CUW’s new Campus Pastor is a CUAA alumnus who brings previous experience in campus ministry at the collegiate level.

Concordia University Wisconsin has a new Campus Pastor.

Following a global search for candidates, a CUW search committee recommended that a Divine Call be extended to the Rev. Jonathon Bakker. Bakker accepted the Call in early March and will begin his new role at CUW on April 15.

“I rejoice and thank the Lord for the gift of a new campus pastor to serve our students,” says Vice President for Mission and Church Relations Rev. Dr. Aaron Moldenhauer, who chaired the search committee. “We are grateful for Rev. Steve Smith and his years of faithful service here. We trust that, as the Lord blessed Pastor Smith’s work, he will bless Pastor Bakker’s work to the glory of His name and the good of His kingdom.”

What he brings to the role

Bakker currently serves as Senior Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Prior to this, he served as Associate Pastor from 2006 to 2015 at Christ the King Lutheran Chapel, which is based on the campus of Central Michigan University. Christ the King Lutheran Chapel is a joint campus ministry of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Michigan District and Zion Lutheran.   

Bakker has roots in Canada. He was born in Ontario and attended a high school in Guelph before venturing to the U.S. to begin higher education. In 2001, he earned his bachelor’s degree in music from CUAA (then called Concordia College). Swayed by classmates and professors at CUAA – including President Erik Ankerberg, who was serving as a professor for CUAA at the time – Bakker decided to pursue the pastoral ministry and attended seminary at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne (CTSFW). For his vicarage year, he returned to Canada and served at a four-point parish in eastern Saskatchewan.

Since graduating from seminary, he has lived in Michigan with his wife, Anne, who graduated from CUW in 2004. The two met while Anne was studying at CTSFW to become a deaconess. She, too, has experience with Campus Ministry, having served at Zion Lutheran since 2007 as a deaconess, directing the church’s international student outreach program at Christ The King.

Bakker brings a steady confidence to the role at CUW. His previous service in campus ministry prepared him well for the highs and lows of ministering to college students.

“I’ve comforted grieving students who lost loved ones, accompanied students through extremely challenging situations regarding their behavioral health, and walked alongside students who have been victims of crimes,” Bakker notes. “While my work as a campus pastor has been full of serious moments like these, I have also experienced how formative and rewarding the college years can be. By preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments, leading Bible studies, helping students build community through fellowship and service, mentoring them as they discern their future vocations, and proclaiming the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake, I hope to shepherd students to a stable family of faith for their lives at Concordia and beyond.”

Following in strong footing

Bakker follows the Rev. Steve Smith, who announced last summer he would step back from his role as Campus Pastor upon the hiring of his successor. He will continue to serve as a faculty member of the theology department until December 2024. Upon his retirement later this year, Smith will have served a celebrated 22 years as Campus Pastor at CUW.

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Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.