Elgin Methodist churches have new pastors

  • Rev. Robert Sathuri

    Rev. Robert Sathuri

  • Rev. Roger Zavala

    Rev. Roger Zavala

Updated 10/24/2011 11:33 AM

Two Elgin congregations recently welcomed new pastors who hail from far and wide. First United Methodist Church welcomed the Rev. Robert Sathuri from Hyderabad, India, while Wesley United Methodist welcomed the Rev. Roger Zavala from Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua.

Most interesting résumé points: During college, Sathuri was a passionate cricket player and did play-by-play announcing for cricket and basketball broadcasts. Zavala was a seminary president for the American Baptist denomination.


Sathuri grew up in India as a second-generation Christian. The family attended a Methodist church, but there came a time in high school when Sathuri purposefully committed himself to Jesus at a Youth for Christ meeting.

He earned a degree in commerce and banking and two master's degrees in philosophy, then entered a doctoral program in comparative religion. Not knowing if or when they would return home again, Sathuri and his wife, Teresa, came to Illinois in 1994 so he could attend Evanston's Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

"I had a deep desire to serve the church, whether here in the U.S. or back in India," Sathuri said. "I was open to however God's spirit would lead."

Elgin is his third ministerial appointment in 12 years, and he hopes to have a long stay. His focus is on encouraging his congregation to be "agents of transformation" in the community.

"I've been asking every baptized Christian to claim ownership that we are the representation of God's love here on the face of the earth," he said.

First United Methodist also has welcomed a new assistant pastor, the Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer, who was born in Chile.

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At Wesley, where Zavala says "only a few" members are Hispanic, the new pastor finds himself challenged by his first full-time Anglo ministry -- especially by giving a sermon in his second language.

But the congregation, set in an area that's more than 50 percent Hispanic, is intentionally trying to reach out to its neighbors.

"Probably this is one of the reasons why I was invited to come," Zavala said.

After graduating from seminary in Managua, Zavala pastored a few Latin American congregations before returning to his alma mater as president for 10 years. He came to Lombard to get his doctorate, then found he couldn't go home.

"After some years, it became difficult for me to go back to my country," Zavala said. "The spaces for work were very limited."

With a family to support, he found the United Methodists offered more opportunities for Hispanic ministry than the American Baptists did. Zavala helped with a UM outreach in Des Plaines and, after making the denominational move official, shepherded two other congregations before he and his wife, Flor, came to Elgin.


"(Pastoring an Anglo congregation is) a very good opportunity for me to be immersed in the American culture," Zavala said. "If I am going to live in this country, it is important to be involved speaking English and knowing the families."

Also in the area:

• Although freedom of religion was one of our Founding Fathers' basic values, Christians in dozens of other countries live under the real threats of arrest, torture and death.

Hosanna! Lutheran Church, 36W925 Red Gate Road, St. Charles, will host a free informational workshop titled "What, Persecution?" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Former missionary Roy Stults, now a staff member with Voice of the Martyrs, will give more details about what's been happening and how to support these Christians in grave danger.

• In 1894, a Hungarian rabbi who came to believe Jesus actually is the Messiah founded Chosen People Ministries, an organization that continues speaking the message of salvation in Jesus "to the Jew first and to the Gentile" all over the world.

Justin Kron, a representative of CPM, will speak at Elgin Bible Church, 1580 E. Chicago St., during the worship service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The Christian and Jewish communities, as well as everyone else, are invited to attend.

• What's more fun than trick-or-treating this time of year? How about Trunk or Treating?

Elgin's Church in the Word, 430 Airport Road, will line up dozens of theme-decorated cars from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday so costumed kids can open up their bags from trunk to trunk. Besides plenty of candy, the church will offer games, inflatables, face painting, live music by Candlelit Relief, and free food for everyone.

• The calendar says we have a comfortable 60 shopping days until Christmas, but, of course, you can never start too early. Here are some opportunities to check out:

"One Stop Shop," 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 at Faith Community Church, 10547 Faiths Way, Huntley, features an assortment of vendors and crafters, plus a bake sale. A portion of each purchase will be donated to the Faith Community Food Pantry. Shoppers are invited to stay for the new 5 p.m. worship service.

Art auction, at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at Congregational Church of Algonquin, 109 Washington St., to fund the congregation's ministries. More than 200 pieces by recognized artists -- original oils, watercolors, lithographs and others, all matted and framed -- will be auctioned by state of the Art Fundraising Art Auctions. Bids start below retail gallery prices. Admission is $5 per person or $8 per couple.

Fair Trade Sale, noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 25; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 26; and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 27 at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 845 W. Main St., West Dundee.

With 20 different Third World countries represented, you can buy chocolates, jewelry, Christmas décor, handmade baskets, children's gifts and religious articles.

Proceeds will benefit local families in need.

• "In the Spirit" covers churches and synagogues in the Fox Valley area; contact cmchojnacki@yahoo.com to submit information.

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