This is the text from the first Harvest Ministry newsletter article that Pastor Tami wrote for the May 2017 Harvest Ministry Newsletter.
Greetings to everyone at St. John and Salem Lutheran churches. Those I have not yet met, I look forward to meeting soon. It is customary for a new pastor to introduce themselves in a newsletter article; however, I will try to be brief as I prefer sharing and hearing stories in person whenever possible.
I am a Minnesotan at heart, and when you hear me talk about “going home” or to the family farm it is in Southeastern MN in the Mississippi River bluff country areas, with the farm itself being up on the ridge above Winona, MN. My husband Shawn and I lived across the river in La Crosse, WI, prior to moving to seminary and subsequently to western IA, so that entire area feels like home. I have also lived in Decorah, IA, previously as well. Much of my family, including my eldest daughter Megan (19), lives in MN, so that is often the direction I am headed when out-of-town on a trip.
My undergraduate degree is in English, and prior to discerning a call to ministry I worked primarily as a technical writer for software companies as well as doing some website work, including working for Luther College in Decorah for a time. If you think technical writing has no connection to ministry, ask me about it sometime as there are more similarities than one may think! However, my various volunteer positions both in the community and church were also important in my journey towards ministry.
My call story (as they say in seminary) is also tied closely to my personal journey through grief. My second daughter Emily was born still in November 2001, and her death took me on an important grief and faith journey. This journey continued when my first husband divorced me shortly afterwards. Obviously, there is much more to the story of my life during this time, not all of which you will hear me talk about; however, I do openly talk about my daughter Emily and experiences related to her death. Also, these experiences deeply shaped me and prepared me for ministry.
Pastor Tami Groth with her family, husband Shawn Brooks and their daughter Nessa, standing behind Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA
Shawn Brooks and I were married in August 2004, and my faith and call story are also closely tied to his. We joined an ELCA congregation in La Crosse when we moved there together that summer, and throughout our years there our hearts and minds were more opened to the gospel than ever before. We were both, individually and together, called to various ministries and eventually felt called to make ministry our full time vocation rather than an addition to our jobs at the time.
My husband Shawn and I both attended seminary at the same time, graduating in May 2015. Late in the summer of 2015 we moved as a family to the rural Le Mars area as Shawn accepted a call to serve as pastor to both Christ Lutheran in rural Le Mars and St. Peter Lutheran in Brunsville. Our daughter Nessa (12) is now making us promise to not move again until she graduates from high school, and we have assured her that we will do our best as these two Minnesotans are adjusting nicely to living in western Iowa.
My focus throughout seminary was pastoral care, and at the time I discerned a call to chaplaincy and graduated with a Masters in Diaconal Ministry (Word and Service ministry) and was approved for ministry and rostered as a diaconal minister in the Western Iowa Synod of the ELCA after accepting a position as Hospice Chaplain with St. Croix Hospice serving out of their Spencer, IA office from September 2015 until I resigned to take the Harvest Ministry position and serve as your pastor.
The details in the above paragraph mean I have been well-trained in many aspects of ministry, including congregational ministry; however, my seminary degree did not include some of the requirements for ordained Word and Sacrament ministry in the ELCA. This means that initially I am serving as what is called a Synodically Authorized Minister through the Western Iowa Synod as I complete these final requirements while completing additional seminary classes. I will do this while serving full time and, with God’s help, meeting all of your pastoral needs.
This is an exciting and joyous transition for me as I have in recent months discerned in many ways God calling me to minister within a congregation. I do ask for your prayers as I minister among and with you all. God’s peace be with you today and always!
Pastor Tami Groth
Call or text: 608.385.9848
Email me at: tami.harvestministries at gmail.com