By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Pastor Tim Wheatley is settling in to his recent church calling at Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church, having given his first sermon there Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to being at Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church and seeing what God has done here and what He will continue to do in our ministry together,” Wheatley said, his third day on the job.
Originally from Wyoming, MN, Wheatley comes to Cokato from Montevideo, his second call. His first call was in Sunburg, MN, a town of about 100 people located north of Willmar.
Before joining the seminary, Tim was actually on a path toward a double major in biology and chemistry at Gustavus Adolphus when he felt a call to ministry.
It was then that he dropped his chemistry major and picked up a major in religion, graduating in 2001. Tim noted that he was in the freshman class the year a tornado struck the campus over spring break of 1998.
After graduation, Tim went to the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, where he graduated in 2005, with a master’s degree in divinity.
Though he enjoyed the four years in the Chicago area, he was ready to move back home to Minnesota.
“I knew I wanted to live in Minnesota the rest of my life, but I didn’t want to have lived in Minnesota all my life,” Tim said, as to why he chose Chicago for seminary.
Tim has found that he enjoys ministry for several reasons.
The first thing he enjoys is being called to spread the Gospel.
“I get paid to do what I should do [as a Christian] anyway, which is handy,” he commented.
Another aspect he enjoys is the variety the job brings.
“I’ve helped move couches while on the job,” he said.
As a pastor, he is able to work with people of all ages and be a part of people’s lives throughout the entire course of life.
Tim is also the Southwestern Minnesota Synod Coordinator for the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans.
With just a few days on the job at the time of the interview, Tim and his wife, Mary, were settling in well with the church and the community.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting the people,” Tim said. “The community has been very welcoming and I look forward to forgetting their names a couple more times before I get them right,” he said jokingly. “Please feel free to introduce yourself again.”
When it comes to joking around on the pulpit, he said it depends on the occasion and what is appropriate.
“Whatever communicates the Gospel effectively, that’s how I try to teach,” he said, explaining that everyone learns differently.
As far as what he can bring to the church, Tim said, “. . . enthusiasm, my own faith journey, and my excitement to join the community.”
Tim and Mary have two children, Elijah, age 5; and Annalise, age 3.