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St. Paul welcomes new associate pastor

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
The Rev. Jonathan Jahnke is the new associate pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge. Jahnke is a native of West Fargo, North Dakota, and gradutated seminary at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Rev. Jonathan Jahnke knew when he was just a kid that he wanted to share the love of God with others. His father, who had grown up as a farm boy, has been a pastor for more than 30 years.

Growing up in West Fargo, North Dakota, Jahnke watched his dad preach at the pulpit every Sunday and felt the deep desire to tell people that Jesus loves them.

“I saw my dad up there every weekend and saw how much he cared about people, how much people appreciated his care and attention,” he said. “Walking through the experiences with my dad and then having them pressed upon me as a kid and believing that very deeply that people need to hear that they’re loved and they’re saved and that there’s a better way of life. That just meant a lot to me.”

Now, years later, Jahnke has accomplished his dream, joining the staff at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge as the associate pastor earlier this month.

“I just felt like that’s where the Lord was leading me, to make an impact on other peoples’ lives,” he said.

Jahnke attended Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, earning his bachelor’s degree in communications. Following that, he went to seminary at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he graduated this past May.

Jahnke and his wife, Danielle, are settling in well in Fort Dodge, he said. The couple is expecting their first child at the end of the month. They first visited the area in May and knew that this is where they would call “home.”

“We had been living in a bigger city for the past four years, so it was a refresher to be in a closer-knit community and a place that has local values and cares deeply about that and I really liked the atmosphere and noticed how welcoming a lot of people were at places we visited, the hotel we stayed at and just really liked the people here.”

St. Paul Lutheran Church is Jahnke’s first assignment as a pastor, one that he’s very much looking forward to.

“I’m most looking forward to settle down and make roots in a place for once,” he said. “Getting to know people, walking with them through the greatest experiences of their life, to the worst ones. And walking through those parts and remembering and talking with them about what does that mean for us as Christians? What does it look like when you have to look death in the face? Or what does it look like when you have to look life in the face? I’m really excited about that.”

As associate pastor, Jahnke will be working with the senior pastor, the Rev. Kendall Meyer, in serving the needs of the church and its congregation.

“I’m very humbled and honored to be a part of this community and this church and I know my wife shares the same sentiment as I do on that front,” he said. “And we’re just extremely excited and thankful that we can be connected to a place for as long as God wants us to be and continue to proclaim God’s love for everyone.”

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