Who We Are

We are a community of people growing in grace as we grow together in faith.

In 1970 a group of people began knocking on doors inviting their neighbors to be part of a new church in Valparaiso and so began Christ Lutheran Church. From our first Sunday in a funeral home to our worship services in the VFW Legion Hall, we have been a church that loves our community and understands the importance of being present where God has planted us. When the Lord provided our new church home on Campbell St., the early church body came together to break the ground and literally planted wheat seeds that would turn into many years of fruitful harvest to come.

Our story has been defined by just that: planting, growing and expanding. Whether it’s through serving thousands of children over the years at Little Lamb Preschool, or serving the many young adults in our CLC Youth Ministries, we have a passion to be a place where entire families can grow together in faith and grow together in grace.

We are a church that says, “YES!” From serving the less fortunate in our community by partnering with the Men’s Shelter to partnering with AA to be a safe place for people to gather, we put our faith in action and find ways to love our community well.

As we move into the days to come, Christ Lutheran Church will continue to be a church that serves the community around us by planting seeds that grow into a harvest of grace.

Meet Our Church

CLC is made of newborns to 100+ year-olds. We are married couples, singles, young adults, empty nesters, teens, college students, kids, seniors and more, but all longing to grow in faith, hope, and love, and we all love and serve God. We expect all our young people — and young-at-heart folks too! — to be involved with every aspect of church: learning, serving, worshiping, praying, leading.

We come from all over the Northwest Indiana area.  Our worship space seats 300 or so comfortably. We have weekly opportunities for worship, serving, study, and fellowship.  Our building is used for community groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, bible studies, service projects and programs, activities, and more.

Christ Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest national Lutheran denomination.  We are part of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, a regional mission territory of over 180 Lutheran churches.

The first sermon ever preached at Christ Lutheran was titled “A call to creative adventure,” which is just as true now as it was then.  CLC was originally developed as a mission church of the American Lutheran Church (which became part of the ELCA in 1988).  Our founding pastor, Myron Lindblom, retired in 1978, and Rev. Jerry Castleman became pastor in 1979. Pastor Castleman continued at Christ Lutheran until his retirement in May of 2011 – a 32 year ministry. Pastor Tim Knauff was called as Sr. Pastor in May of 2013; Pastor Erica Gibson-Even began as first an Interim Associate Pastor in 2011, and was called as Pastor for Discipleship and Education in November, 2014.

Meet Our Staff

Rev. Timothy Knauff, Jr.

Senior Pastor
Pastor Tim arrived at Christ Lutheran in May of 2013, after serving churches in Wisconsin and South Bend, Indiana.  His previous career was in computer consulting around the Chicagoland area. He and his wife Amy have three boys, two cats, and a dog. Pastor Tim enjoys making music (piano, guitar, and more), being in the woods, technology, swimming, and reading. His continuing education interests include preaching, leadership, church culture, biblical studies, and family systems theory.   He serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for Housing Opportunities.  He blogs (very) occasionally at Reflections

Rev. Erica Gibson-Even

Pastor for Discipleship and Education
Pastor Erica came to CLC in 2011.  She first served a church in Illinois, and then lived for some time near Geneva, Switzerland, with her husband Adam and their two children. While there, she picked up a love for joyful global worship.  Pastor Erica is especially passionate about equipping families for faith formation and inviting adults into deeper discipleship.  She loves music, gardening, cooking, and trying to keep up with her busy teenagers.

Brian Bartusch

Director of Music Ministries
Brian is the newest member of the Christ Lutheran staff, having begun his responsibilities as Director of Music Ministries in August 2018. He brings almost 30 years of church music experience, having served churches in Lakewood, OH, Niles, MI, and Grand Rapids, MI. He graduated with a B.A. in organ performance from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, and after working in the music retail business for 7 years, he went on to graduate school and earned his master’s degree in organ performance from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI, studying organ with Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra and choral conducting with the late Dr. Leonard Riccinto. Brian also has experience in handbell ringing (both solo and ensemble), and is a founding member of Embellish, Grand Rapids’ premium handbell ensemble.

Jen Gottlieb

Director, Little Lamb Preschool
Jen Gottlieb serves as the Director of Little Lamb Preschool.  Jen and her family joined Christ Lutheran in 1997.  Since that time Jen has kept active in Vacation Bible School and chaired Christian Education.  Jen has been at Little Lamb since 2001, having taught all age levels and is currently serving as  Director.  Jen is married to Dave and they have two wonderful daughters and a very feisty dog, Lucy.  Jen loves to read, hike and travel.

Kaitlyn Jedrzejowski

Director of Youth Ministries
Kaitlyn joined the staff of CLC in March 2023. She graduated from Valparaiso University in May with a B.A. in both Theology/Ministry and General Economics, with a Public Relations minor. Kaitlyn has been a part of multiple ministries, from serving with her church back in her hometown in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, to her involvement in on-campus ministries during her time at VU. Kaitlyn loves studying biblical and practical theology and also learning more about what it means to be a follower of Christ. She loves getting to know new people and will always welcome conversation. Kaitlyn's hobbies include running, cooking, playing the clarinet, blogging, reading, and going on walks at the park with her dog Archie.

Jen Bias

Parish Administrator
Jenny has been with CLC for over 10 years doing all the office administration and loves to visit with the members and help in any way she can. She lives in Griffith, IN with her husband, Les. Her daughter, Brianna and grandson, Booker live nearby in Hammond.  Her oldest daughter Shanlynn lives in Washington, D.C.

Heather Budnik

Business Manager
Heather came to Christ Lutheran Church in 2006 and joined our staff in 2010.  She handles all of the accounting, financial reporting and benefits administration for the church and the preschool.  Heather is a CPA and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in Industrial Administration.  In the past, she has worked in auditing and systems consulting, and she loves having the opportunity to serve in a church setting.  Heather is married to Mark, and they have two sons in college and one daughter in high school.  She participates in many of our music ministries at CLC and devours anything science fiction.

Milan Coburn

Property Manager
Milan had a  37 year career in Plant Engineering and Management with Dayton Superior, Armstrong, Ugimag, Anchor Hocking, Shell Oil Co. He presently owns and operates MCM which focuses on church property management and home improvements.  Milan has been a member of CLC for 24 years and has served as Church Council President,  Building Committee Chairperson, Just Imagine co-chairperson and other special task forces. Milan also enjoys travel, sports, the outdoors, and volunteers delivering Meals on Wheels. He is married to Beth, has 3 married children and 5 grandchildren.

Nikki Soleim

Nursery Coordinator
I'm originally from North Dakota.  My husband Andrew and I met when we were Bible camp counselors. We moved to Valpo in the fall of 2011 and started attending CLC. I went to culinary school to be a pastry chef and worked as a professional baker for several years, but after having kids I decided to stay home and take care of my kids. Not long after that I also started caring for other peoples' kids. I have worked in the church nursery since 2018. I enjoy spending time with my husband Andrew and our 4 daughters. In my free time I enjoy hiking, gardening, baking, and doing crafts.

"Eddie" Seykowski

Building Attendant & Admin Helper
I have been a lifetime member of CLC, baptized by our founding Pastor, L. Myron Lindblom.  
Over the years, I have provided assistance in ministries, including:  Christian Education programs; Worship/Special Events.  I have also served as a Building Attendant when we have Rentals/Concerts, etc.  For several years, I have also served as an administrative support resource to the Pastors and Church staff.

Tony Reinhold

Building Attendant

Our Pipe Organ

Our congregation has dreamed of a pipe organ since at least the 1980’s.  

As we’ve expanded and grown and our worship space has moved, we’ve carried that dream, and when we built our new sanctuary we included space for pipes, in case that were to become reality.  Now, as of Easter Sunday 2018, it has!

The good people of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO installed and enjoyed their 31-rank W. Zimmer and Sons Pipe Organ Company instrument, designed by Dr. Paul Bunjes of Concordia University Chicago, in 1986.  In 2017 they relocated to a new sanctuary, which no longer fit their organ.  As an act of faithful stewardship they have entrusted their instrument to us at Christ Lutheran Church.

The organ is a  two-manual instrument designed and voiced in the Northern Germanic tradition.  Berghaus Organ Builders transported it from St. Louis to their shop in Bellwood, IL, where it underwent various changes and upgrades to insure a long life of dependable service for Christ Lutheran Church.  These included modernizing and refinishing the console, adding a brand new combination action system, as well as replacing the existing pneumatic stop action with electric slider motors, thus creating a cleaner, more reliable system, and one with far fewer leather parts to maintain.  The instrument was thoroughly cleaned and repaired in the Berghaus shop, and then transported to Valparaiso to be voiced.  The voicing process creates the proper blend and balance throughout the instrument in the location which will be its new home—our sanctuary.  Every individual pipe received careful attention and adjustment in the voicing process.  Two new ranks have been added to the original instrument to fill out the tonal voice in the sanctuary. 

The pipes are installed into the Organ Loft located directly above the main entrance to the sanctuary and will extend into the Organ Chamber.  Directly behind the tall, polished pipes of the facade (front row), the wind chests for the Great pipes extend across the length of the Organ Loft.  Behind the screen is the enclosed Swell division on the left side (as you face the organ), and the Pedal pipes on the right side.  The Organ console (keyboard) is placed up front in the sanctuary, and is also movable, allowing us terrific flexibility for concerts and special performances.