Last month, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church welcomed their first “called” pastor in three years, with the arrival of Pastor Patricia “Pat” Schutz. “Everyone knows me uas Pastor Pat,” she jokes with a smile.
A native of Heartland, Wis. Schutz had lived on Washington Island with her husband Bill for the last 32 years.
She comes to Our Saviour’s as a recent graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA.
“I’ve always felt a calling,” she explains.
“But I had a young family and lived on an island. I thought maybe I was too old, that was until I spoke with my pastor in 2012. He encouraged me to pursue becoming a pastor so I decided to do just that. Wartburg was a good fit for me, as they offered a Master of Divinity program which allowed me to take my first three years of classes online at home,”
Last fall, Pastor Schutz completed a year-long internship at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Beaver Dam. Upon finishing her last year of residential study, Pastor Pat graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary on May 14 of this year.
Our Saviour’s is her first call, after being assigned to the East Central Synod of Wisconsin-part of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
“I received information regarding Our Saviour’s through the Bishop’s office and they received my information once I indicated I was interested,” she adds. The pastor’s first interview with the church was near the end of March. The next step was to officiate a service during the first weekend of April, followed soon after by her second interview. Following a Call Committee meeting and congregation vote on May 7, a call was extended and Pastor Pat accepted. She relocated from Washington Island on June 13, and her first official day at the church was June 15.
“Merrill is much bigger than what I’m used to, given the community of Washington Island is so small,” she said with a smile. “But the community here has been wonderful and very welcoming. Merrill still has that small town feel that I’m used to.”
As for the future, Pastor Pat’s main goals are to familiarize herself with the church congregation.
“My main goal right away will be to get familiar with our congregation and the Merrill Community as a whole. Our Saviour’s was without a ‘called’ pastor for three years. I would like to focus on getting to know our members and build a level of trust, which is very important to me.”