The Rev. Matthew L.G. Zickler will be installed as the new pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Western Springs on Sunday, and will lead his first services the following weekend.
A native Hoosier, Zickler replaces Rev. Steve Riordan, who left Grace Lutheran in November 2013 to accept a call to serve as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wildwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Most recently Zickler, who turns 33 in June, served as assistant pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in southwest suburban Oak Lawn.
How Zickler answered the call to become a member of the Lutheran clergy is somewhat unusual. Born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith in a suburb of Indianapolis, he decided to leave Catholicism while completing his undergraduate degree in finance at Indiana University. His decision was based on several areas of conflict between what he believed and the teachings of the Catholic Church, including the authority of Scripture and the doctrine of justification. He began searching for another denomination that emphasized the tenet that Scripture alone has the authority to determine doctrine, and found a new home in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. After that, the leap from religious conversion to active clergy in a new faith just seemed natural to him.
“The pastor who confirmed me often jokes that I was the first person he met who knew he wanted to be a Lutheran pastor before he was even Lutheran,” he said, noting he had considered becoming a priest while he was in high school. Zickler, also known as Pastor Matt, earned his master of divinity and master of sacred theology degrees at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2011. Later that same year, he accepted a call to become an assistant pastor in Oak Lawn.
He was one of 11 potential pastors contacted by Grace Lutheran’s Call Committee about replacing Riordan. That list was ultimately cut to six and narrowed again to three finalists, each of whom was interviewed at length before a recommendation was made to the congregation for a final vote. In the meantime, services at Grace Lutheran were led by interim Pastor Kevin Bergmann
“I have heard so many great things about Western Springs and the congregation,” Zickler said. “My wife (Jessica) and I are really looking forward to making our home there. The loving and caring congregation is a credit to Pastor Riordan and his work there.”
The parish has about 180 to 190 parishioners, and about 80 individuals regularly attend services each week, he said.
Apart from the church, Zickler’s primary interest is spending as much time as possible with his wife and their three children. The family will reside in the parsonage adjacent to the church at 4101 Wolf Road. The May 18 installation ceremony, set for 3 p.m., will be followed at 4:30 p.m. by a reception featuring Zickler and his family.