Archived Story

Baseball to clergy

Published 1:00pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

EMMONS — As a kid, Chris Martin always wanted to be a baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. During his teen years, he realized that wasn’t going to happen, and it was during his junior year of high school he found he wanted to enter the clergy.

Martin, 36, is the new pastor for Emmons Lutheran Church. He started March 1, replacing Julie Fiske, who had been in the role for 12 years until August. Cathi Braasch served in the interim.

“Emmons is a very welcoming community,” Martin said, “more so than any place we had been before we came here.”

Chris Martin is the new pastor at Emmons Lutheran Church, 490 Pearl St. Martin started March 1. --Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
Chris Martin is the new pastor at Emmons Lutheran Church, 490 Pearl St. Martin started March 1. –Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Martin grew up in Perry, Iowa, but his family moved when he was 15 to Garner, Iowa, and he graduated from Garner-Hayfield High School in 1995. He has a bachelor of arts from Waldorf College and attended Concordia College in St. Paul, too. He was ordained as a pastor in July 2008.

Martin served as reverend for three parishes in the McConnellsburg, Pa., area for three years before coming to Emmons, and before that served for a year and a half as the pastor at a church in Audubon, Iowa.

He has a wife, Lindsay, who hails from Manitoba, and a 2-year-old son, Bradon. They also have two dogs, Sadie and Maisy. Lindsay and Chris, have been married since October 2005, wanted to move back to the Midwest to be closer to their families.

In the first year at Emmons Lutheran, the Rev. Martin hopes to build relationships in the congregation and in the community. He said his sermons focus on “the truth of Scripture,” “pointing people to Jesus Christ” and “making the truths in Scripture apply to people.”

Martin grew up in a Lutheran church, and during his junior year of high school a pastor nudged him toward becoming a pastor. That helped him make up his mind about a career path. In summer 2001, he helped with a vacancy at a church in LaVerne, Iowa. It was supposed to be a three-month stint, but the experience affirmed how much he enjoyed bringing the word of God to people.

Martin said he especially likes to help people through their hardest moments, when there is a crisis of faith or when people are grief-stricken. An aspect of Emmons Lutheran he likes is the variety of ages, which means his son has classmates in Sunday school. In Pennsylvania, he was the only child in the congregation.

Emmons Lutheran Church left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in January 2012 and joined the North American Lutheran Church. Like for many ELCA churches, the split came in the wake of the ELCA’s decision to allow openly gay clergy.

Martin said for some congregations that have left the ELCA and for some that have stayed, the issue becomes a divider. However, for Emmons Lutheran, it hasn’t been much of an issue — more of a procedure really. And the small handful of people who opposed the change left the congregation, he said.

There are 584 baptized members at Emmons Lutheran Church.

In turn, the ones who stayed told Martin they really like how with the NALC the people feel more connected to the missions and their missionaries. He said people feel it is easier to keep tabs on the offerings that go to the greater church organization than it was with the ELCA.

As a boy, Martin went to many games in Des Moines for AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs. When he lived on the East Coast, he went to many pro baseball games. Now that he is in Emmons, he is eager to take in a game at Target Field.

Baseball season starts April 1.