I grew up in Abrams, Wisconsin, so I have to say that I was familiar with the Peshtigo area before I became Pastor at Zion. One of my earliest memories was fishing for walleye with my dad on the Menominee River. What really struck me when I came to visit earlier in the summer was that the diner that we would often go to for breakfast is still there, and it’s only a couple blocks from church. At that early age I would have never thought that I would be serving in Peshtigo as a pastor. It goes to show you that the Lord has his plan for each and every one of us.
During my early years I did a lot of traveling for grade school and high school. My parents truly valued a Christian education, so my twin brother and I went to St. Mark’s in Green Bay for elementary school and continued on to Fox Valley Lutheran in Appleton for high school.
After graduating from Fox Valley Lutheran in 1992, I enrolled in Northwestern Lutheran College to become a pastor. I attended NWC for 3 years and then I finished out my college up at Martin Luther College.
Following graduation from MLC in 1997, I began school at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Those years in WLS will be with me forever. You get really close to your classmates because you are all there for the same purpose.
After my first two years at the WLS, I was assigned to serve St. John’s Lutheran Church in Baraboo, Wisconsin for my Vicar year. When I finished my vicar year I returned to WLS for one final year. It is hard to explain what that year is like. The excitement of serving in a church for a year and the excitement of being one year closer to serving full-time in a congregation really takes over. I was thrilled and overjoyed to receive my first call and begin serving at Trinity, in Nicollet. Trinity is a congregation that has over 700 souls and operates a grade school.
One of the toughest things about my ministry was that during the early years I was single. But in May of 2007 God changed all of that. My aunt was teaching school in Appleton and had a friend who had a friend who was single. They came up with the idea to introduce us. I was told that I needed to email this teacher in Burlington, WI. So on May 1 I did, and that is when it all started. What began with an e-mail soon became much more. We began seeing each other during that summer and things quickly became serious. By fall we were engaged and were married on December 29, 2007. It all happened fast, but we both knew that it was the Lord bringing us together.
My wife Susan, grew up in New Berlin, WI. She went to Star of Bethlehem Lutheran School followed by Northwestern Prep (now Luther Prep) for high school. She earned her teaching degree at Wisconsin Lutheran College, where her father was a teacher and the registrar. After graduating in 1995, Sue received a call to teach 3rd grade at St. John’s Lutheran School in Burlington, WI. She taught there for 13 years before we got married. During her time there she sang in church, directed Youth Choir and Senior Choir, and basically served wherever she was needed. I have to say that she is a great blessing to my ministry. She helps me more than she realizes.
At Trinity the Lord gave me a lot of experiences that led me to see that his way is always the best way. On August 24, 2006 a tornado hit the town of Nicollet, causing damage to our church, school building and daycare. While initially you would think the worst in a disaster like this, God made everything work out for our good. We were able to build a new school building attached to our church. The school that was damaged was across the street and made it inconvenient when teachers had to bring the kids over to church for lunch and other activities. This really taught me that even when we are going through trials and difficulties, God will make everything work out for our good.
So that brings me to Peshtigo. With the Lord’s help I will serve the people of Zion with all my heart. As in everything the Lord is in control and I have witnessed that many times in my life. I pray that he will bless this congregation through my service. And I pray that everyone here continues to grow in their faith through the study of God’s Word and the blessings of his Sacraments.