5

Welcome Mark Niethammer

News | July 3, 2024

This month, Pastor Mark Niethammer will begin his time at St. Paul as the 9th senior pastor in St. Paul’s 142-year history. Get to know a little about Mark and his family before his arrival later this month.

Tell us about your family/where you grew up/went to college 
I was born and spent the first six months of my life in Iowa City, Iowa where my dad was finishing his medical residency. From there, we moved to central Wyoming where I spent the rest of my childhood.

I grew up in a small Lutheran church. The church was important to us; it carried my family through challenging times. My brother died when he was ten years old. I was seven at the time. The church came to be where I wanted and needed to be. I knew my family and I were loved, supported, and cared for by the congregation.

I attended college at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. The original plan was to pursue music education and become a band teacher. I play piano and saxophone. After the end of my first year in college, I got the itch that seminary may be my calling. From there, I changed my major to religion.
After making that change, the greatest thing happened: I found myself in the rehearsal room more. It was so freeing.

I met my wife Malie (pron: Molly) in college, and we were married right after graduation from St. Olaf. From there, we moved to St. Paul, Minn. so I could attend Luther Seminary.

Our daughter Julia (11) is the extrovert of the family. She’s a self-described loquacious, high-energy person. She loves meeting people. She’s very artistic. Music and dance are her outlets of expression. That’s where she finds her joy and energy.

Miles (9 this month) has a very logical, engineering mind but he has this wonderful artistic side. He’s a pianist. He loves drawing and painting and for most of his life, he’s been active in dance.

What makes you, you? 
So much of how I approach the world, my calling, and how I interact with the world around me comes back to the creation stories in Genesis. God made this amazing world, and it was good, and people were put here to take care of it. I love the opportunity to explore this creation God made. Despite all the environmental, social, and political challenges we face, this is a good world, and it’s our job to care for it. That informs everything I do; my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, my work. I’m awed by the sense of the beauty of God’s creation, and we get to exist as a part of it.  It informs how I move, create, and exist in this space.

Why did you want to become a pastor? 
I noticed the call during my first year of college. I had a diversely constructed group of friends from all denominations, inside and outside of the church. We spent our Friday nights talking theology. That’s what we would do. There was an unspoken understanding that we weren’t trying to convince each other of anything but we sought to connect and understand how each person’s faith system and beliefs were constructed.

That summer, the church my parents went to had a seminary intern. I told the intern that pastoral care was something I might be interested in. He let me walk alongside him that summer. That’s when I started to hone that call to see if seminary would be the right fit for me.

My world was changed during my third year of seminary. I did an internship at Mt. Olive Lutheran in Minneapolis. It’s a mid-sized church and very progressive. It was there that my pastoral foundations were created. I had some profound experiences that demonstrated the all-encompassing grace of God.

What intrigues you about St. Paul? 
St. Paul has a long history of faithful worship and incredible outward-facing ministries. Its ministry tentacles reach into so many different parts of the neighborhood, the community, the world. I’m intrigued to see where God needs St. Paul to go in the future. We certainly have not exhausted God’s call to ministry. I find myself dreaming of what the next thing for St. Paul will be.

My favorite game is ‘I wonder…’
‘I wonder what we can do with that. I wonder if there is something the church can do to help with that. I wonder what other directions we can go in addition to what we’re doing.’ I’m intrigued by the possibilities of what ministry can be in this place. We have an incredibly gifted staff to lead that ministry.

What are you looking forward to?
The beauty of St. Paul is that my first few months require me to do only two things: Greet as many of our congregation members as possible and build trust with the staff.

I plan to set up as many medium-sized gatherings as possible so I get to know a significant number of people and so the congregation can get to know me a little bit.

This is a church where the pastor doesn’t have to come in ready to change anything or introduce ministries right away. I plan to enter into what’s already here, learn how St. Paul functions, and go from there. Relationship and trust building with the staff are vitally important.

5 Comments on “Welcome Mark Niethammer”

  • Joy Crane

    July 6, 2024 at 11:09 pm

    Welcome pastor Mark niethammer to st Paul Lutheran Church

  • Rolla Lucas

    July 6, 2024 at 10:13 am

    Welcome to the Quad City area.

  • Jean Klinkenberg

    July 4, 2024 at 9:10 pm

    Welcome Pastor Mark, Malie, Julia, & Miles!
    From Jean & Bill Klinkenberg, still Members from The Villages, Florida! Look forward to meeting you in person when we’re back in September!
    As long as you don’t mind snow, you picked a great place to land! 👍😍🎉

  • Barbrie Denato

    July 4, 2024 at 3:47 pm

    Welcome Pastor Mark!

  • Tom Olson

    July 4, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    Welcome to The Quad Cities! Tom and Robin Olson

Leave a Comment