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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Beyond the lens

Photography club member: ‘Once I saw the detail in a spider’s eye, well, how can there not be a God?’

Andrew Kjos discovered he can see God in the eye of a spider. Tammy Anderson realized there are many more ways to interpret Scripture than she learned in seminary. They are members of the Northern Illinois Synod Photography Club, which aims to help photographers express their faiths with the click of a shutter.

Founded by Jeff Schlesinger, an avid photographer and pastor of Freedom Lutheran Church, Oregon, Ill., the group brings together folks who want to fold their love of photography into part of their faith journey through sharing and learning. 

Each meeting begins with devotions. Members, most Lutherans from the synod (some are from other denominations), are invited — even encouraged — to see God through the lens of a camera with photo assignments tied to Scripture. “What we don’t want to be is another photography club,” Schlesinger said. “We want to define ourselves in relation to our faith and to reflect, teach our faith and serve through our photography.”

Schlesinger believes God’s good, glorious gifts and our fragile or robust faiths can be seen in a wispy dandelion puff ball, a mighty locomotive, a barn’s silhouette at sunset or even three wild turkeys strolling down a country path.

Comprised of clergy and lay, the small group is growing. Members say they can see their faith expanding beyond the lens of their cameras. They also contributed their skills photographing events at last year’s synod assembly. 

Kjos, a member of Cross of Glory Lutheran Church, Homer Glen, Ill., travels two hours to attend the club’s bimonthly meetings at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Center in Oregon. He said the club has broadened his perspective for reaching out to others. A self-avowed introvert, Kjos said connecting to the group nudged him into offering to photograph members for the Cross of Glory directory. 


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