Member Stories: Shannon and Scott

Shannon and Scott Banjavcic met in marching band while attending the University of Illinois. Shannon played piccolo, and Scott alto saxophone. After Shannon graduated with her bachelors and Scott with his masters in 2009, they moved to Chicago’s west Lakeview neighborhood. They discovered “church row,” while running down Fullerton from the lakefront, and decided to check out St. Pauls. “I fell in love with it immediately,” remembers Shannon. “Somebody told Choir Director, Kurt Hansen, we were musical; by the third week we were singing in the choir,” she adds.

Work Life

Shannon currently works as an operations consultant at Slalom Consulting.  Scott is a full-time faculty at College of DuPage, and is also pursuing his PhD in Civil Engineering through the University of Illinois. They still run, doing a couple races a year including the 2015 Chicago Marathon. Scott is presently taking organ lessons with Kevin Dzierzawski, and Shannon is playing flute and piccolo with the Windy City Winds.  Both Shannon and Scott pick up their instruments to play in St. Pauls Intergenerational Orchestra. They have two pet birds, cockatiels, Charlie and Chelsea.

Religious Background

Scott grew up in a small United Church of Christ church in Fairview Heights, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis, where his mother was, and still is, the organist. Shannon, also from downstate, was raised not going to church, and had actually sworn off religion. “The small town attitude was, ‘Have you given yourself to Jesus? No? Well, you’re going to Hell.’ It was a way for people to hold something over you,” she recollects.

Scott joined the UCC campus ministry as a freshman at University of Illinois. Right away he started the campus choir. “They had a lot of talented people, but nobody did anything. I walked in the door, Pastor put me in charge, and away we went. Some of my best friends came out of there,” he says.

Shannon, on the other hand, waded into campus church life more cautiously, “I started by going to Greek Intervarsity, a conservative campus religious organization,” she recalls. “It was welcoming up front, and helped me learn, but I struggled with some of the things they said.” Scott tried to go with her to Intervarsity, but “hated the very conservative interpretation,” he remembers. 

In Chicago, “we wrestled with finding a fit for both of us,” Shannon says. “I thought I wanted Methodist.”

“I wasn’t going to leave UCC,” recalls Scott.

Ultimately, they found their niche at St. Pauls. “It fits our belief system,” says Shannon. “It’s a welcoming environment to learn. I love to learn, am not afraid to ask questions, and Pastor Matt is glad to answer them,” she adds.

The duo has taken advantage of many of the social and service opportunities St. Pauls has to offer. They’ve served as Youth Group leaders, sing in the Chancel Choir, been cast in Bible Story Theatre, sponsored new members and confirmands, tipped steins of beer at Oktoberfest, and Shannon is a member of the church council.

 

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