First Lutheran Church, Cincinnati
Product data scientist, Cisco; former co-chair, Gather Network

I first connected with my congregation in August of 2020. At First Lutheran, I play cello when the church band gets together, serve as an assisting minister periodically, and was our voting member for the 2023 Southern Ohio Synod Assembly.

The most important way I’m involved at First Lutheran is being in community together. For me that looks like getting to play cello with my favorite fifth-grader, hang out with three sweet girls so their mom can do things like lead church board meetings, gather for dinner and ride bikes with my favorite 5-year-old, go sledding on snow days with families who live downtown, and have dinner with and hear the stories of the nicest older couple.

My church community means having close community in a city where I don’t have family nearby. It means beautiful intergenerational relationships. It means not being alone in the beauty and challenge of life.

As a product data scientist, I analyze data created by products to help inform decisions made by their engineering and design teams. I work with analytics engineers who help provide the data for us to analyze. I originally got interested in data science in high school and got my start in it through the data analytics major at The Ohio State University.

What I love about data science is how it can answer questions at a scale that would be impossible otherwise. With quantitative measures of user experience, patterns can be found across far more users than would be possible manually. Quantitative and qualitative methods are complementary, and both are necessary to get a full picture, but I love being on the quantitative side and getting to use data science to answer questions at scale.

I feel called to love others by helping them have the best possible experience with technology, through my vocation. Technology is present in all parts of life and can be challenging to use. I’m glad to have a part in making that experience as smooth as possible.

I feel called to love others by helping them have the best possible experience with technology, through my vocation.

I served as a co-chair of the Gather Network from when the position was formed, in December 2022, through the end of 2023. I got involved with helping to create the Gather Network through connections made at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Columbus in August 2022. There I met Daniel Kirschbaum, program director for ELCA Young Adult Ministry, and other young adults who were, or wanted to be, building young-adult faith communities in their cities.

After the Churchwide Assembly, Daniel and their team gathered these young-adult leaders virtually as the start of the Gather Network, and asked Stephanie Anderson and I—who had formed the first two Gathers—to be the first co-chairs of the network. It has been wonderful to create a collection of resources and templates for new Gathers, help develop and participate in the Gather Network’s mentorship program, connect new leaders with the Young Adult Community Resource Grant and, most importantly, gather young adult leaders virtually once a month for time to be in community together.

Being a co-chair of the Gather Network has been meaningful to me because I’ve gotten to support and connect with so many other young adult leaders across the country. My co-chairs and I got to help share what we wish we knew when we were starting our Gathers, and make a space for them to ask questions and get support from us and each other. I get to benefit from that community too. Knowing that other people relate to my experiences, and getting to learn from the incredible young adult leaders I get to be in community with, is so encouraging. It’s a really beautiful and energizing space to get to be in.

I’ve been the co-organizer of Gather Cincinnati since I founded it in April 2021. Since then it has grown into a group of young adults of faith who meet quarterly for worship, and monthly for fellowship and faith formation. Since December 2021, I have been co-organizing Gather Cincinnati with Addy Kruse.

I’ve gotten to support and connect with so many other young adult leaders across the country.

Gather Cincinnati is meaningful to me because, as much as I love the intergenerational faith community of my home congregation, I need to also have connections with people of faith in the same stage of life as me to be able to fully show up and participate in intergenerational church life. Gather Cincinnati provides that. It has been a place for young adults looking for community, whether long-term or short-term, through their entire time in Cincinnati or just for a season. It’s so complex and beautiful to intentionally create community together. I’m glad we’re here, and I have learned so much about myself, my strengths and how I best work with and lean on others.

Similar to Gather Cincinnati, I formed the Cincinnati Data & Analytics Meetup to fill a gap. Instead of a young-adult faith community, here it was in-person networking in analytics that hadn’t come back after the pandemic. I launched it in April 2022, and we’ve been meeting monthly since then for an hourlong talk and an hour of networking. Throughout both years, we’ve had a diversity of voices from different industries as well as women and people of color represented in the speakers and attendees.

In my free time I love urban cycling. I bike for transportation and fun, and love getting together for group rides. I also travel for swing dance, speak German and enjoy powerlifting.

I pray for all people to feel loved by God, by others and by the systems and structures they are part of.

I find hope in the beauty of community and connection, and in naming complex realities. I hope that community and connection can help others feel the love of God and of their community. I hope that community and connection can lead to the change in systems and structures needed for us to love all our neighbors with equity.

Grace, to me, means unconditional love.

I’m a Lutheran because God’s unending grace and unconditional love are the essence of how we are called to be in relationship with our neighbors.

If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email

John Potter
John G. Potter is content editor of Living Lutheran. He lives in St. Paul, Minn.

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