Pastor Mark Peters makes Zion Lutheran Church his home congregation
On Sunday, December 6, at its 9:30 a.m. service, Zion Lutheran church installed its new Pastor, Mark Peters. Pastor Peters comes to Zion following a two-year search. The church was looking for a pastor who not only had the skills of preaching and worship leadership, pastoral care and visitation, but also had a good sense of stewardship and community. The congregation found all of that, and more, in Pastor Peters.
Pastor Peters comes to Zion after a three-year term as pastor at French River Lutheran Church, Duluth. He wanted to settle into the life of a congregation and he accepted the call to Zion. His strength in building, a sense of community and stewardship will serve our congregation, as well as the community. The outreach programs at Zion include supporting the Falls Hunger Coalition, Ruby’s Pantry, and the Backus Community Cafe through volunteer and financial assistance. Zion’s collaborative ecumenical efforts with other congregations also drew him to Zion. Those efforts include midweek Advent and Lenten and Summer in the Park services. Zion and Littlefork Lutheran also maintain a cabin at Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry Camp at Lake Vermilion. Pastor Peters was impressed Zion also had a strong outreach ministry through live radio, live streaming and video replay, and local television. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zion was poised to meet the spiritual needs of the congregation and the area. The live virtual Facebook service has steadily increased viewership, now averaging over 400 views per week. Viewers are from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa.
Pastor Peters grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin, studying political science and education. After college, he attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, was ordained, then served his first call was in rural southwestern Minnesota near Wilmar. He served the next 18 years as executive director of Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota, whose purpose statement reads: “addresses biblical values such as concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease, hospitality to strangers, and care for creation.” He advocated for the public policy goals of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). “I related to government officials in Minnesota from Jesse Ventura to Tim Pawlenty to Mark Dayton,” he says and then added that there were also changes in bishops. “A lot stays the same, but a lot changes. What I found is, in order to navigate in that area, to be authentic, one really needs to focus on the common good, not the partisan ideologies, especially when representing the church.” 2020 marks his 28th year in ministry.
Peters said “I consider myself an adaptive leader. Our denomination is rooted historically in the Reformation and always needs to be ceaselessly reforming and renewing in order to stay relevant to the current context. The church is the Church of the Reformation, but it always needs to be ceaselessly reforming and being made new.” He was keen on finding a church with an outward community focus and wanted a church that cared for the natural beauty of the world in which we live. Pastor Peters describes himself as a servant/leader and sees ministry as a quest to discover and nurture the abundant gifts already present in congregations and communities, and he believes that congregations are called upon to connect with local and global communities. He brings together those with similar interests and encourages them to utilize those talents and become a more active part of the community and greater area.
Pastor Peters’ history includes an active involvement in youth ministry and in researching and implementing education programs for all ages, often in partnership with other congregations. A recent server/leader position he held was as Executive Director of the Luther Point Bible Camp and Retreat Center in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.
Regarding day in the life of Pastor Peters, he states: “If there’s a day or any recurring time that I don’t want to get up and come into the office or go out into the community, then it’s time to do something else. When I wake up in the morning, I am eager to see what surprises await; and I am never disappointed or bored. It’s about relationships and it’s about being buoyed by those who really seek to make a difference.”
Pastor Peters was married 33 years to his wife, Janeen, a graduate of Luther Seminary, who died in 2018. He has two sons who live with him in the home he recently purchased near the airport. He enjoys living close enough to his home that he can go there for lunch and have his English Shepherd dog “take him for a walk”. His oldest son, Noah, is 20 years old and currently taking a year off from college, wanting to live the full experience of college life upon returning to our new norm. Alek is 16 and is attending Littlefork-Big Falls High School.
Pastor Peters is passionate about singing, having sung professionally or semi-professionally throughout his life. He has 48 boxes of vinyl records and many CD’s and enjoys most every type of music. He looks forward to sharing his love of music with the congregation. “Music is a big part of who I am, I love being in a vocation that values that.” Zion fully meets that desire.
Peters actively manages the Wisconsin family farm with his brother. The farm is enrolled in various forestry and conservation programs. Their management practices have been awarded the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Award by the Richland County Wisconsin Conservation Committee. Peters’ favorite season is winter and he loves cross country skiing and finds I Falls ripe for exploring area trails. Upland game and turkey hunting, archery, and fishing (mostly from a canoe) are some of his other interests.
As to Pastor Mark, Bishop Amy Odgren states: “Pastor Mark is a compassionate and experienced pastor who brings the gifts of solid teaching and preaching, the love of music, relevant advocacy, and support of outdoor ministry to his new role as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church. He will give leadership and encouragement to Zion to be a church actively engaged with the community while sharing the love of Christ with others”.
Sent directly to Pastor Mark Peters
"Hi, I am Pastor Mark Peters. Welcome to Zion Lutheran Church."