Anette I. Westermark (2015-2018)

The Rev. Dr. Anette Westermark is our church's 31st pastor. (Photo: Mindy Pastrovich)

Before coming to FPCN in 2015, Pastor Anette was a temporary supply pastor for the First Presbyterian Church in Litchfield, Illinois. She was also pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cobden, Illinois, a small-town church of about 80 members, for nine years. She was director of pastoral care at the 300-member Sunrise Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida. Before being ordained in 2004 as a Presbyterian minister, Pastor Anette did her pastoral internship at the First Presbyterian Church of Miami. She had experience in lay ministry as well, having served as a missionary in Cyprus for five years.

Pastor Anette earned associate’s degrees in social studies and human resources (Stockholm, Sweden) and pastoral ministry (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Miami, Florida). She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies from Trinity International University (Miami, Florida), a master of divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (Columbia, South Carolina), and a doctor of ministry degree from the Florida Center of Theological Studies in Miami, Florida. In addition, Pastor Anette earned four units of clinical pastoral education from Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami, Florida).

Pastor Anette’s strong ecumenical background suited FPCN's diverse community. In her personal information form, Pastor Anette wrote that she “wants to serve a church in a metropolitan and multicultural setting.” An immigrant herself - she and her husband moved to the United States in 1993 - she understood firsthand the challenges that many people in our neighborhood face. She was proficient in Swedish, English, modern Greek, Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Norwegian. She worked with other denominations with whom the PC(USA) is in full communion, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. Pastor Anette also completed six weeks of continuing education in Sweden at the personal invitation of the Bishop of the Stockholm City Synod of the Swedish Church.

Pastor Anette grew up in a nonreligious household in a very secular country (only 3% of people in Sweden go to church), but she discovered God as a teenager after her parents sent her to Sunday School. She had the ability to reach out to many different types of Christians and as well as non-Christians.

Despite having such a diverse background, Pastor Anette was firmly rooted in our Protestant Reformed tradition. She believed in God as “the creator of life,” in Jesus as "the Son of God,…both human and divine," and in the Holy Spirit as "the one who prepares and brings new life." She believed that people cannot earn their salvation because "God's love can never be achieved, only received."

In 2011, Pastor Anette received two scholarships to study pipe organ in Stockholm, Sweden under the direction of recording artist Mathias Kjellgren. When she returned to the United States, she presented a number of recitals in at churches in southern Illinois.

At the Southeastern Illinois Presbytery, she belonged to several presbytery committees, including stewardship and mission and the permanent judicial committee. She taught self-defense classes for women at local homeless shelters. She also valued the importance of visitation - she served as volunteer chaplain at Union County Hospital for eight years.

Pastor Anette and her husband Kaj, whom she met in Sweden, have a son. In her spare time, Pastor Anette enjoyed jogging, body building, music, art, and travel. She also liked to spend quality time with her family, extended family (foster care), and friends.

Under her leadership, Pastor Anette introduced 23 new programs. One of them was the Newtown Puppets ministry, in which children from the church would make puppets to perform a play for the congregation with a script written by her. The Newtown Puppets also performed throughout the community. Her Bible classes for adults and young people were well-attended. She was also active in our community, serving on three community boards and starting an alliance of churches in Elmhurst with two other local ministers. At the Presbytery of New York City, Pastor Anette served on the Committee of Ministry. She also volunteered to work with Boy Scout Troop 17 in Elmhurst, the New York Greater Council of Boy Scouts (as a range safety instructor), and an auxiliary police office to the 110th Precinct of the New York Police Department.

In 2017, Pastor Anette received an invitation from the Diocese of Karlstad in Sweden to work with several churches for several weeks In 2018, Pastor Anette returned to Sweden to accept a call with the Diocese of Karlstad to work with several churches and minister to newly arrived refugees and their families in partnership with the Red Cross.