2017 Community Volunteer Award Recipient
Pastor Mark Petersen
- Son of Jerry and Joan Petersen
- Brother of Joel, Paul and Steven
- Husband of Peggy
- Father of Jocelyn and Briana
- Papa to Avery, Carson, Norah and Chloe
- Former Pastor at Covenant Lutheran Stoughton
- Interim Pastor for the South Central Synod of Wisconsin ELCA
- Interim Pastor at Jefferson Prairie Lutheran in Poplar Grove, Illinois
- Spiritual Guide
Mark continues to serve in each of these dimensions with the exception of Covenant in Stoughton. Over the past thirty-five years he has been the pastor of five ELCA congregations. He left parish ministry for two specialized ministries – Interim Pastor in the SCSW and spiritual guidance. Together with Peggy they have made their home in Stoughton and have two adult daughters, Jocelyn and Briana who married amazing guys named Kevin and Chris. They have birthed into this world four beautiful grandchildren: Avery, Carson, Norah and Chloe. The call for “Papa or Meema/Grandma” will make them smile and their hearts sing. These are what Mark would say are his greatest legacy of life.
From his Internship at First Lutheran on a Native American Reservation in Wolf Point, Montana, to a two-point ministry in Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove, WI, to St. Peter in Sheboygan and finally at Covenant in Stoughton, he was blessed with serving a variety of congregations with amazing gifts. In each congregation he grew immensely as a pastor. For him, an effective pastor is one who serves not just the church he is called to, but the entire community. Actually he draws energy from both.
Over the years, being trained in faith based organizing, Healthy Congregations, Spiritual Guidance and Interim Ministry has helped cultivate his passion for congregations working together for the common good of the community. So when people like Kay Davis, Sharon Mason-Borsma and Kelly Janda stopped on a Wednesday evening before confirmation classes and asked if he would be interested serving on the board of START – it was an instant “yes.”
After the tornado ripped through areas of our community in 2005, Mark was active in the area ministerial and became a part of the long-term recovery process as a communication link with area clergy. During the recovery he also served on the executive board of START and realized through the collaborative efforts within the community – this natural disaster opened up a need for a community chaplain program.
Ten years ago, Mark and Lieutenant Pat Conlin helped develop a chaplain program for the Police, Fire Department and EMS. With the support of the city this opened new doors of learning about serving as a chaplain to men and women of the front lines of serving Stoughton.
With a nudge from Mayor Donna Olson and the past Fire Chief Marty he was asked to participate in the QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) program. This is a CPR training for people who stand in the gap with others contemplating suicide. This happened during a year when an unreasonable number of suicides took place in the community. It deeply affected police, fire and EMS folks along with the key leaders in city hall. Mark was prepared to be one of 10 facilitators in the city. He trained a little over 150 people including confirmation youth in area congregations, the staff at Stoughton hospital, the staff at Covenant and people in our surrounding area.
In the past three years Mark has been very passionate about low-income housing and a place for the homeless of Stoughton. HATS or Housing Advocacy Team of Stoughton – is important because “everybody deserves a place to hang their hat!” This became a great focus for faith-based training and energy for the common good of Stoughton.
His heroes reveal a bit of a justice foundation in his ministry. People like Nelson Mandela, Erin Brokovich (Who has the same birthday), Zephaniah Kameeta of Namibia, Arch Bishop Romero and his dearest friend Rutillio Grande, Joseph and Joyce Elwanger, Bishop Peter Rogness, and an old friend from Columbia named Manuel Sanchez. All are people who were/are courageous and deeply respected for their voice and action within their communities. Their inspiration propels him to serve actively in whatever community he serves as pastor and when challenges arise he uses their witness to hang in there.
Mark served on the board of START for 12 of the 14 years while serving at Covenant – he says “START has been one of the most rewarding teams to serve in a cooperative effort with so many partners.” Churches working together for the common good of Stoughton is the START pedigree or lineage; it also brings joy, energy and vitality to his heart.