Mark Stromberg '74
Even when Mark was young, he felt a call into Christian ministry. His time at Minnehaha confirmed that call, particularly as he reflects back on his time at the school: He was given opportunities to lead. There were teachers who encouraged him to use his gifts.
“I was encouraged and cheered on to grow in my faith,” Mark states. “Teachers wove their own faith into their teaching in a natural way. It didn’t feel forced or manipulative to me. Rather, the general tone and feeling was that you could talk about your commitment to Christ. You could ask questions and be taken seriously.”
Mark grew up attending First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis. At that time, the overwhelming majority of his friends at church also went to Minnehaha. The same kids did many things together at both the church and school. This unique dynamic of sharing so much of life with friends gave him a great sense of community and consistency in his own faith journey.
After receiving an undergrad degree and two graduate degrees, Mark reflects that some of the very best teachers he has ever had were at MA: Herr (Guido) Kauls was an excellent–and demanding–German teacher, but so joyful and enthusiastic. Barb Olson and Janet Johnson (both English teachers) gave him a love for reading and thinking deeply about the things he was asked to read. “I am a voracious reader and I credit that to my MA English teachers.” Harry Opel strove for excellence and would admonish the Singers, “You are singing this for the one person out in the audience that actually knows the piece–if you hit them, you will hit everyone.” Mark thinks of this often in his current role as Superintendent for the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “If you strive to do your best, it helps you to connect with everyone.”
Called to Serve
As a Minnehaha student, Mark had no idea that he would go on to pastor Covenant churches, and ultimately serve as Northwest Conference Superintendent. Minnehaha Academy was founded by the Northwest Conference in 1913 and has been a ministry of the conference ever since.
Mark’s experience at MA has given him a deep love for–and a commitment to–Minnehaha. He is particularly mindful that God is allowing him to serve in this particular role at this particular time, in the midst of the explosion and the reimagining of the future of MA. He believes God led him to this point for a reason and it is not a coincidence. Mark’s current office is directly across the street from the Upper Campus. “Every day when I am at work, I am looking out at MA. I feel I’m not very far from home and I pray for the school every day as I see it out our office windows.”
Wisdom to Share
Mark’s advice for current students? “Pay attention to what you’re experiencing. Don’t take your time at Minnehaha for granted. In a classroom with your friends, out on the ball field, during musical rehearsals and performances, or whatever else you are doing; take a minute and think about the moment. Make a mental snapshot in your mind’s eye. Thank God for the opportunity you have to be at such a great school. The more memories you deliberately make, the more appreciative you will be. You won’t always be together. Pay attention each day. As you get older and have more years of living behind you, you will be grateful that you did.”