Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
In March, Pastor Mark Weis accepted the call to serve as a professor at Immanuel. The Spokesman caught up with him earlier this month as he was preparing to move to Eau Claire and take up his new duties.
LS: You’re a Florida native. Tell us about your background, family, and your introduction to the CLC.
MW: I was born in Tampa, Florida and grew up in Winter Haven, where I attended Immanuel Lutheran Church and its Christian day school. My family left the Missouri Synod in 1951, and in 1957, along with a few others, became founding members of Immanuel Lutheran in Winter Haven. When Immanuel congregation joined the CLC in 1960, I was only seven. So, I’ve grown up in the CLC.
LS: You attended ILC yourself in the 1970’s. What do you remember about those days, and how does that experience color your thinking as you prepare to return to ILC as a professor?
MW: I attended ILC from 1968 to 1978. Looking back, those were among the best years of my life. Not simply because of the long-time friends I made, but also because of the second-to-none education I received: a quality education grounded in the Word of God. I have such wonderful memories of professors, classes, basketball, choir and tour choir, field day, and playing my guitar at banquet . . . when I couldn’t quite manage to sing the final high note of a song. For me, returning to ILC is like going full circle. And I am truly honored to give back to the school that gave me so much.
LS: What parishes did you serve following your graduation from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary? How did those places—and your pastoral ministry—leave their mark on you?
MW: My first congregations were in Minnesota—at Mt. Olive Lutheran and St. Paul Lutheran in Detroit Lakes and Ponsford, respectively. Next I pastored St. Stephen Lutheran in Hayward, California. After nine years, I left the ministry and spent the next twenty or so years in corporate America, working in marketing and marketing communications. After three downsizings, I moved back to my home-state of Florida in 2010, where I was asked to temporarily pastor a small CLC congregation in North Port. Eventually, I realized that God, in His grace, was calling me back into the public ministry, which had always been my first love. I continued to pastor the south Florida congregation until 2017, when I was called to serve St. Luke’s Lutheran in Lemmon, South Dakota. In every congregation I’ve served, from first to last, I’ve met dear Christian people whose faith has encouraged me, and whose understanding of the Scriptures has helped to enhance my own understanding. I’m grateful to God for allowing me to serve them all.
LS: What skills and insights from your secular career do you bring to your new calling as a teacher?
MW: As mentioned above, I worked primarily in the field of marketing for various companies, some quite large like Time Warner. In this capacity, I learned multiple software programs, honed commercial writing and design skills, and managed large departments and budgets. Time, budgetary, and people management are important skills in any environment. And working in the secular world gave me deeper insight into the type of problems people face on a daily basis. I also spent three years in the Florida Public School System, working with special needs students—a tremendously rewarding experience.
LS: The call to serve as an instructor at ILC is challenging enough, but you’ve also accepted the position of Dean of Students. What are your thoughts about a position which, more than any other, involves such a constant and personal interaction with the students?
MW: I realized the Dean of Students role would be challenging in itself, especially when transitioning to a teaching role and learning new curricula. But I accepted the position because I truly care about ILC and its students. I want to be there for them and, with God’s help, make a difference in their lives. Nothing would please me more than to help students have the same happy, meaningful experience I did as a student at ILC.