Grace United Methodist Has New Leadership, Expanded Direction

Lake Bluff church opens its doors to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities.


A South Dakota native who was raised Lutheran until he converted to Methodist at the age of 16, David Aslesen has experienced his own personal evolution that led him to the ministry.

“A variety of people and paths have shaped my call,” Aslesen said. “I've understood vocation as something that you cannot not do, and this definition speaks to my relationship with God, and the call to leadership, service and relationship.”

Aslesen, 41, took over July 1 as pastor at . He replaces Debbie Fisher, who recently retired.

The church itself has undergone some of its own changes prior to Aslesen’s arrival. In April, church members voted overwhelmingly to become a reconciling congregation, which according Aslesen, is “making a public statement welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

“It was a faithful part of evolution as an accepting, justice-seeking and loving congregation serving its members, neighbors, community and world,” he said. “In a time when youth and young adults are bullied for being gay or lesbian or when equal rights and protections for minority persons, individuals and couples are being debated nationally and internationally, the congregation took the bold step of saying we welcome all and we are in ministry with all.”

According to the Reconciling Ministries Network, more than 500 Methodist churches have undergone the reconciling process. Aslesen welcomes this opportunity to extend the church’s message.

 “I have experience sharing the good news of Christ Jesus with any and all people regardless of the boundaries or restrictions we as humans construct with our prejudices, fears or ignorance,” he said.

Aslesen majored in premed, philosophy and religion in college and spent his free time acting and directing. He served for the past six years in Rockland, Ill., and previously in Glenview, Chicago and Riverside churches. He said he “fell in love with the ministries of the churches in the Chicagoland area” while completing training at Garrett Evangelical Seminary School from 1993-96.]

In addition to Aslesen’s hiring, Grace United Methodist Church has added Christine Hides as director of Christian education, and Joseph Agnew as music director.

“I am thrilled at the depth of involvement and leadership here at the church already,” Aslesen said. “It is a gift to come in and see the energy and work with new appointments.”

Grace Methodist’s congregation numbers approximately 350 members, according to Aslesen, who looks forward to forging new relationships.

“I hope to develop more intergenerational ministries; to nurture current families and provide an openness to receive new people; and, I want to speak to the hearts and lives of those broken,” Aslesen said.

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David Harley July 20, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Just to clarify the story a bit here, as a member of Grace, but living in another Country -- SC and Switzerland -- the "doors" have always been open to ALL people, at least in the 14 years I've been a member.
Jim Powers July 20, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Thanks, David, for your comment.
David Aslesen July 21, 2012 at 01:24 PM
David Harley...thanks for the note! I am glad to know the legacy of open doors at Grace UMC. Blessings to you in SC or Switzerland! Peace, David Aslesen Jim Powers...thank you for the story! Blessings on your next adventure. David Aslesen
Barbara Allen Pigg July 21, 2012 at 02:46 PM
A well-written and wonderful article and Grace is incredibly fortunate to have such talented leadership. Grace United Methodist in Lake Bluff is a wonderful place to find fellowship and fun while honing your Christian chops - Serve Your World, Grace Your Life!
Carolyn Warden July 21, 2012 at 04:02 PM
David, unfortunately not all Methodist Congragations Walk the Talk. For example GW Bush claims to be a practicing Methodist. So glad you have a positive experience, because He intends everyone to have that.


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