Jill Rode has been called to St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church to serve as its new associate pastor.
Rode was born in South Korea and was adopted by Pastor Alfred Rode and his wife, Carolyn, of Cosmos, Minn. She grew up in Tucson, Ariz., where her father accepted a call. She earned a degree in elementary education at the University of Arizona, where she was active in campus ministry, and then spent a year in Thailand teaching English. After returning to the United States, Rode missed Thailand’s “wonderful people and beautiful countryside” so much she went back there to teach. Three years later, she left Thailand to attend Arizona State University, where she received a master’s degree in education. Then she wondered what to do next.
Rode had always felt the pull toministry, she said, and decided to attend Luther Seminary in St. Anthony Park for a year, just to give it a try. She found that she loved preaching, leading worship and teaching, so she stayed on and graduated in 2014. St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church is her first call.
Rode said she looks forward to working with youth and curriculum, connecting with all generations— especially older adults—and reaching out to the greater community, including the surrounding college and seminary communities. She loves the St. Anthony Park community, she said, and enjoys music and singing and is eager to get to know people.
Rode’s wife, Gretchen, is a graduate of Vassar College and Pacific Lutheran Seminary and currently works as the program coordinator for the Houses of Hospitality. (Run by the Presbyterian Church, these two buildings house AmeriCorps volunteers. Gretchen plans community nights for the residents and is their “landlord.”) She also is seeking her first call to be a pastor.
At a congregational town meeting in January, senior pastor Glenn Berg-Moberg said the church chose the person best qualified for the position. Rode’s degrees and work in education, and her openness to other cultures, experience with campus ministry and enthusiasm for working with all age groups make her a good fit for the congregation, he said.
Berg-Moberg and many in the congregation see Rode’s call as a welcome sign of inclusivity.
“This call marks a milestone in our life together,” he said. “We had strong support for this move in a new direction. We have heard from many enthusiastic members who have waited and hoped for a sign of inclusion for same-sex individuals. We have received congratulations on making our life together more inclusive. Many people prayed many prayers for this call process. Some have prayed not just for months but for years that our congregation would usher in this new possibility. I am very happy to begin this new chapter in the life of our church.”
Rode began working the third week in February and was ordained on Feb. 21.