Mayo Clinic chaplain begins a new calling at First Baptist
The Rev. Scott Jorgenson says most of the transitions in his life have come through “the two-by-four approach.”
He was a sophomore in college when a friend persuaded him to attend a Sunday night church service that resulted in him committing his life to Christ.
Later that year, he met his future wife, Lisa, after she called to ask for a ride to an out-of-town InterVarsity Christian Fellowship gathering.
They had been married for 11 years when their oldest daughter, Sina, was born.
He had been a software developer for Control Data, and then the Mayo Clinic, for a dozen years when he received the call to the ministry.
“It was truly a phone call, call to the ministry,” Jorgenson remembers with a laugh.
A friend who was working for a consortium of private colleges phoned to tell him that Bethel Seminary, a Baptist school in St. Paul, had started offering night classes.
Jorgenson said he wasn’t thinking about seminary, and the friend replied, “Well, you would make a great pastor.”
To his surprise, Lisa, pregnant with Sina at the time, agreed.
“It really wasn’t a commitment just to the schooling,” Jorgenson says. “It wasn’t just to learn more to be a great lay leader or Sunday school teacher. We really felt this was God’s call to full-time ministry, wherever that might be when I got done with seminary.”
That place turned out to be the Mayo Clinic still, but as a hospital chaplain.
Then a few months ago, a friend informed the Jorgensons that First Baptist Church of Hudson was looking for a pastor.
“I really had a sense when I started chaplaincy that God was having me do it backwards,” Jorgenson says.
A lot of his colleagues at Mayo Clinic began in parish work and moved to the chaplaincy.
“My desire was for more preaching and teaching, in a professional role. That was part of my own passion, my own training,” he says.
“I think the Holy Spirit kind of said you’re heading to Hudson. And we just embraced it with all our hearts. Everything fell in place. The opportunity is wonderful.”
The Jorgensons and their younger daughter Sara moved into the 128-year-old parsonage on Vine Street next to the 148-year-old First Baptist sanctuary on July 7. Last Sunday, he gave his first sermon as the official pastor. It was titled “Organized Confusion” – also the name of a co-ed volleyball team that he and Lisa played on back in their hometown of Rochester, Minn.
Jorgenson told the congregation they were already feeling at home in Hudson.
They’ve been getting to know neighbors while walking their mixed-breed shelter dog, Trixie. They enjoyed last Thursday evening’s concert by the St. Croix Valley Community Band and Metro Brass in Lakefront Park.
And the pastor and Sara, who will be a senior at Hudson High School, have discovered Willow River State Park to be a beautiful place to run. They’re in training for a marathon later this year.
Jorgenson is familiar with the Hudson area from his youth. His grandparents Grover and Agnes Dodds lived on the St. Croix River, 10 miles south of Hudson. Grover owned and operated the St. Paul Barber School.
“It holds just wonderful, wonderful childhood memories,” he says of his grandparents’ small horse ranch, called the D Ranch.
An ecumenical background
Jorgenson and his wife both grew up in Lutheran churches in Rochester – he at Gloria Dei and she at Bethel.
While completing their undergraduate degrees at Bemidji State University, they became involved with a Baptist church that was active in campus ministry.
Then when Jorgenson took his first post-college job as a programmer/analyst for Control Data in Arden Hills, Minn., they attended Ham Lake Baptist Church. They were leaders of the church’s junior high ministry and sang in the choir.
Both of the Jorgensons are singers and are looking forward to singing with the First Baptist choir. He’s a tenor and she’s an alto. They’ve sung with the praise teams and choirs of the churches they’ve attended.
They returned to Rochester in 1986 to be near Lisa’s ailing mother. Jorgenson went to work for Mayo Clinic, and they eventually found a church home at Rochester Covenant, where they have been members for the past 27 years.
“We loved the rich music programming and the commitment to the word of God,” he says of the church.
Jorgenson would preach from time-to-time when the pastor was vacationing. He also served as worship and music team leader, a small group leader and a Sunday school teacher over the years.
At Mayo Clinic, one of his first assignments was to computerize the cardiac intensive care units. His bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State is in mathematics and computer science.
“I truly love the pastoral care ministry,” Jorgenson says of his years as a hospital chaplain. But he is looking forward to forming long-term relationships with the people in his pastoral care. In the hospital setting, they come and go.
He’s also looking forward to using his seminary training in teaching and preaching and church administration.
“I’m excited about the church in that it has all these great resources,” he says of First Baptist. “We have a building. We have a dedicated community of (members) –- and we have a community that needs to hear of God’s love and his care for us in everyday practical matters. So that’s what excites me.”
“I have the sense that the congregation really desires to serve the Lord -- and to be a part of that is just a privilege,” he adds.
First Baptist is part of the American Baptist Churches USA denomination. Formed in 1852, it is the second-oldest church in Hudson, behind the Methodist church, established in about 1847.
The First Baptist sanctuary was constructed in 1866 and is one of the oldest houses of worship in Wisconsin.
The congregation has a blended style of worship, with contemporary songs led by Music Director Cheryl Forester and the praise team, as well as elements of a traditional church service.
The Sunday morning worship service is at 10:15 a.m. and all are welcome to attend.