Introducing Edward “Max” Franks
St. Paul’s new resident pastor – coming August 2022
Tell us about your family/where you grew up/went to college
I grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa and attended Lutheran Church of Hope. I was enrolled at the University of Iowa for my first two years of college as a pre-veterinary medicine major. An uncle of mine was a veterinarian and, as a young person, I wanted to be like him. I ended up in the religion studies department at Iowa after some discernment work on my major. As I got deeper into my coursework and started to experience life on my own as a young person, I started to realize God was calling me to ministry. I transferred to Wartburg College halfway through my college career. I was a pre-seminary/theology major there. I’m thankful for that decision, not just for the education but because Wartburg was where I met my wife, Liz.
What makes you, you?
I’m a conversationalist. I enjoy being in conversation with people. A lot of who I am has to do with the relationships I’ve had or have with other people. Those relationships are really rooted in surface-penetrating conversation. I love to have deep and rich conversations with others because it’s from those discussions and connections that I discover more about other people which helps me discover more about myself.
I’m also a huge Iowa Hawkeyes sports fan. I grew up playing ice hockey, baseball, and football. My plan was to play sports in college but I had a plan-altering injury my junior year in high school. Losing that in my life was difficult but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s been an important part of my faith journey.
Why did you want to become a pastor?
If you were to ask most pastors this question I get the sense they would say ‘I was called to be a pastor’ and that’s the way I feel about it too. I feel God’s call so strongly that if I were not to answer it, that would stick with me the rest of my life. I have a passion to help guide others in their seeking, questioning, and learning about themselves as beloved children of God.
I’ve often experienced that, in many ways, we find God in the places we least expect to find God; so I enjoy connecting with people and discovering who they are and where they are in their lives. I like turning over rocks and seeing how God might be at work there, in those shadowy places we may not expect to find God. Talking to people about their faith and helping people with the wrestling that often comes with the life of faith brings me joy. I get a lot out of those moments where people seem to grow in their faith or grow more in their understanding or perception of how God is at work in their lives or in the lives of their neighbors, their community, or their church.
What intrigues you about St. Paul?
My dad’s side of the family is all from Eastern Iowa. It feels like home even though I’ve never actually lived there. I come from a large church (Lutheran Church of Hope), my internship is at a large church. Liz and I have been members at that church for four years. I really resonate with the environment of St. Paul. Large churches can make a big impact and I’m interested in how large churches can play a vital role in the community.
What are you looking forward to?
I feel really drawn by the spirit back to Eastern Iowa and to St. Paul. There are little God hints here and there. I want to develop my pastoral skills and experiences in a conducive and supportive context. The opportunity to assume different leadership roles and take risks that would normally be more challenging in a traditional first-call context is really exciting. The residency program has a great reputation for cultivating emerging leaders. As a plus, I’ll get to be in Iowa Hawkeye territory, and taste Happy Joe’s pizza.
What are you passionate about?
My wife and I love to travel. We have a Prius and we take that thing everywhere. We were in Utah this past summer, we did some camping and hiking in Moab, Arches and Zion National Parks. We lived in Colorado Springs our first two years outside of college so we did a lot of hiking, whitewater rafting, and camping outdoors.
I love to cook. I love to cook for other people. I’m also really focused on eating good foods. We’ve gardened these past two seasons so gardening has become a big passion of ours, picking fruits and vegetables right off the vine. There’s something special about caring for the plants or the vegetation you’re growing, and then eating of that. Food takes on a new meaning. We love to host people, that’s something we really value. I look forward to having a home where we can host dinners. That’s where a lot of those rich conversations happen.
A congregational vote held on Sunday, April 3 affirmed the call of Max Franks as resident pastor at St. Paul.
As resident pastor, Max will take part in St. Paul’s two-year residency program for new pastors. Funded through the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis, it is designed to shape wise pastoral practices in the context of a healthy congregation.