Kelle Nelson-Bunkers to join church family at Our Savior's Lutheran Church
Very few 13-year-old girls decide they want to become ministers, but Kelle Nelson-Bunkers was one of them.
Now her dream will come true when she is ordained as a minister at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lake Oswego Sunday at 4 p.m.
'It's going to be a celebration,' said Nelson-Bunkers, who received the call to serve as Our Savior's new associate pastor of youth and families. 'It's going to be very festive. Lutherans believe you're called to the ministry, but they also believe that call needs a response from a community.'
This gala occasion will draw friends, family and members of the church congregation, along with lead pastor Kim Frentz, associate pastor Art Ellickson, and pastor emeritus Louis Brunner. Even Oregon's Lutheran Bishop Paul Swanson will be on hand to provide his blessing.
Also attending will be the person most responsible for Nelson-Bunkers becoming a minister, Assistant Bishop Zane Wilson. He was the minister of Springfield Lutheran, Nelson-Bunkers' home church, all through her youth, and he is the man who guided her on the path to the ministry.
'He's a kick in the pants,' praised Nelson-Bunkers. 'He's an ex-Marine, he's a former chief of police in Lake Oswego. He's loud, sometimes obnoxious, and he's wonderful. He considers me a daughter, one of his girls.
'It's not often a 13-year-old girl will come up and say she wants to become a pastor, but he put me in situations where I could see what a pastor does, not just preach the sermon on Sunday. That was pretty inspirational for me.'
A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University with a degree in religion and philosophy, Nelson-Bunkers is married to Shawn Bunkers and is the mother of two young sons. She attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Prior to accepting the call at Our Savior's, she was chaplain at Emanuel Hospital and served a year-long internship at Redeemer Lutheran in northeast Portland.
As for her coming to Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Nelson-Bunkers said, 'I think they liked my enthusiasm and the fact that I am at the start of my career, not the end.'
'Kelle has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. She is very upbeat, charismatic and people are drawn toward her,' Frentz said. 'She has a warm smile and an infectious personality. Kelle is very encouraging and uplifting with people.
'As for our staff here, she's going to bring a different perspective, because she is young and a female.'
Nelson-Bunkers will be directing a thriving youth program that has 50 high school students as members. She plans to focus on that age group's great interest in relationships and 'finding God in people.' She also wants to begin a college-age ministry.
'That's a difficult age because they're all so busy,' Nelson-Bunkers said. 'But I would be happy to see such a ministry happen.'
While Nelson-Bunker's ordination will be a celebration, it will also represent something of a passing of the guard to the next generation. Both Swanson and Wilson will be retiring this year, and the future of the Lutheran Church in the 21st century will soon be in the hands of young ministers like Nelson-Bunkers.
Our Savior's Lutheran Church is located at 2000 Country Club Road in Lake Oswego. For more information about the church, call 503-635-4563.