Trinity Lutheran Pastor Seth Kaiser Accepts Call To Michigan Church

Seth Kaiser served as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Glenwood for over 12 years. He has accepted a call to be pastor at a Lutheran church in Bay City, Mich.

For Seth Kaiser, the opportunity to work alongside a Christian school was the deciding factor in his decision to accept a call to become pastor at a church in Michigan and leave the pastoral position he’s held for 12 years at Trinity Lutheran Church in Glenwood.

“The kicker of the deal, and this is the only reason I would ever consider going anywhere, and the congregation here knows it, is that they have a pre-school through 8th grade,” Kaiser said during an interview last week. “They have a thriving Lutheran School. I have always been a huge proponent of Christian education.”

Kaiser was contacted by the Michigan church in August and asked if he would consider taking part in a preliminary interview for the position. He was one of six pastors under consideration. Trinity Lutheran Church in Glenwood and Kaiser’s new church, Trinity Monitor Lutheran Church in Bay City, Mich., are both part of the Missouri Synod,  the second-largest body of Lutheran churches in the United States. The church in Glenwood is part of the synod’s Iowa West District and Trinity Monitor is part of the Michigan district.

“They go through names from their district office. You’re asked if there is any reason now why you would not consider receiving a call,” Kaiser said. “They want to weed out guys who have extenuating circumstances and not able or have no desire to leave their position at this time.”

Kaiser said he wasn’t looking to leave his church in Glenwood,but agreed to be interviewed.

“I don’t have a desire to leave here, even now, which sounds strange,” he said. “But, I’ve always felt unless there is specific circumstances to say, ‘Nope, I can’t go,’ you need to leave room for the Holy Spirit to do His work.

“That’s how I answered the call, I’m not considering going anywhere, but if I get a call, I’ll give it consideration.”

The 30-minute interview was conducted online via Zoom. Immediately after the interview, Kaiser told his wife Kate  he had a hunch the church would extend a call.

“She said, ‘How do you feel about that?’ I said, ‘Not great,’ because I knew what the implications of that meant (leaving his congregation in Glenwood).

Two weeks later, following a meeting of Trinity Monitor’s voting assembly, Kaiser was notified that he was the overwhelming choice to become the church’s new pastor.

After prayer and discussions with his family, he accepted the call.

“This is a church that has been without a pastor for three and one-half years,” Kaiser said. “Their previous pastor was there 20 years and retired in October 2019. They had an interim pastor and others come in to help just to make sure they’re still doing church.”

Kaiser said despite being without a full-time pastor, both the church and school at Trinity Monitor are thriving.

“Without a pastor leading the way, the congregation on their own took ownership of it and said, ‘We know we do this well so let’s put our heart and soul into this. This is what we’re all about.’ That’s hugely appealing to me,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser noted that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, enrollment at the school has grown significantly.  

“The school is at the forefront of what they do,” he said. “The pastor’s office isn’t in the church. It’s in the school right next to the hallway where the children walk up and down every day going to class. For three years, the light has been off in that office. That’s a pretty strong pull for me.”

Kaiser’s wife, Kate, is leaving her full-time position as the on-site coordinator for Boys Town’s hearing school for pre-schoolers and is taking a part-time special education position at one of the other Lutheran schools in the Bay City area. They have four children – Judah (10), twins Lois and Virginia (3) and Esther (20 months). The part-time position will allow her to spend more time with their children.

“She’s ready to enjoy being a mom a couple more days a week,” Kaiser said.

Telling members of the Trinity Lutheran congregation that he’s led and served for over a dozen years was difficult for Kaiser. He first came to Trinity Lutheran in 2009 as a vicar (pastor in training) and was installed as pastor in August 2010, replacing the retiring pastor Robert Lindau.  

“It was a perfect fit,” Kaiser said. “I went from being their vicar to getting installed as their pastor on Aug. 29, 2010.”

His 12-plus years at Trinity Lutheran give Kaiser the distinction of being the church’s longest-tenured pastor. The church has a congregation of about 500 people. His new church has a congregation of about 700. Kaiser said until Trinity Lutheran is able to secure its new pastor, the church will get assistance from a vacancy pastor from Council Bluffs.

For Kaiser and his family, leaving Trinity Lutheran won’t be easy.

“What I’ve been saying and I believe this to be true, we’re leaving as family. We really are,” he said. “This is the place where all my children have been born and they’ve all been brought up and baptized in this church.”

Kaiser said he wants to be remembered in Glenwood as a pastor that was “faithful to the Word.”

“I was an under shepherd to the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is the groom and they are the bride - the church. I think maybe sometimes I got that part confused.

“After being here for a while, you fall in love with your people. That’s OK, but it makes the time to go tough. These people are near and dear and you’re saying goodbye to all of them.”

The Opinion-Tribune

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