New Presbyterian pastor comes to Merrill, Gleason
Jess Wakefield came to the ministry as a second career, one which has brought him to serve First Presbyterian Church in Merrill and Riverside Presbyterian Church in Gleason.
A native of Janesville, Wakefield worked in dairy nutrition consulting for 34 years before answering his calling to be a Presbyterian minister.
“I always had a sense of calling to the ministry,” he said. “I began that journey while still in consulting.”
While still working in his first career, Wakefield attended seminary in Dubuque, IA. Eight years ago, he was commission to his first position as a pastor at Covenant Community Presbyterian Church in Schofield. Then, this May, he became the sole pastor for the churches in Merrill and Gleason.
Moving from Covenant – the second largest congregation in the denomination – to the much smaller parishes has been an adjustment for Wakefield.
“I’ve found it very warm, friendly and inviting,” he said. “I was wanting to be able to reach out into the community and serve.”
First Presbyterian Church is among the oldest in Merrill, with a 135-year history. The combined parishes in Merrill and Gleason number about 55 members.
Wakefield said he is enjoying preparing for the fall programs at his new churches.
“We’re certainly in a transitional time, from being a Sunday only church to extending programs for spiritual enrichments and being more available to people in the community,” he said.