Aug 9, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterThe new pastor for the United Methodist Church in Riverton is still unpacking his belongings as he and his wife settle into their new home and jobs.
Mark Rader and his wife, Susan, recently moved from Spring Valley, Minn., where Mark was a lead pastor at Maple Leaf Parish. He now is working to continue his 29 years of pastor work in one of Riverton's oldest churches.
When Riverton was only a few months old, a resident pastor in Lander began frequent missionary trips to Riverton and eventually developed enough interest to assemble a consistent group of members. It wasn't until 1915 that a foundation emerged to construct a new brick building.
The first Sunday school sessions started in 1916. In 1935, the church celebrated its 28th anniversary. The Epworth League and the Ladies Aid Society are both derivative organizations of the church. The current building located at 1116 W. Park Ave. was built in the 1950s, Mark said.
Mark was born in Ohio and attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio and the Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Most of his pastoral duties, however, were conducted in Minnesota. Mark also lived in Illinois for three years.
He involved himself in four churches while in Minnesota and led youth and adult camps, retreats and special services, like the cowboy church service.
Mark said he met his wife while in college. She is a physical therapist who works at Lander Regional Hospital.
The couple have two sons, Kyle, a physician's assistant, and Joel, a teacher. In Minnesota, Mark had a leather work business that created items like leather saddles, belts and cinches. Mark was also a mechanic and said he enjoys scuba diving and learning to play new instruments.
Mark said United Methodist has recently kicked off a contemporary type of service in an attempt to attract younger people. He added that a mixture of both can help build the church and its mission because views on it have changed over years.
"The church needs to re-embrace a missionary mindset," he said. "The culture used to support the church."
As for becoming more acquainted with his new community, Mark said he plans on interacting with more people and meeting pastors from other churches.
"You try to get a feel for the people out there in the community, you listen to stories," he said.
He said he would like to focus on reaching out to the community and let them know the church exists, and he invites new and old members to attend. He said he also would like to see younger people be a part of the church's clergy.
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