By Erika Webb
The Rev. Dr. Mark Winkler is easygoing.
First of all, call him Pastor Mark.
Listen to him for three sentences and you will determine he does not take himself too seriously. It's so much easier to trust the message when the trumpeter is gentle, kind and laughs easily.
Emmaus Lutheran Church will welcome its new pastor in an installation service at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at 2500 S. Volusia Ave., Orange City, with Bishop Robert Schaeffer from the Florida/Bahama Synod presiding. A potluck dinner will follow.
The Rev. Dr. Winkler has been a pastor for 24 years, most recently at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Jacksonville.
He received his bachelor's degree in music/trumpet performance at the University of Central Florida, a master's in music at Illinois State University, a master's of divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Columbus, Ohio, and his doctor of ministry from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
"I'm the 'new guy' at Emmaus Lutheran Church, though, at 54, it's hard to feel particularly 'new' at much of anything anymore," Pastor Mark announced in a letter introducing himself to the community.
"I bring to Emmaus a background in pastoral care, with an appreciation for music and worship mixed in," he wrote. "I have a deep love for the Holy Scriptures and preach with my Bible in hand. As I like to tell the people here, "I'm going to turn you into a church full of Bible-totin,' scripture-quotin' Lutherans."
But be not afraid. He's not likely to beat anyone over the head. His message is one of comfort:
"God is so good to us. He has given us the gift of life through the life and death and resurrection of his own Son. I believe it is incumbent on each of us to live out our Baptismal calling by sharing God's love with as many people as we possibly can find it in our hearts to touch. When people respond to this calling, God's Word is lived out daily and God's kingdom here on earth is strengthened." Pastor Mark explained.
His urge to minister is multifold.
"I was born into the Lutheran church. My father was a Lutheran pastor," he said. "I have always felt God has given me a heart for seeing people in their pain and reaching out, ministering to them in their time of need."
The pastor has a background in crisis care. He served for more than nine years as a police, fire and EMT chaplain in Minnesota, offering his experience at the city, county and state levels.
"It was intense, but so is life. God is present with us in all our moments -- the good and the bad," he noted. "We are -- all of us -- at our best when we reassure one another with the good news that, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved' (Romans 10.13)."
Pastor Mark and his wife, Carol, dated in college. They went their separate ways, reunited and were married 18 months ago.
Mrs. Winkler is a senior accountant for St. Louis-based Stephen Ministries, a one-to-one care ministry.
"Together, Carol and I love to go for long walks and bike rides. We love to cook and spend time with family and friends, and I think we'd spend every free minute at Disney World if we could," Pastor Mark said.
Between them they have four adult children, Nicole, Stephanie (and her husband, Atanas), Josh and Ben, all of whom are well accomplished and have given the couple many reasons to rejoice.