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Pastor Johnson was born in Lafayette, Indiana and grew up in West Lafayette near Purdue University’s campus. He went to Indiana University as a music performance major in Classical Guitar and changed to Linguistics and Spanish. He attended Dallas Theological Seminary where he graduated with a ThM with an emphasis in intercultural church planting.

He served several church plants in Texas and Sweden before he was called to plant Christ the King Presbyterian Church in El Paso, Texas which still thrives today. He also received an MA from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana in order to transfer his credentials to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Churches he has served include:

  • Saint Luke Lutheran Church (Wheaton, KS)
  • Saint Paul Lutheran Church (Melrose Park, IL)

In May of 2010, he received a Doctorate in Ministry from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago with an emphasis in urban preaching. He and his wife Johanna have three children: Natalie (16), Daniel (14), and Joseph (11). Johanna teaches private piano and brass. And the whole family enjoys music including voice, piano, French horn, guitar, oboe, English horn, trombone, trumpet, and flute.

Pastor Johnson was installed on May 8, 2011. "My hope and prayer is to partner with the people at First Saint Paul's in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Chicagoland community. As Christians we have a treasure trove of hope, meaning, and assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. Come by and visit us for worship or drop by the church office. You are always welcome and I look forward to meeting you."

Laurie Bart
Church Secretary
Mon-Fri 8:30 - 12:00 noon

Laurie Bart graduated from Concordia University Chicago in 2011 with a degree in English. Since graduating, Laurie worked in Concordia's Public Safety Department as the Dispatch Supervisor and Lieutenant of Communications until February of 2015, when she accepted the position of part-time Church Secretary here at First Saint Paul's.  Laurie and her husband, John, have been members at First Saint Paul's since 2013. Both sing in the choir. Laurie is also an active oboist and regularly plays, along with other talented musicians, for our services and seasonal concerts.



Steven Wente is the cantor at First Saint Paul's. An active church musician for many years, he also is professor of music and organist to the chapel at Concordia University Chicago, located in River Forest, Illinois, where he teaches organ, music history, and serves as chair of the department.

He holds undergraduate and master's degrees from his alma mater and a doctorate in organ performance from Northwestern University. His organ teachers have included David J. Wilson, Herbert Gotsch, Robert Lodine, Richard Enright, and Wolfgang Rübsam. 

Dr. Wente is active as a workshop leader and recitalist, having appeared in various locations throughout the country. He has been a service organist for national events of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALMC) and for the national worship conferences of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He was a contributor to the recently published revision of Key Words in Church Music and to the Festschrift Thine the Praise: Essays of Lutheran Church Music in Honor of Carl Schalk.

His wife Susan is also a graduate of Concordia, River Forest, with BA and MCM degrees. They have two adult children, Margaret Danilovich, a physical therapist and the organist at First Saint Paul's, and Karla, who is also a physical therapist in Chicago.


Assistant Cantor

Margaret Danilovich has played organ at First Saint Paul's since the fall of 2009.  Margaret attended Concordia University-River Forest where her piano teachers included Craig Sale, Daniela Mineva, and Kuang-Hao Huang.  She studied organ with Steven Wente. 

During college, she was an active recitalist, accompanist, and sang with the Kapelle choir.  Margaret earned a doctorate in physical therapy from
Northwestern University
in 2007 and currently is a physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Emeritus Pastor

Pastor Delayne Pauling attended Concordia College (now Concordia University) Saint Paul, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Saint Louis. Early in his career, he served as a student chaplain in Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Upon graduation, pastor was assigned as missionary-at-large to the Lutheran Church of Bloomfield Township, an LCMS mission church in suburban Detroit. Under his direction, the church grew, relocated, built a new building, and became Cross of Christ Lutheran Church.

He accepted a call as senior pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Glen Ellen. Later he accepted an executive position at Carson Pirie Scott & Company in Chicago's loop, while becoming a worker-priest pastor actively involved in student ministry.

Pastor Pauling returned to the ministry full time in 1979, and accepted the challenge of starting a LCMS mission church in Downers Grove. The church grew, and became Cross of Christ Lutheran Church.

First Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church called him to be senior pastor in 1982. He accepted the call, and was instrumental in starting the community meals program held on Saturdays for those less fortunate in our area. After serving the congregation for twenty-three years, he retired in June 2005, and was granted emeritus status. Rather than the congregation presenting him with a gift at retirement, pastor asked the funds be redirected toward a major landscaping project that is currently underway.

Churches he served include:

  • Cross of Christ Lutheran Church (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
  • Cross of Christ Lutheran Church (Downers Grove, IL)
  • First Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church (Chicago)
  • Gloria Christi Lutheran Church (Northwestern University, Evanston IL)
  • Grace Lutheran Church (Glen Ellyn, IL)
  • Saint Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church (Huntington, Long Island NY)