‘Growing in faith and serving with joy’

Immanuel Lutheran welcomes new pastor

The Rev. Marla Amborn is the new pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Almelund. She is the first female pastor in the church's 126-year history. Randy Amborn, her husband, is involved in the church as well, playing piano, keyboard and guitar music during services.

The Rev. Marla Amborn is the new pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Almelund. She is the first female pastor in the church’s 126-year history. Randy Amborn, her husband, is involved in the church as well, playing piano, keyboard and guitar music during services.

When the Rev. Brian Bergin retired as pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Almelund last year, the congregation took time to draft a mission statement before calling a new pastor: “A welcoming community, rooted in Christ, growing in faith and serving with joy.”

That mission statement appealed to the Rev. Marla Amborn.

Amborn, 52, of White Bear Lake, is celebrating her first 100 days as the new pastor of Immanuel Lutheran.

Her journey to become the church’s pastor — the only female one in the church’s 126-year history — started when she was a high school student in Fond du Lac, Wis.

She said she felt called to ministry at a young age, but also wanted to have a family.

In her mid-20s, she was accepted at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, but she said the time wasn’t right for her to pursue a religious education.

“At that time, it just didn’t work,” she said. “I wasn’t married, and I couldn’t afford to pay for it, and I kind of got the sense, ‘When the time is right, I’ll know.’”

Fast-forward about two decades, and the time was right.

She started at Luther Seminary in 2006, going to classes part time while she worked, and graduated last year around the same time as her daughter, Marissa, graduated from high school.

After graduation, there was about an eight-month lull while Amborn looked for churches that might accept her as pastor.

She visited Immanuel Lutheran during that time and fell in love with the quaint country church.

She then started the “call” process with them and was named the new pastor in January.

“I have really enjoyed it,” she said of her first few months as pastor. “The people have been very, very welcoming and eager to help out. I think they’ve been excited by the idea of having a new pastor.”

She noted the feeling of community is strong among the parishioners of the church.

She said her first week at the church, she had to preside over funeral services for Jim Swenson, a well-known and well-liked former member of the congregation.

Around 350 people attended the services, and Amborn got to experience the close-knit community during the funeral.

“They served with joy, even in the midst of this difficult tragedy,” she said.

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