The Rev. Mark Vance has been the Interim Pastor at American Lutheran Church in Woodland since May of 2020. As Interim Pastor, he is responsible not only for preaching, teaching, visiting, and administrative tasks but also for helping the congregation to prepare for calling its next pastor. This preparation involves assisting the congregation in answering three basic questions: Who are we? Who is our neighbor? What is God calling us to do?
Pastor Vance was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he was baptized and confirmed in a congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod that his grandparents had helped to start. While earning his Bachelor of Arts in History at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, he joined a congregation of the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After graduation, he served in the US Air Force for four years, most of that at Eielson AFB just outside Fairbanks, Alaska. While in Alaska, he helped to found Lord of Life Lutheran Church at North Pole and Christ Lutheran Church in Fairbanks. He then earned his Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. While in Chicago, he met and married his wife, Beth, who has followed a career working with the developmentally disabled. The couple has a daughter, Sarah, who now lives in Oakland, California, and works for the University of California at Berkeley.
Over the course of 36 years, Pastor Vance was called to serve three congregations: Faith Lutheran Church in Owensboro, Kentucky; St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Batesville, Indiana; and Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church in St. John, Indiana. While in Batesville, he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. His ministry at Holy Shepherd lasted 26 years; and he led that congregation through rapid membership growth, two building programs, numerous staff changes, and a variety of program innovations. He retired in 2016, and he and Beth moved to the Sacramento area to be closer to their daughter.
In retirement, Pastor Vance did interim work at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills and New Hope Lutheran Church in Foresthill before coming to Woodland. He also has done Sunday morning pulpit supply in about a dozen northern California congregations and has a regular commitment to preach once a month at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento. A member of Advent Lutheran Church in Citrus Heights, he chairs the Stewardship Team in that congregation. He is Secretary of the Lutheran Development Society of Sacramento, which awards annual grants to Lutheran congregations that enable them to start new ministries (American in Woodland has received a number of these.). Pastor volunteers at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmichael and is Treasurer of that hospital Guild’s Board of Directors; and he is a volunteer usher at Harris Center for the Performing Arts in Folsom.
Pastor Vance joins all the members of American Lutheran Church in welcoming new people to worship and serve God together through this congregation. Come as you are, and you will be loved, supported, and transformed!