Kindling his faith


Mike Wilson, the new pastor at Prineville Presbyterian Church, hopes to build relationships outside the doors

by: JASON CHANEY - Mike Wilson is taking on his first full-time pastor position at Prineville Presbyterian Church.

Mike Wilson knows that the path he took to become the new pastor of Prineville Presbyterian Church was different than most clergymen.

Nevertheless, he considers that an asset as he leads his new congregation going forward.

“I want to use that in order to build relationships with people who are outside the church, to show them a different side of Christianity,” he said.

Wilson began his career in the journalism field in California, where he was news director for radio stations in Ukiah and Yuba City. That later gave way to a lengthy sales career.

His journey to the pulpit seemed unlikely early in his life. He was raised in a mainline church as a child, but as a teen, he stepped away from the church.

“I just said I don’t need this,” Wilson recalls. “I just put distance from it.”

He eventually started attending church after starting a family. He attended an Easter Sunday service in Yuba City, and continued to do so from that point on. Within three years, he ventured into church leadership, becoming an ordained elder.

“That really kindled my faith,” Wilson said. “I’m used to running things, but it got me to look at running things from a spiritual perspective and scriptural foundation.”

He later started teaching Sunday school lessons and participated in mission trips to Mexico, and he partnered with a friend to form the Christian Business Alliance.

“One domino knocked over another,” he said. “It just kept going and going and going.”

In 2007, Wilson took the first steps toward becoming a pastor. He joined his daughter on a trip to San Francisco Theological Seminary, simply to check it out.

“My wife and I wound up going to a discernment retreat for ourselves a year later,” he said. “We enrolled in 2009. It was a four-year program to get a Masters in divinity.”

While completing his education, Wilson served in his home church in San Rafael, Calif., where he later got his first taste of preaching. The pastor of the church took a sabbatical when his wife was battling cancer, and Wilson took his place while he was gone.

“I did an internship there,” he said. “They created an internship for me.”

Wilson graduated this past May and began looking for a church to call home. Prineville Presbyterian ultimately rose to the top of the list.

“Our denomination’s website is kind of like e-Harmony for pastors,” Wilson explained. “It says, here are some people that at least on paper you might want to take a close look at. I was one of those who was suggested. At the same time, I found an opening online, so I self-referred.”

Prineville intrigued Wilson because of its plentiful array of outdoor activities. An avid camper, fisherman, and cyclist, he is eager to enjoy what the region has to offer.

“That was a huge plus.”

As he begins his pastoral journey, Wilson plans to be a transparent leader that incorporates human frailty into his sermons as well as tough questions.

“My belief is that God’s love for us is bigger and tougher than any big, tough questions we have to ask,” he said.

Wilson is eager to lead during what he believes is an exciting time for churches.

“A lot of churches are changing and trying to figure out how to better to relate to the community around them,” Wilson said. “I find that exciting and fascinating because it really opens opportunities for new understandings of how to provide worship and yet remain faithful to scripture. I’m excited to be a part of it.”