St. John’s would like to welcome Pastor Stacy Pethke!!
Greetings friends of St. John’s Lutheran Church!
I am Reverend Pethke. I am excited to be called as your Pastor to join in the ministry of St. John’s Lutheran Church. I am a graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota. I am a second career pastor, and all that really means is, I have some life experience under my belt, about a good 25 plus years. I previously worked was an emergency medical technician for 20 years, worked in medical facilities and just before seminary, I worked in human services doing eligibility for state and federal programs such as Snap, or Food Share, Childcare Assistance, Refugee Assistance, Medical Assistance and many more. I am originally from the Oshkosh area, where I was born and raised, but currently serve in a newly formed shared ministry with two congregations in Michigan.
Just a brief history of my faith background. I was baptized United Church of Christ, confirmed Missouri Synod Lutheran, converted to Catholicism where my daughter was baptized, have attended many different faith-based churches through my lifetime. My aunt and uncle and my grandparents were very influential in my faith journey as well as the family of my best friend in high school who invited me to attend an ELCA church in my hometown. As I young adult I did fall away from the church but have always been drawn back in in one way or another. My daughter and I landed in a start-up ELCA congregation where I reconnected with a friend I had attended worship with while in high school. I became active in this congregation that started meeting in the local school auditorium and eventually was gifted land where the church was built just three short years later.
It was in that congregation that I was inspired to become a pastor. I had been called on by church leadership to be a leader in various aspects of our church during transitions of pastors. The most influential experience was when I was asked to be an assisting minister and was able to pray with and for my community of faith that had lifted me and my daughter up when I was in a valley of my life. That was a Holy Spirit moment. This is also where I was asked, by a friend, if I would be willing to go on a blind date. With a nudge from the Holy Spirit, and my friend saying he and his wife would go with us, I accepted the invitation. That is when I met my husband. We have been married for almost nine years. We have a blended family of 3 young adult girls, one young adult son and three grandchildren, of which two are twins who were recently released from the NICU in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and we also recently found out we have a fourth grandchild on the way.
My husband was the final nudge into seminary, although I had no idea what it took to become a pastor. When I met my husband, I was finishing my associate’s degree and as the school called beckoning me to go on for my Bachelor’s degree, my husband also encouraged it. Well, it was a good thing because I had no idea I needed a four year degree that would allow me to go on to graduate school for my Master of Divinity. By the grace of God my husband was able to get a job in Minnesota, so we packed up our home, our two youngest kids, at the time and moved to Minnesota. While I attended Luther Seminary, I was asked to participate in an emphasis program in Children, Youth and Family ministry. Well folks, that was another Holy Spirit moment as I am all about kids, youth, and our families but I also think intergenerational worship and faith participation is important in this journey of faith together.
While in seminary my husband lost his job when we only had one and a half years left, my internship and one semester. We discerned and prayed about what we should do, stop or continue, and again my husband said we need to finish this. And we did when I graduated in December of 2017 but really the work had just begun.
In my current synod I am a conference president, the chairperson for our synod youth team, I am the National Youth Gathering Synod Coordinator, I am part of our synod’s Congregation Vitality Team and have participated in Faithful Innovations training. I am currently one of twelve pastors that were selected by Luther Seminary to participate in a Siebert Grant Funded Wisconsin Missional Leadership Cohort. Yes, I am a busy woman who is passionate not only about children, youth, and families but believe it is vital to the life of the church to be intergenerational. It is important to think about how we keep our churches moving forward in a time of change and fears around what is the future of our church and the ELCA.
In my spare time, I love spending time with family and friends, getting out in nature and enjoying dinners together. Hospitality is my thing and I love hosting get togethers, big or small. I enjoy spending time with my children and love getting back home to spend time with my sister, who is battling stage 4 colon cancer, her husband, my niece and nephew and my parents.
What energizes me in ministry is being creative in worship. Finding a way to try to affect our 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, hear and see. I appreciate all genres of music and different types of liturgies. I have created services as needs of the congregation arise. I enjoy doing visitation of all people of the congregation and even those that are not part of the church. Ministry, that I do, is not just restricted to Sunday mornings but I believe it is my calling every day. I am also passionate and energized doing children, youth and family ministries.
As your pastoral leader I will love you as one of God’s beloved children. I will listen to each of you to learn who you are and what makes St. John’s so special. I will challenge you to think outside of the box, in how we do ministry. We will try new things together and if they don’t work, we will take what we have learned and try something else but tried and true is good too. I do not presume to have all the answers because only God does. But we will work together to listen to one another and to listen for what God is calling us into and go where the Holy Spirit is leading us as a community of faith. The path may not always be easy, we may not always agree, we will share smiles, laughs and tears but we will do it as the body of Christ of St. John’s Lutheran Church.
I am honored that your call committee has put forth my name to be your shepherd of St. John’s Lutheran Church and to preach and teach God’s word. As your call committee and I met we asked many questions of one another, one thing I have heard clearly is St. John’s wants to be a strong presence in your community, you are a close-knit community of faith and resurrection people. I completely resonate with that. I am not a sit behind the desk, all the time, kind of pastor. I like to be in the community sharing and inviting others into the good news of Jesus Christ and the work of the congregation I lead. From those I have spoken with there is great hope for the future of St. John’s! I believe with the guidance of the Holy Spirit our work together will be innovative at St. John’s, in the synod, and in your community.
I look forward to meeting all of you and please feel free to reach out as well.
Reverend Stacy Pethke (Pet-key)
Bruce Russell – President
Michelle Virtues – Vice-President
Steve Larsen – Treasurer
Brenda Walkowiak – Secretary
To email any council or staff member their email address is first name.last name “@” stjohnlittlesuamico.org