Meet Pastor W.J. Mark Knutson
Reverend W.J. Mark Knutson has been pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church for more than 15 years. Through his leadership Augustana has grown from fewer than 200 members to nearly 800, becoming a multiethnic, multicultural servant congregation committed to justice and peace, healing and wholeness, and the celebration of the wonderful diversity of all God’s people.
In the January 2012 issue of Portland Monthly magazine, Mark was named one of the 50 Most Influential Portlanders. The issue noted his "vigorous activism" against war and in favor of immigration reform and gay rights. Our congregation shares his dedication to these and other social causes that put our Christian faith into action in our world.
Mark was awarded the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary's Distinguished Ministry of Parish Pastor Award in September 2009. In October of 2009 he was honored as Ecumenist of the Year by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) for his dedication to collaborative, ecumenical, and interfaith work for the greater good. Mark is a past president of EMO. He also serves on the boards of numerous community service organizations devoted to interfaith collaboration and communication, health care reform, and other progressive issues. Mark regards every person as gifted and talented, and believes we all have a vital calling to ministry in our daily lives.
A graduate of both the University of Oregon in Eugene and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, Mark resides in Portland with his wife, Tamrah. Their son, Brandon, attends the University of Southern California.
1988 to 1995:
Mark was Director for Youth Ministries for the 5.3-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its central offices in Chicago. He was Director of a 21-member national board of the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO), Multicultural Advisory Committee, and Council of Synod Presidents. The LYO was a major force in lifting up young leaders of many cultural backgrounds to promote greater diversity in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Now 100 years old, the organization represents 1 million high school students, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 years old. As Director of ELCA Youth Ministries, Mark coordinated Hunger, Justice, and Peace Education for youth in Puerto Rico and Alaska and was a liaison to major youth service agencies throughout the United States as well as to the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Mark was Associate Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Gresham, Oregon, and directed activities of the Youth Ministries Staff for the Pacific Northwest Synod (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska).
1975 to 1981:
Prior to becoming an ordained minister, Mark taught and was a department head at the Tongue Point Job Corps Center in Astoria, Oregon, where he collaborated with students and local leaders to build new relationships in the community.