Senior Pastor Call Updates


The Call Committee has concluded its latest round of work on February 26th and presented their recommendations to the Board of Directors on February 28th.

Therefore, we are ready to proceed by holding a Nomination Meeting on Sunday, March 19 following the 10:45 service. At this meeting the Call Committee will be formally nominating two pastors whom they feel God has led us to consider for our next Senior Pastor. They will present information on these two pastors at this meeting so that the congregation can make an informed decision at the Election Meeting the following Sunday. At this Nominating Meeting, we will also open the floor to any further nominations. We will follow the same procedure as last time for any floor nominations (as defined at the June, 2016 congregational meeting). That is, any nominations from the floor will be considered an amendment of the call committee’s nominee list and would debated and passed with a 2/3 majority.

The Call Meeting will be on Sunday, March 26 following the 10:45 service. At this meeting the congregation will choose a candidate from those nominated at the Nominating Meeting to be called for our Senior Pastor position.



* Over the last several weeks, the Call Committee has listened to multiple sermons and reviewed extensive information for the latest slate of Senior Pastor candidates.

* The committee invited three of the pastors to participate in a 30-minute phone conversation.  Two accepted, and one declined (not a good time for him to consider a call).

* The committee just met on Monday, February 13 to conduct these phone interviews and to share reactions.

* For purposes of consistency, the same questions from the prior round of interviews were used once again.

* The committee is actively praying and reflecting on its findings and plans to arrive at a recommendation by February 28, when the Board of Directors next meets.


1/20/17: The Call Committee met January 10 and will meet again on January 23 as they continue to evaluate the 13 names received from the Minnesota South District Office.

12/22/16: On Friday December 16, we received 13 new names from the MN South District for the Call Committee to review. The list consists of both congregational and District nominees. The Call Committee will be meeting in early 2017 to evaluate these 13 candidates, as well as reconsider prior candidates, such as Pastor Hutton – the Call Committee’s other previous nominee. After they have vetted the candidate list, they will decide which Pastor or Pastors to put forth as nominees at the next Nominating Meeting. The date for this meeting will be set once we have more clarity on the necessary duration of the Call Committee’s review. As always, we greatly appreciate your prayer and patience in the process!

11/6/16: Because it has been a year since we last received potential candidates from the MN South District, the Board of Directors and Elders felt it was prudent to go back to the MN South District to see if any other candidates have become available over the past year. We began this process by meeting with our Circuit Visitor, Pastor Mike Michalk, on November 2.

If you would like to suggest a new candidate, please contact the church office at 952-474-5181 or or a member of the Call Committee by November 27.

10/23/16: The Board of Directors, Elders, and Call Committee members met on Tuesday, October 18 to discuss the next steps in the process for our Senior Pastor Call. After constructive discussion, the Board approved the following:

  1. Because it has been a year since we last received potential candidates from the MN South District, the Board and Elders felt it was prudent to cast the net again. We will therefore contact the District to see if there are new candidates that we should consider.
  2. The current Call Committee will review these new candidates in the same way they did the first group of candidates.  This process could take until Christmas or potentially a bit longer to complete.
  3. We will then schedule another whole congregation Nominating Meeting where we will follow the nominating process that was approved by congregation at the June meeting. To be clear, at this Nominating Meeting, we will accept the Call Committee’s recommended nominees for the Election Ballot, and we’ll open the floor to any new nominees from the congregation, with a 2/3 majority vote required for any floor nominee to be included on the Election Ballot.
  4. We will hold the congregational Election Meeting (approximately two weeks after the Nomination Meeting), where together we will again elect a Senior Pastor to call.

We will schedule these two congregational meetings when we have a firm idea on the Call Committee’s progress. Please continue to pray over this process, and we thank you very much for your patience!

9/28/16: After Prayerfully consideration, Pastor Birtell declined the call to Our Savior.

9/16/16: Pastor Birtell spent time with Church and School staff and the leadership of Our Savior.

9/15/16: A Dessert Open House was held for the congregation to meet Pastor Birtell and his wife Christie.

8/14/16: After the Call Meeting, a call has been extended to Pastor Brad Birtell. Pray for his current Call to St. John Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska and for the Call Our Savior extended to him. We pray for that God’s will be made clear to Pastor Birtell.

7/24/16: There was a Nomination Meeting on July 24 and two candidates that were nominated. The pastors that were nominated are Pastor Brad Birtell and Pastor Aaron Hutton. Continue to pray for this entire process and the man God has already chosen to be Our Savior’s Senior Pastor.

7/3/16: A Nomination Meeting was scheduled for Sunday, July 24 at 12:15pm. A Call Meeting will take place on Sunday, August 14 at 12:15pm. Both meetings will be held in the sanctuary. Continue to pray for this entire process and the man God has already chosen to be Our Savior’s Senior Pastor.

6/26/16: At the semi-annual congregational meeting, we heard about the steps for the upcoming Nominations and Call Meetings for calling a Senior Pastor.

6/10/16: A few weeks ago, we informed the Congregation that we would be holding a Congregational Meeting on June 5 to formally nominate candidates for our Senior Pastor position. After careful consideration and direct feedback from some members of the congregation, we decided it would be in the best interest of the Congregation to take more time to further educate ourselves about the next phase of the call process.

Our goal from the beginning of this process has always been make sure that we are following the process correctly. Thus far, we have taken advice from the Minnesota South District (MNS), and we have used our collective energy and wisdom as church members and church leaders to progress to the point we are at today. A lot has been accomplished, and importantly, we have allowed everyone time to pray for all of us every step of the way.

So where do we go from here? We have taken a careful look at our Constitution and Bylaws, particularly Paragraph 3A, which deals with the Calling of a Pastor. This section describes a two-step process that will require two separate Congregational meetings. Step one is formal nominations of candidates, and step two is the definite election of one of these candidates, whom we will then call. At this next regularly scheduled Congregational meeting on Sunday, June 26 at 12:15pm, we will be describing in great detail how the nomination and election meetings will work. We have not yet set the dates for the nomination and election meetings.

The Call Committee spent several weeks examining, discussing and praying over 34 candidates, which were submitted by the congregation and the MNS. They will present a formal report about their work, and the screening process to verify credentials and determine each candidate’s readiness to receive a divine call from Our Savior. After their formal report, the congregation will have the opportunity to nominate candidates from the floor. To be clear, all nominees will be put forth in the form of a motion from the floor (that means you, the voters).

Watch for the upcoming meeting dates.

6/1/16: Come to the regularly scheduled congregational meeting on Sunday, June 26 at 12:15 to hear the next steps in the call process.

5/8/16: Through considerable prayer, reflection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Call Committee has arrived at two Senior Pastor candidates whom it would like to share with the congregation at this time. It is the Committee’s desire to provide the congregation with as much insight into its research and findings about these two men as possible.

There will be two identical information sessions in the Sanctuary for you to learn more about the candidates. The same information will be presented at both sessions followed by a time for questions and answers. We hope you can attend one of these sessions: on Sunday, May 22 at 12:15pm and Wednesday, may 25 at 6:30pm.

4/14/16 The field of 34 candidates has been narrowed down to seven and telephone interviews have just recently been conducted with these candidates. We had great 30 minute conversations with these potential shepherds of Our Savior and feel confident that our future is bright and we will be calling an outstanding new senior pastor. Follow-up meetings will take place soon involving discussions with District President Dean Nadasay, and then narrowing the number of candidates even further. The call committee hopes to make final candidate names and bios available to the congregation within the next month or so. Feel free to ask any call committee member questions about this process. After you have had time to “learn about” the final candidates, you, the congregation will vote to offer a call to our new shepherd. Please keep the call committee, and our pastoral candidates in your prayers.


  • The call committee has already met five times during the first three months of 2016.
  • The committee has used these meetings to research, review and discuss the 34 Senior Pastor candidates who were presented to Our Savior by President Nadasdy.
  • The vetting process has consisted of diligent review of written materials provided to us by the LCMS MN South District, independent online research, and acquiring and listening to sermon audio.
  • Having now trimmed the list down to seven candidates, the committee is now ready to conduct 30-minute, first-round phone interviews with the remaining pastors. The committee will be contacting the pastors for purposes of scheduling shortly after Easter, with the intention of holding all seven interviews the week of April 11.
  • Completion of these phone interviews will move us one step closer to recommending a final slate of candidates for the congregation’s consideration.
  • We ask for your continued patience and prayer as we work through this process in a deliberate, yet efficient, manner.


  • With the holiday season now behind us and 2016 well underway, the Call Committee is working diligently to carefully vet each of the 34 Senior Pastor candidates who were presented to Our Savior by President Nadasdy.
  • The committee met on January 13 and 27, and will reconvene again on February 9, to share and discuss candidate research performed by members of the committee.
  • This will be an iterative process of evaluation and deliberation, resulting in the eventual winnowing of the candidate pool.
  • Please continue to pray over this process in the weeks to come!


  • Exciting news!  President Nadasdy has completed our Call List, and the Call Committee has now received it.
  • It is a robust list, to say the least, as it contains 36 names – a combination of both our congregational nominations and additional candidates identified by President Nadasdy.
  • The Call Committee will next meet on Wednesday, December 9 to begin its review of the Call List.
  • Given the large number of candidates and extensive materials for each (i.e., Pastor’s Information Form [PIF] and Self Evaluation Tool [SET]), the Committee will be looking to devise a viable and efficient plan of attack.
  • Please continue to keep this process in your prayers!

10/25/15: On Monday, October 19 the Call Committee submitted, to President Nadasdy of the LCMS MN South District, the results of our congregational self-study questionnaire, including factual/demographic information about our church and surrounding community, perspectives on the current state of OSLCS, and the identification of key attributes for a new senior pastor.

Thank you to all of you who provided helpful input by completing all or part of that survey. The pastoral attributes survey that many of you completed yielded the top-5 priorities:

  1. Faithful to the Scriptures
  2. People Skills
  3. Engaging Teacher
  4. Dynamic Preacher
  5. Communicator

The Call Committee also submitted a complete list of Senior Pastor nominations presented by our congregation. President Nadasdy will now assemble a Senior Pastor candidate list with an accompanying package of information. The list will consist of both our nominations and additional candidates identified by the District based on the key pastoral attributes that we identified.

The candidate identification process will take some time, so please continue to pray over the work of President Nadasdy and the MN South District in the weeks to come. We will notify the congregation as soon as we receive the candidate list.

9/20/15:  At the Call Process Q & A there were two hand outs, the Call Process Q & A and Senior Pastor Attributes. We need your input on the Pastoral Attributes and  nominations for Pastoral Candidates. Pastoral attributes and nominations are due by Sunday, October 4.

9/13/15: There will be a Call Process Q & A on Sunday, September 20 at 7:30pm in the sanctuary where there will be an opportunity to hear about the entire call process for a Senior Pastor. The Call Committee, Pastor Mark Neumann and the Circuit Visitor, Pastor Michalk, will be on hand to answer all your questions.

9/6/15: The congregation is welcome and encouraged to nominate candidates to serve as the Senior Pastor. Contact the church office with any names you wish to recommend. They will be considered along with names received from the District Office. The Call Committee will be evaluating all the candidates and along with the church staff, will be interviewing them. The congregation will then vote on the top candidates and a call will be placed to the individual the congregation has chosen.

Please be patient, as this is a thorough and deliberate process that could take 1-2 years. Most importantly pray for this entire process. Pray for God’s guiding hand to lead us to the Senior Pastor He has already chosen for Our Savior. The Call Committee members will be wearing bright yellow name tags on Sunday mornings. Please don’t hesitate to share your questions and comments.

8/16/15: The Call Committee held it’s first meeting on August 11. Marlene Doheny and several members from the prayer team opened the meeting by praying wonderful and thoughtful prayers that set an excellent tone for the first meeting. God is certainly at work in this call process! The purpose of this meeting was to get organized and begin the first steps that will eventually lead to the calling of a Senior Pastor. The committee appointed Steve Petrie as chairperson. His knowledge and experience as the former Board President along with his organizational and leadership skills will be valuable during this process. The Call Committee members are:

  1. Steve Petrie (Chairperson)
  2. Dana Heldt (Board of Directors)
  3. Gregg Hove (Head Elder)
  4. Paul Niebuhr (Elder)
  5. Joel Renner (Member)
  6. Karla Frigard (Member)
  7. Dave Fine (Member)
  8. Sarah Thomas (Member)

Our next meeting will be with a representative from the Minnesota South District to begin the search process. Anyone can nominate a candidate, so if you have a pastor you would like the committee to consider, please contact the church office.

8/9/15: The Board of Directors, with input from the Elders has established a Call Committee consisting of nine members of the congregation. Over the next several months, this committee will work with the Minnesota South District to find a permanent senior pastor for Our Savior. This process will require a lot of patience and prayer. Marlene Doheny has volunteered to lead a prayer team through this entire call process. If you would like to join Marlene on this team.

Members of the Board of Directors and the Elders have had several meetings with the goal of finding a Vacancy Pastor. The Vacancy Pastor is not a permanent replacement, but an experienced Pastor who will fill the Senior Pastor role from the time Pastor Zahrte moves in late August, to the time we have found our new Senior Pastor through the call process. After reviewing candidates provided to us by the District, we will be extending an offer for this role to Pastor Mark Neumann in the coming days. Pastor Neumann was the top recommendation from the District and he has also preached at Our Savior in the past as guest pastor. Please pray that he accepts our offer!

7/19/15: The Board of Directors, with input from the Elders have put together a list of names to serve on the Call Committee. The plan is for this Call Committee, along with the Minnesota South District President, to have its first meeting the first week of August.The Board also discussed the Vacancy Pastor position at length and will be working with the District President to fill this role in the next few weeks. The Vacancy Pastor is not a permanent replacement, but an experienced Pastor who will fill the Senior Pastor role from the time Pastor Zahrte moves in late August, to the time we have found our new Senior Pastor through the call process.

7/5/15: On June 30, the Board of Directors, the Elders, and other church staff joined Pastors Zahrte and Schroeder to meet with Dean Nadasdy, President of the Minnesota South District of the LCMS. The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about the steps we need to take to fill our Senior Pastor role once Pastor Zahrte leaves for his call to Ohio. In the coming weeks we will be working toward formulating a plan, and you will receive weekly updates as we progress. Please continue to pray for our church as we embark upon this new journey!