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International Lutheran nonprofit makes executive transition

Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry names new director

Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry (LPGM), a nonprofit organization started 15 years ago by founders Gordon and Betty Olson, has announced that the Rev. Mark Warpmaeker will be the new executive director, succeeding Gordon Olson. Olson will stay on part-time as a development consultant.
Warpmaeker has served several parishes in recent years, including a suburban church in Houston, Texas; Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior, Minnesota; and, most recently, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of Luther Seminary, St. Paul.

The Rev. Mark Warpmaeker (right) is the new executive director of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, an international faith-based nonprofit located in Minneapolis. Naomi Christensen Staruch, managing director, shares information with Warpmaeker on his first day in the office. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

“Being a pastor helps during a time of transition,” Warpmaeker told Metro Lutheran. “With pastoral changes, the new pastor learns to build on and respect the traditions and practices already developed [in the institution], but also understands that the organization needs to move forward with its volunteer constituency.”
Warpmaeker considers his situation ideal, as Olson will be in the office a couple days a week, and will still be available to answer questions. “Gordon and Betty’s ministry was intentionally relational,” said the new director. “It takes a long time to transition relationships, especially when those relationships are all over the globe.”
Global concerns are not new to Warpmaeker. “When I was in seminary, Lee Snook invited me on a trip to Zimbabwe,” he explained. “I didn’t know why I was going at the time, but, in the end, it really helped me define my calling.
“In Zimbabwe, I saw the church helping people transition after a drought from dependence on outsiders to self-reliance. I then knew that my calling would include such a ministry.”

Experience in congregational partnership

Warpmaeker’s congregation in the Houston area had a pre-existing commitment to partner with a congregation in El Salvador. The Houston congregation committed to supporting a school and clinic financially while members of the local congregation developed the infrastructure to maintain the organizations themselves.
In addition, Mount Calvary had a significant relationship with the Lutheran Church in Nigeria.
Warpmaeker is already planning a trip to India in January 2011. The LPGM board is instituting one slight change in the operating plan of LPGM during this transition. Recognizing how many relationships were made directly with the founders, the board wants to become more “hands on” involved in building international relationships.
That’s great for Warpmaeker. “My favorite part of pastoring was connecting people with their passion for ministry; this board wants to live into that passion.”

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