“It’s just like a wishbone, you’re getting pulled in two directions, and one of them is going to win. Both are important,” said Pastor Nathan Zastrow of Peace Lutheran Church in Milbank and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Summit. Zastrow will soon be leaving the congregations he has led since June 2013. He and his wife, Anne, have accepted the call to a new church, Grace Lutheran, in Yakima, Washington.
Grace Lutheran had been searching for almost a year before they chose Pastor Nate. In part, Pastor Nate was selected because of his Spanish language skills. Yakima’s economy is predominantly agricultural and approximately 60 percent of the population is Spanish-speaking. About 26 students in grades K-8 attend the school at the church. Pastor Nate studied Spanish in college and had the opportunity to practice his skills while he was in seminary and working in a highly-populated Hispanic region of Milwaukee.
When he arrived at Peace Lutheran, he said “It was a new building for a new pastor, fresh out of seminary. They were installing the rain gutters as I pulled up.” He stated he came to preach the Gospel and learned to work with people. “It’s going to be hard to say good bye.” Some of things he will miss most about Milbank are its size and the people. (Yakima’s metropolitan population is around 250,000.) “Milbank is big enough to have a little bit of everything, but it’s still a town where people get to know you. You’re not anonymous after a short while.” He also noted the area’s spirit of volunteerism.
As he continues his journey, Pastor Nate says he has no favorite scripture to guide him, but he knows Romans 8 provides a solid foundation. Typically, he said he “favors whatever he is working on at the time.” He first felt the call to ministry when he was in the seventh grade, and it was solidified when he went on a mission trip to Ukraine where he worked with children. “I have a strong belief that all scripture has a different meaning at different stages of life, and that is why it is a lifelong learning process.”
Pastor Nate’s last day in Milbank falls just after Easter on April 11, and Peace Lutheran has begun the process of finding their new leader. Asked if he had any advice for his replacement, Pastor Nate again quoted Paul, “We’re all members of the same body. We don’t all have the same gifts, but they complement each other.”
Join Pastor Nate for his final services in the Milbank area on Sundays at Peace Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. and at St John’s in Summit at 10:30 a.m.