shelter) ministry. She initiated a weekly Bible study and men’s and women’s groups. When Dorothy retired in December 1995, the congregation called David Kerner to serve as a half-time interim pastor while continuing his studies at Trinity Seminary.
In October 1996, Bob Shuford, who had been living in Evanston and serving as a full-time pastoral staff at Reba Place Church, was installed as the first full-time pastor. Bob and his wife Lois continued for personal reasons to live in Evanston, with Bob commuting three weekdays and Sundays to Mundelein. During Bob’s tenure at North Suburban, he was instrumental in getting our youth program off the ground by establishing regular meetings and activities for the youth group and welcoming new members with a celebration of passage. A men’s group began meeting together. Bob brought a strong spiritual feeling to worship and his chaplaincy experience had a positive impact on the entire congregation. On the administrative side, he brought order to the office and connected all of us together with e-mail. Under Bob’s guidance, our congregation began hosting an annual Ten Thousand Villages sale.
In 1997, North Suburban grew out of its church-plant status in both the Illinois Mennonite Conference and the Central District Conference. The church applied for and was accepted for membership in the General Conference Mennonite Church (now Mennonite Church USA).
Change of Location
Faith Lutheran Church, in the spring of 1999, decided to add a second worship service, which necessitated our departure. Under Bob’s guidance, discussions about purchasing property or a building resumed and a building committee was formed. After locating several possibilities, the church voted to move to Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church, about a half mile from Faith Lutheran. Bob organized and ensured a smooth move from one place to another. On April 11, 1999, North Suburban had its first worship service at the new location.
In August 1999, Bob resigned to pursue a residency and position as a hospital chaplain. During the interim period after Bob’s departure, we appreciated the many guest speakers who enriched our worship services.
In June 2002, David Kerner, who had once been an interim pastor at NSMC, accepted our call to become pastor. With David’s strong theological background, we experienced a renewal of spirituality and Biblical study. David and his family enriched us in many ways with their talents and spiritual guidance. In February 2005, David accepted the call to be pastor at First Church of the Brethren in Ashland, Ohio.
Another Change of Location
With space and time constraints at Kirk of the Lake, it became necessary to relocate again. On August 7, 2005, we had our first worship service at the Libertyville Civic Center in downtown Libertyville.
Mark Vincent Leads a Pastoral Team
In October 2005, Mark Vincent, Anne Munley, and Chuck Swan, accepted our call to be our pastoral team with Mark as lead pastor and Anne and Chuck as pastoral interns. With Mark’s help, we moved toward a church structure that helped us implement our vision of being a Christ-centered community, embodying Christ-like compassion, and living with Christ-led courage. His guidance reinvigorated our worship services, small group interactions, and mission efforts in the community.
Linda Wiens, another member of our congregation, joined the pastoral team in 2007. In February 2008, Roland Kuhl became the newest member of the NSMC pastoral team. In September 2008, Linda Wiens left the pastoral team because she became chair of the church board.
In June 2009, Roland Kuhl became lead pastor of North Suburban as Mark Vincent transitioned away to other opportunities. We signed a lease for a Mennonite Ministries office in Libertyville and interns Scott Kempf, Laura Good, and Ric Hudgens have enriched our congregation with their unique gifts. In June 2010, we hosted a 25th anniversary celebration with two days of reminiscing, renewal, stories, and worship.
Roland continues to guide us in becoming a missional church, listening to become aware of the work God is doing around us, and seeking to participate with God in God’s mission.
Expansion of Pastoral Team
Anne Munley and James Hamrick joined the pastoral team in May 2012, providing leadership and helping us to discern God’s mission in the world.
In December 2012, Julie Dodds began serving as a pastoral intern.
Pastoral Team of Two
In August 2014, Roland Kuhl and Anne Munley became our pastoral team of two after James Hamrick and Julie Dodds decided to pursue different directions. Kate Ackley, our current administrative assistant, will take on additional responsibilities as Ministries Coordinator.
Pastoral Team Transition
In July 2015, Roland Kuhl decided to leave NSMC to pursue other community ministries. During his tenure at NSMC, we learned to be a missional church, becoming aware of Christ’s presence in our daily lives and the lives of the people around us, and working to participate with God in God’s mission. Anne Munley took over leadership of the pastoral staff.
Anne Munley and Ric Hudgens
In September 2016, Ric Hudgens joined Anne Munley on the NSMC pastoral team.
Retirement of Ric Hudgens
In August 2021, Ric Hudgens retired.
New Pastoral Intern
Shane O’Leary joined the NSMC pastoral team in 2022.
In a creative arrangement with Christ Community Mennonite Church, Suzanne Ford became lead pastor at CCMC and part of the NSMC pastoral team in 2023.