Kenilworth Union Church pastor settles into new role

If you ask Rev. William A. Evertsberg, newly appointed senior pastor at Kenilworth Union Church, what his hobbies are, you’ll likely hear an immediate, “Books, bikes and barks!” Evertsberg, who joined Kenilworth Union Church on March 1, has settled into his new role after serving as a minister on the East Coast. A KUC search committee announced Evertsberg’s appointment last November. Of dogs, many KUC members have grown fond of Evertsberg’s golden retriever Dudley. About books, Evertsberg is reading “Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity” by Andrew Solomon. His passion for cycling includes road bikes, pedal driven not motorized.

Evertsberg, originally from Grand Rapids, Mich., and his wife Kathy have been married 33 years. They have two children Michael, 26, and Taylor, 21. His most recent senior minister post was with the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, Conn. where he began serving in 1997. He was also head of staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. and associate minister at the Abington Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania.

Evertsberg received his doctorate of ministry and master’s of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1985. Meet Rev. William A. Evertsberg who loves poetry, opera, great films and live theatre. “Les Miserables” is his “ all-time favorite.” Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” has Evertsberg asking who best interpreted the role of Willy Loman. Is it Brian Dennehy or Philip Seymour Hoffman? Share your thoughts with Evertsberg, who welcomes all to Kenilworth Union Church, a congregation since the 1890s. Visit www.kuc.org.

Q. So how has it been since joining Kenilworth Union Church?

A. It’s been very good. I’ll tell you the two most pleasant surprises are the congregation and the staff that I have worked with. I’ve been 17 years in the same place which is a long time. It’s a sizable ministry in our tradition so it was hard to leave my old home. And when you come to an unknown place, you don’t know what’s waiting for you there but the two most pleasant surprises were the quality of the staff that’s been here for, in some cases, many years and the warm welcome of the congregation. So that’s been really gratifying.

Q. Becoming a part of the KUC family. How does that happen for you?

A. Well, I think by doing my job well and bringing them the Good News of the Gospel. Loving them in their hours of transition. Probably the most gratifying thing about being a Christian pastor is that you walk with people through times of joy and also times of grief. The transition periods. Baptisms. Births. Deaths. Grieving. I am a Presbyterian minister by ordination. And now for the first time, I have come to this non-denominational community. So that’s a very interesting thing too. It really is a beautiful campus. They have done a beautiful job of stewarding the facility gifts that previous generations have endowed to them so that’s a privilege too.

Q. Talk about the joy.

A. The joy is the fact that I get to spend about 20 hours a week in study and scholarship preparing my sermons and also walking with people throughout their times of joy, birth, death, funerals … weddings. I get to watch the love of a young couple as they are preparing for their wedding. So that’s the greatest joy that I have.

Q. What are the common bonds you see among all people?

A. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. We’re all human. We’re all flesh and blood. We all suffer. And so, these folks need a shepherd as well to walk with them through difficult times. Bad news. Poor diagnoses. The loss of a long love. Those kinds of things.

Q. What is the role of Kenilworth Union Church?

A. There are only two churches in Kenilworth. It’s a very small town obviously. But there are only two churches. We’re right across the street from each other. The Church of the Holy Comforter across the way. So this has been, with my colleagues across the street, the faith family for the people of Kenilworth, and also by extension, Wilmette, Winnetka, most of our members come from those communities. It’s been that way for over a hundred years since 1892.

Q. Is it an incredible opportunity to serve North Shore neighbors?

A. It really is. It’s a gift from God and a privilege from these people that they would honor me, trust me to take care of the Gospel for them, to take care of their families at difficult and beautiful times.

Q. So what do you bring to KUC besides Dudley?

A. Besides Dudley! You know, they called me to get my wife and my dog! They didn’t call me because they wanted me! There’s a nursery school in our building so he’s been a big hit with the 3- and 4-year-olds. I like to think I bring a level of competence to the preaching of the Word. And I like to think that my faith in Jesus is contagious.

Q. What’s your message to the community?

A. Come to Kenilworth Union and hear the Gospel preached faithfully and we hope eloquently every Sunday morning. We are extremely devoted to serving people who are unlike us. This is an affluent congregation. There is no doubt about it. But we serve the City of Chicago and the City of Evanston. And we make a big point of trying to serve the kinds of people Jesus would have spent his time hanging out with. We know Jesus wouldn’t have spent a lot of time with people like us so we try to go where Jesus would go.

Karie Angell Luc. “Kenilworth Union Church pastor settles into new role.” Pioneer Press Date: June 18, 2014, People, June 18, 2014 <http://wilmette.suntimes.com/2014/06/18/kenilworth-union-church-pastor-settles-new-role/>