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Installation Sunday for new Hardwick pastor

Lead Summary
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Mavis Fodness

Sunday service at Zion Lutheran Church in Hardwick will be a little later than normal to accommodate the installation of a new pastor.
The special service begins at 2 p.m.
The Rev. Jesse Baker fills a two-year vacancy, created when the Rev. Mark Mumme accepted a pastor position in Riverton, Wyoming.
For the past two years, the Rev. Gary Klatt from St. John Lutheran Church in Luverne has been leading Zion Lutheran’s Sunday morning services.
Baker, 26, is ready to serve his first parish.
“I am excited,” he said. “Preaching is a lot of fun.”
Baker follows in the footsteps of two uncles, a cousin and a great-uncle into a pastoral career.
Along with family, the Lino Lakes, Minnesota, native credits experiences in the Lutheran school system as influencers toward attending the seminary.
“Being in that environment allowed me to grow in my faith and helped enforce my decision that I wanted to be a pastor,” he wrote in his biography for the church.
After high school graduation from Concordia Academy in Roseville, Baker attended Concordia University in St. Paul, majoring in theology and minoring in history.
“The experience I had at Concordia St. Paul could never be replaced,” he shared. “The education there was great but more importantly was the learning outside of class.”
Interactions with people propelled Baker to develop interpersonal skills to be an effective pastor.
“I started to develop an even greater love for people,” he said. “I wanted to be around them and help them with troubles even more than I did before.”
His sermons personalize the Bible’s teachings.
“I try to tie messages to real life,” Baker said.
Whimsy and humor often find their way into his messages.
“I always had a wit,” he said.
Baker attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He finished his studies in May.
A vicarage assignment in Pierce, Nebraska, introduced Baker to rural living after growing up in a community of 20,000 people and studying in large metropolitan cities.
Pierce, in the northeast corner of Nebraska, is the county seat with about 1,700 residents.
“I like a rural setting. It’s busy in a different way,” he said.
Instead of noise from thousands of people, Baker enjoys the slower lifestyle pace, open spaces and fresh air.
He likes the outdoors, taking walks and riding bike.
Hardwick is a smaller community than Pierce, but the seminary staff thought the community of 200 residents and Zion Lutheran Church would be a good fit.
Baker moved into the parsonage Monday with the help of his parents, Steven and Cheri, and his brother John. He also has another brother, Jason.
His ordination took place in June at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Circle Pines, Minnesota.

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