SHELDON—Calvary Baptist Church in Sheldon has a new pastor.
Twenty-nine-year-old Zachary “Zac” Patke was handpicked to take over for Pastor Bruce Branson, who retired. Patke officially became the pastor on June 12.
An installation service to commemorate the change will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at Calvary Baptist Church at 823 10th St. in Sheldon.
Patke grew up in Detroit, where his father worked in computer technology and his mother was a nurse. He had one older brother.
In high school, he realized his call to be in ministry after hearing about the decline in missionaries and pastors. After graduation, he went to Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny in 2005 to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies.
His emphasis in Spanish missions took him to Peru for a year to learn Spanish and to explore the Spanish culture, which he described as the best yet hardest year of his life due to the eye-opening experience away from home. He earned his degree in 2009.
Patke attended seminary at Faith Baptist Bible College 2009-11 and began earning a master of arts degree. He married his wife, Hannah, who he met at college, in 2011 and became an assistant pastor to Greg Linscott at First Baptist Church in Marshall, MN.
As an assistant, his main duty was to serve as the youth pastor, which involved planning youth group activities and teaching Sunday School. Patke was ordained after being quizzed on the Bible and assessed by the Marshall congregation in 2016 despite having the flu the morning of his ordination.
While an assistant, Linscott would offer Patke as a substitute for any Baptist pastors around the area who had temporary leave. Last November, Patke volunteered to come to Sheldon while Branson went on a mission trip.
The congregation enjoyed Patke and eventually interviewed Linscott before asking Patke to fill the pastor position at Calvary Baptist Church. Patke said it was “perfect timing” because he had spent two years at First Baptist Church in Marshall and could receive a loan for a house in Sheldon.
“The folks here are fantastic,” Patke said. “I can see their hunger to know the Bible. The people willing to learn and grow are some of the best people. I am excited about getting in and doing work of discipleship.”
The approximately 30-member congregation will be a change from the larger and more culturally diverse congregation in Marshall. Patke also will be in a more prominent leadership position that will allow him to teach the whole congregation while learning from the members. He appreciates the kindness and flexibility of the small church.
“I need them as much as they need me, if not more,” Patke said. “I want to be used to help other people grow spiritually.”
Patke said he still is adjusting to the new congregation and living in Sheldon. He has talked with the members about changing their Vacation Bible School into a soccer camp in which participants could learn soccer skills and about the Bible. Patke and his wife also hope to invite the whole congregation over to their house for food and fun sometime this year.
The Patkes have three children: 4-year-old Daniel, 2-year-old Noah and 8-month-old Jobe. The family recently added two kittens.
For fun, Patke plays with his kids, teaches Daniel to play catch, cheers on the Detroit Tigers, reads and takes his wife on dates. He continues to pursue his master of arts degree at Faith Baptist Bible College through online modules and occasional classes at the college. He hopes to earn the degree by 2019.
Calvary Baptist Church began in 1949 as a weekly home Bible study conducted by Sibley Baptist Pastor Peter Wiens. Eventually, the group grew and moved to the Memorial Room of the Sheldon Community Building.
In August 1956, the church offered two Sunday services and a midweek prayer meeting. The church moved to its current location on April 23, 1961, with Don Howard as the first pastor.
Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. followed by a 10:30 a.m. service. Sunday service also is offered at 6:30 p.m., and a midweek service is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.