January Lighthouse 2024

Annual Report 2022-23

Pastor’s Welcome Fund

Greetings St. John’s UCC community, we have an exciting and important update regarding our new pastor Nathan Holst. We are asking for your support to prepare and aid in the transition for our new pastor and his family who will be arriving on the Island mid-August. Please read our announcement to see how you can help!

Pastoral Candidate Update

Dear Members and Associate Members of St. John’s UCC on Madeline Island,

I have great news to share! The St. John’s Search Committee, after a diligent and thorough search, has unanimously and wholeheartedly come to us with a recommendation for a Pastoral Candidate! The Council has reviewed their recommendation and unanimously offered the call to St. John’s, pending congregational approval. The Search Committee approached the intricacies of this process, “all the while praying for guidance and discernment in our mission.” They fully believe that those prayers have been answered with this candidate.

I would like to give you some background on the selected candidate, however, we still must keep his identity protected until he has been voted in as our new pastor. He initially received his BA in social work and religion at Concordia College in Moorhead. He achieved a Master’s of Social Work at Portland State University, subsequently serving as a community social worker and Youth Director at a Lutheran church in Portland. During this period, he also initiated a comprehensive racial training program for a local organization and became deeply engaged in the work of bringing greater social justice into the world.

As a person, he is passionate about “creating spaces, and building bridges.” He is passionate about his family and the natural world. He is a talented musician who incorporates song and music into his preaching. His wife is a theologian, a teacher, and a talented visual artist. Along with their two young sons, they are excited about coming to St. John’s, Woods Hall, and Madeline Island. His references were enthusiastic about his abilities as a minister. One noted that he was “eminently qualified to be a minister…social, racial, and ecological justice are a core part of his approach to life and ministry….and that he takes people where they are at, hears their stories, and engages them from their point in life and faith.”

Another reference said that he “will help St. John’s be what it wants to be.” She characterized him as being a “warm, open, authentic, tender-hearted human being who approaches others in a ‘let’s learn together’ way.”

The pastor that he has most recently worked with at his current church noted that he “has great pastoral care instincts…crafts his language carefully and is a voice for equality.” Asked if would hire this candidate, he quickly answered, “I would hire him as my first, second, and third choice!” For the past seven years, our candidate has served as the Faith Formation Minister at his church. Upon recently completing his “multiple paths to ordination” track with the Minnesota UCC Conference, he was unanimously “approved for ordination pending call” by the congregation he is serving, which is acting as the Ecclesiastical Council. It is an understatement to say that his resume of experience and training is truly rich and impressive.

Both the St. John’s Church Council and the Search Committee are very excited to be at this stage in the search for our new pastor, and to be looking at this candidate!

In following the process set forth by the United Church of Christ Conference, we have negotiated a Call and Compensation package with the candidate, to go into place once he would receive Congregation approval.

We have set the date for the “Candidating Weekend” for May 20 – 21st. At this time, you will meet the candidate in person, and by name! There will be a “Meet and Greet” time on Saturday afternoon, from 2pm to 4pm at the Lightkeeper’s Lodge, to informally meet the candidate. Then on Saturday evening at 6pm, there will be a Potluck Supper for church members, friends, and the community, with him and his family. He will then preach and conduct our service on Sunday.

Immediately following the service, on May 21st we will hold a Congregational Meeting, during which you will be able to have some dialogue with the Search Committee and Council, and we will conduct our Congregational vote on calling him to be our new full-time pastor. The vote will be conducted both in-person and online for those who are streaming. All St. John’s members and Associate members can vote. In the meantime, neither the Search Committee nor the Council can share any more details about our candidate.

This is the process we are committed to through the UCC Conference. Pastoral candidates most often do not share their engagement in this search process with the current congregation they are serving until they have been voted into their new setting. We all respect this and support a good transition for that congregation as well.

This is a very exciting time for St. John’s and the Madeline Island community. We look forward to your participation in this process with us!


Debbie Knopf

Council President

Mark Your Calendars!

Saturday May 20th and Sunday May 21st

Don’t Miss this Opportunity to meet the Pastoral Candidate and to be a part of making this important decision for St. John’s on Madeline Island!