I grew up in Willmar and Madison, Minnesota. From about age 11 I felt that God was calling me to be a pastor. I attended Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota and Concordia Senior College, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. My seminary training was at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and completed my vicarage (seminary internship) right here at St. Mark’s (in 1979-80). I met my wife, Donna Schwarz, that year and we were married when I graduated from seminary. Since graduating in 1981, I’ve served congregations in northwest Iowa, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Girard, IL. While there, the congregation generously supported me as I improved my professional skills in the Doctor of Ministry program at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, earning my D.Min. in 1992.. The Lord called me back to serve as St Mark’s Senior Pastor in 1996. Our son Kory has also graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and is Associate Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To relax I enjoy reading, calligraphy, bicycling and fishing.
Pr. Bedard has served for almost 26 years in congregations in Minnesota, Virginia, Oregon, Louisiana, and Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon in 1982; a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri in 1988; and in 2009 completed his Doctor of Ministry studies and practicum in Outreach Leadership at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He is married nearly 31 years to Julie nee Schwarz, the Director/Teacher of the Early Childhood Center at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church & School in Collinsville, Illinois. Kelly & Julie have three children: Jana of Newport Beach, CA; Brock of New Orleans, LA; and Micah of Houston, TX. Pr. Bedard is an avid runner/exerciser and enjoys golf, yard work, baking, and cooking.
God the Father is creator of all that exists. God the Son, Jesus Christ, became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings. He rose to life again in victory over sin, death and Satan. God the Holy Spirit creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.
Part of being “Lutheran” means that we believe that the Bible is God’s Word. We accept the Bible-based, Christ-centered teachings of Martin Luther and his colleagues as the correct interpretation of God’s Word. They inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 1500s. Luther’s teaching is summarized in three short phrases:
God loves all people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly. Salvation is the free gift of God’s grace (undeserved mercy) for Christ Jesus’ sake alone.
By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased forgiveness of sins and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the forgiveness of sins, new life and salvation that it offers. God the Holy Spirit creates this faith (belief, trust) in Christ through the Good News message of the Gospel.
The Bible is God’s Word. Because God Himself inspired the Bible, it is without error and completely reliable. In it God reveals two great messages: His Law (God’s will for how we are to live — yet when we do not follow His will, God’s law shows us our sin); and His Gospel (the Good News of forgiveness for our sins, new life, and salvation in Jesus Christ). This Bible is the only source for Christian life and church practice.
Organized in 1874, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was established to serve the growing German Lutheran community around Steeleville. The new congregation grew rapidly. The current sanctuary was built in 1897, and enlarged in 1922. Today, St. Mark’s has around 1200 baptized members and continues to meet the spiritual needs for the Steeleville community 134 years after its founding.
“God created…and it was good,” we read in Genesis. All creation is a gift given to us to be used in service and praise to our gracious Lord. God’s gift of music plays an especially important role in our congregation’s worship services. Music is a vehicle to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and a way to respond back to God with our love, praise, and thanks. Here are some examples of the many ways we proclaim the Gospel through music at St. Mark’s.
Stephen Ministry trains lay caregivers (called Stephen Ministers) to provide one-on-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge. Stephen Ministry helps pastors and congregations provide quality caring ministry for as long as people need it.
Once a month a number of members gather to help produce braille Bibles through the Lutheran Braille Workers at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Chester which is a congregation a few minutes south of Steeleville.
For a few months each year, a dedicated group of ladies meets in the Ladies Aid Room at St. Mark’s School and stitch together quilts. The quilts are then taken and donated to a different charity each year. Usually anywhere from 100 to over 200 quilts are made and given away annually.
St. Mark’s Altar Guild is a wonderful group of very dedicated people who work diligently behind the scenes to make sure that everything is in place for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The Altar Guild launders and cares for the altar linens, polishes the silver and brass, sets out the wine and the bread and sets up for worship services.
On the third Sunday of each month, members are encouraged to bring food items or a monetary donation to one of the weekend services for the Steeleville Food Pantry. The Steeleville Food Pantry is graciously operated and staffed from the facilities of Peace Lutheran Church in Steeleville, but is a joint service of all congregations in and around the area.