On April 15, 1977, the Rev. Michael McPherson, his wife Nancy and their two daughters arrived in Buffalo Grove, from Oregon, Ill. Michael, their son, was born a couple of years later.
While in college, McPherson planned to major in history, with a minor in physical education. His grand plan was to be a history teacher, but in his junior year he realized that religion was his calling.
While working on his master's degree of divinity, he did a year of internship in Colorado. After he graduated, he took a call in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as pastor of a newly formed congregation, where he remained for four years.
He was then assigned to this area by the Division for Missions, in North America, a branch of the Lutheran Church. He was told this was a growing area, and that is when his work began.
McPherson said "he knew this is where God wanted him to be," so he started knocking on doors. He once said, "I literally knocked on every door in Buffalo Grove, Prairie View and Long Grove," which turned out be more than 4,000 doors.
Hope Lutheran Church held its first worship service Sept. 11, 1977, at Longfellow school with about 135 people in attendance. The worship services were held there for about a year. From there, Hope Lutheran Church moved to the Buffalo Grove High School cafeteria, with a total of about 180 people attending.
Almost all of the council and committee meetings were held at the pastor's home with Nancy's overwhelming support for this new ministry. Anyone who attended those meetings said Nancy always had the coffee pot going.
On April 16, 1978, the church was officially organized as a congregation of the Lutheran Church of America, and 126 adults signed the charter. At that time, the congregation included 99 children
On Aug. 3, 1980, the church held its ground breaking ceremony for a new building that was to be located on the corner of Arlington Heights Road and Checker Road, in Long Grove, where it stands today. On June 28, 1981, the church celebrated, and praised God with the first worship service in the new building.
By September, 1981, the church had grown to more than 700 baptized members and two services were added to accommodate the growth. With the church growing by leaps and bounds, the Rev. Len Halverson joined the staff in September 1987 as a part-time pastor. Two years later, Halverson left the congregation for his own parish in North Dakota.
On April 10, 1988, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the new addition, which now holds the present sanctuary, along with space for Sunday school classes in the lower level.
Also, in 1988, Hope Lutheran became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, ELCA.
This was truly an exciting time for Hope, with the addition of the Rev. Susan Beadle as an assistant pastor. Pastor Sue was installed Dec. 9, 1990, and the congregation was truly blessed to have had her as part of our church. Pastor Sue is now senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Vernon Hills.
During these many years, McPherson has had significant involvement with the community and has participated with the Interfaith Council, the Clergy for Buffalo Grove Police, Fire Chaplaincy and countless other organizations throughout the area.
During his 35 years at Hope Lutheran, the pastor has held confirmation classes and confirmed 457 young adults, baptized 510 children and adults, with Thomas Curry being the first, on Sept. 18, 1977. The first marriage performed was the marriage of Jeff Larson and Janet Schmidt on Sept. 23, 1978, and since then 233 more.
Yes, Pastor McPherson has been busy, and asked if he had any idea how many meetings he attended, he replied "probably thousands."
On June 23, Hope Lutheran Church will celebrate Pastor McPherson's retirement, with Bishop Wayne Miller conducting the worship service. Following the worship service, an invitation only, off-site luncheon honoring the pastor and Nancy will be held.
On June 30, Pastor McPherson will conduct his last worship service, followed by an outdoor picnic on the church grounds, where the congregation will say their final goodbyes. Anyone interested in attending this event should call the church office at (847) 634-2070.
Pastor McPherson was asked what his plans are for this pending retirement, and he said "he would like to do supply preaching, interim ministry, bird watching and always, lots of fishing."
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