Greetings, my name is Mark Kernan, my wife and I are natives of the NW, she grew up in Poulsbo and I grew up in Port Orchard. Many of my friends in High School attended church at Harper. I am a seasoned pastor of 18 years and currently serve as an International Trainer with Training Leaders International, where I train pastors in remote regions of South Asia. In addition to this, I will be completing my Masters of Divinity this May at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After four years of rigorous study and fruitful part-time ministry in South Asia I am eager to transition back into full-time ministry within the local church. Yes, I currently have one of the “coolest” jobs in the world at TLI. But, as much as I have enjoyed serving the global church with TLI—and hope to serve it periodically throughout my ministry life—God has consistently used the last few years of seminary and global ministry to reinforced my primary calling to and passion for pastoral ministry within the local church.
I believe that my previous experience and gifting might serve the needs of Olympic Evangelical Free Church. First, I am a strategic team leader. “Strategic” in the sense that I am interested in new opportunities of ministry and want to make sure that current ministries are accomplishing stated goals, sometimes this means retiring, retooling and/or replacing existing ministries or instituting completely new ministries. “Team leader” in the sense that I endeavor to cultivate an environment where elders and staff own the vision and are driving toward the same goals with clear responsibilities and running from the same playbook. Second, I am an expository preacher that is committed to the inerrancy of God’s Word and I love equipping others so that than can exposit God’s Word rightly whether it be in their personal devotions, small group, or as they pursue their calling into preaching and pastoral ministry. Third, I am committed to a ministry that embraces and celebrates the multi-ethnic and multi-generational makeup of the local community.
Let me take a moment and explain how 18 years of ministry and seminary intersect.
When I moved my family from Stayton Oregon to Kodiak Alaska in 1995 to serve as the youth pastor of Berean Baptist Church, I had no idea I would spend the next 18 years of my life in Alaska. After nine years as a youth pastor my senior pastor transitioned to another church in the lower 48 and I was voted into his role. Even though Kodiak is an Island I served a very diverse congregation: bush pilots, hunting guides, school teachers, Coast Guard pilots, Navy Seals, marine biologists, and commercial fishermen. This diversity enabled us to reach an even broader range of people in our community. Over my tenure, by God’s abundant grace, we grew from 120 to over 250 and added the church’s first fully-funded full-time youth pastor. In addition to this, we increased missions giving, launched the church’s first adult overseas mission trip, instituted adult discipleship courses, implemented a savings policy to plan for future expansion, and addressed over 25 years of deferred maintenance and laid the ground work for an expansion project that was completed in 2016.
In 2011, as my daughters were getting close to finishing high school, I felt God calling me back to seminary two different ways. First, as the church grew and the educational level of our congregation increased, I felt the need for greater equipping. Second, I had two opportunities to train pastors overseas and wanted to be even more involved; but I was told I needed a master’s degree to teach at the level I desired. So, after months of conversations and prayer with my wife and a few close friends I walked the church through a 17-month transition period so that they would have a lead pastor in place when I left. After that, I sold my house, loaded our earthly belongings into a 24-foot trailer, and drove it onto the ferry to begin the 4,600-mile drive to Minneapolis from Homer, Alaska. And now that this stage is complete we are eager to see where God will lead us next.