Oh Day Full of Grace!

At the congregational meeting last Sunday, Nov. 7, the call committee presented Pastor Michael Wilker as the candidate for senior pastor.  The vote to approve Pastor Wilker was unanimous.  Let us join in giving thanks and praise to God for sending First Lutheran this gifted leader!  In his acceptance letter to the Call Committee & Council, Pastor Wilker writes: 

“I feel a humble reverence, deep joy, and abiding peace to join in the ministry God calls us to do together. You have a clear devotion to God. You care about one another and the entire Decorah community. You are excited about God’s ministry for the sake of the whole world. I have come to understand that you and I both believe that creative, liberating preaching and worship along with strong, healthy congregational relationships and generous hospitality for newcomers will be key to nourishing us in the years ahead. God has been with you during these recent years of change–and God continues to sustain and lead us.  I look forward to joining you soon.”

Pastor Mike will begin his ministry with us Tuesday, January 18.  We pray for the Wilker family during this time of transition, and we pray for their current congregation, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, as they prepare to say goodbye.

Thank you to the call committee for their steadfast service:  Greg McGohan, chair; Johanna Bergan, Brenda Carlson, John Evelsizer-Olson, Jon Hart, Jennifer Larson, Karen Martin-Schramm, Betsy Ratashak-Vogel and Dan Shaw. They were joined by youth representatives Rebecca Anderson and Erik Hjelle for the interview stage. Profound thanks also to former call committee members Zac Robinson, chair; Heidi Miller Olinger, Carol Birkland & youth representative, Noah Lovelace. 

Click here for the introductory bio presented at the congregational meeting.

November 7 – 9 a.m. Worship & 10 a.m. Congregational Meeting

Mark your calendars for the congregational meeting to be held Sunday, November 7 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in the sanctuary immediately following 9 a.m. worship, with overflow seating in the Fellowship Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to vote on the Call Committee’s recommendation for the position of senior pastor and to approve a compensation package. Coffee & fellowship will follow the congregational meeting.

Call Committee Update 8/3/21

The FLC Sr. Pastor Call Committee will once again begin their work to find our next Pastoral Leader.  Committee Members include Johanna Bergan, Brenda Carlson, John Evelsizer-Olson, Jon Hart, Jennifer Larson, Karen Martin-Schramm, Greg McGohan, Betsy Ratashak-Vogel & Dan Shaw. The committee will be meeting with our Interim Bishop, Andrea  DeGroot-Nesdahl, this week to discuss the call process.  We are expecting to receive Rostered Minister Profiles of candidates interested in our call within a few weeks. If any congregation member would like to nominate an ELCA Rostered Minister for our Sr. Pastor call, please contact Call Committee Chair, Greg McGohan at gmcgohan@gmail.com or at 507-202-1411.  Any nominations from the congregation will be forwarded to the Synod office. Please keep this dedicated team in your prayers as they continue this discernment process.

Call Committee Update 3/3/21

The Senior Pastor Call Committee has recently concluded the first round of interviews and will be reflecting on the candidates before beginning a second round of video interviews. They are planning to do onsite interviews as a final round; however, those are still some time off and will not be announced publicly until after they occur. Though specific questions cannot be answered, the chairperson welcomes general questions. Contact Zac Robinson, (303) 204-2045.

Call Committee Update 2/3/21

The Senior Pastor Call Committee met with the Synod Bishop and Assistant to the Bishop and received the first set of candidate information. Members of the Call Committee are reviewing the Rostered Minister Profiles and other materials from the candidates that are available digitally. There is a significant amount of information to review and the group will be meeting regularly to discuss the results of their discernment. They hope to start the first round of video interviews before Lent. During this time the members of the Call Committee cannot discuss the specifics of the candidates or interviews. If you have general questions please contact Zac Robinson at zrob17@hotmail.com. 

Meet Your Call Committee

At an August 30 congregational meeting, the following FLC members were elected to serve on the call committee for our senior pastor call process.

They represent a wide range of backgrounds and demographics, and are a mix of longstanding members and new members.

We are grateful to each of them for accepting the nomination to serve.

Carol Birkland

Carol Birkland

My husband Tom and I have been members of First Lutheran since 1997 when we returned from Geneva, Switzerland where I worked for the Lutheran World Federation’s Dept. for World Service.  After serving a brief time as Luther College’s Director for Church Relations, we moved to Minneapolis and I went to work for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.  However, we kept our associate membership at First during the seven years I worked for Thrivent. 

After I retired and returned to Decorah, I have served on the Church Council, sung in the choir and assisted Interim Pastor Harris Hostager as the congregation went through the call process that ended with Pastor Chad’s installation at First.  I also helped establish the Decorah Community Meal that seven years ago began serving free meals to members of the Decorah community.  We served thousands of guests at First until structural problems closed the Fellowship Hall and kitchen.

My working life has all been with the Lutheran Church in a number of different capacities, but usually in the field of international aid and mission.  I am a Luther grad, sang in Nordic Choir and then went on to get an M.A. from Pacific Lutheran University and an M.A. in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul.

 

Brenda Carlson

Brenda Carlson

Hi!  I am a farm girl from Gunder, Iowa, a Luther College graduate and together with my husband, David, we are blessed with six children and seventeen grandchildren.  I joined First Lutheran in 1979 when I moved to Decorah.  I have served on the church council, taught Sunday School and Bible School, served on several committees, served as ACT team leader, assisted with Nordic Fest Smorgasbord and the Youth Banquet/Fundraiser and volunteer as an usher, deacon and lector.  (David tells me I probably shouldn’t sing in the choir!)  I am excited and hopeful for the current and visionary ministries of First Lutheran and I would be honored to serve you as a member of the callcommittee as we plan for our church’s future. 

 

Jon Hart

Jon Hart

As a long-time member at First Lutheran, I look forward to seeing you all soon in person!  I have been a member at First for 40+ years, singing in the choir for most of those years, serving on the church council several times, and chairing numerous committees over that time.  Needless to say, First Lutheran has played a major role in our lives and the lives of our family, supporting us spiritually and physically in our times of need, as well as fostering deep friendships!  My wife, Mary, served on staff as parish nurse for many years before retiring. I would be honored to serve this congregation as we move forward in the challenging months ahead.

 

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson

I am looking forward to working together with the FLC call committee as we seek a pastor for our congregation.  My family and I have been members of  FLC since moving to Decorah nearly 20 years ago.  We were drawn to this place and continue to support the ministries because of the commitment made to its mission to be a community of worship, witness, spiritual growth, and service to God’s people.  I have been involved as a School school teacher, bell choir member, delegate to synod assemblies, and have been active in WELCA.  Currently I am serving on the board of directors of the NEI synodical women’s organization.  I thoroughly enjoy FLC book groups, bible study, and Online Evening Prayer.  So excited to begin this new journey with FLC. 

 

Greg McGohan

Greg McGohan

My family & I have been members of FLC for 4 years.  I grew up in southeast Iowa and graduated from Luther. We spent 21 years in Minnesota before coming “home” to Decorah.  My wife LaDonna & I have 3 kids Lily (18), Alex (14) & Oliver (4). During my time at FLC, I have been a delegate to the NE IA Synod Assembly, served on the Building Visioning Task Force and I am currently the secretary on the church council.
Heidi Miller Olinger

Heidi Miller Olinger

Hello friends, Heidi Miller Olinger here! I have been a member of FLC since 1997. I’m originally from Marshalltown, Iowa. My husband Jeff and I moved to Decorah in 1991. We have two grown children, son Drew (married to Hanna and two granddaughters Greer and Blair) and daughter Tess. I’ve served on church council in the past, as well as Youth and Family and stewardship committees. I appreciate this opportunity to further serve our congregation on the call committee

 

John Evelsizer Olson

John Evelsizer Olson

I am a Montana native who has lived, worked, and served in a number of places – Wiscosin, California, Oregon, and Colorado – before settling here in Decorah, which is my wife’s hometown. I taught science at the middle school and high school levels before pursuing my Masters in Exercise Physiology and a Physician Assistant Degree, both from the University of Colorado. We moved to Decorah In 2016. I currently work at Winneshiek Medical Center as a Physician Assistant,  working in Family Practice/Occupational Health/Urgent Care/Emergency Room/Orthopedics. We have 3 kids, David, a senior, 17 years old, Andrew, 8th grade, 13 years old, and Kaya, 3rd grade, 8 years old. Here at First, I have been involved with youth ministry as an adult advisor. I traveled with the youth group to Flathead Bible Camp in 2019, and this summer I took two youth to Christikon Lutheran Bible Camp, both in Montana.  I am looking forward to serving on the call committee at First Lutheran.
Zac Robinson

Zac Robinson

I grew up mostly in Decorah and moved to Colorado after college.  I spent about 17 years there and moved back to Decorah with my family in 2018.  Amy and I have 3 kids; Conner (3rd grade), Peter (K), and Lilly (13 months).  I’ve been a member of the Church Council since February.

 

Betsy Ratashak-Vogel

Betsy Ratashak-Vogel

My family joined FLC in the fall of 2019 after moving to Decorah. I own a financial planning firm in addition to caring for our children, Marta (6) and Simon (2). Having served various roles in former congregations including a call committee, I look forward to serving FLC in this capacity. My husband JT and I enjoy FLC’s friendly community and wide range of ministries.