Concordia pastor finds diversity is a challenge

Concordia pastor finds diversity is a challenge Rev. Dr. Mike Boykin by M. Jill Sundstrom Rev. Dr. Mike Boykin was born in Tuscaloosa, AL, but grew up all over the United States as the son of an Air Force serviceman.

After serving churches in Indiana, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, he is now pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Vermillion. At the same time, he is completing his second doctoral degree.

As diverse as his life has been, so is that of his congregation.

�Most Lutheran churches within the Missouri Synod came from a long line of German families,� Boykin said. �For many, this became their home church and generation after generation attended. Today, membership is not as ethnic, there is more diversity and that is a challenge. The university also presents an interesting challenge because we are a campus church.�

But Boykin believes in reaching out to everyone, from students to long-time members.

�We are all God�s children,� he said.�

Boykin came to Vermillion July 1 to fill in as a vacancy pastor following Rev. John Berg�s departure.

He had been a pastor in Hinton, IA, prior to moving to Vermillion.

�We had moved here so my wife could work at Gateway and I could work on my final dissertation,� Boykin said. �I was taking a leave of absence when Rev. Berg asked me to fill in as vacancy pastor.�

Not long after, he decided to take the call for the Vermillion church.

Boykin hopes he can reach all members of his church, which includes both long-time members and students.

�I hope to become more involved with the students,� he said. �We have two campus ministry associates working for us now and we want to provide church fellowship to the Missouri Lutheran students attending USD.�

Boykin hopes his congregation will see him as one who genuinely cares for them, he said.

�To use John�s words, Christ came to give us life and give it abundantly,� Boykin said. �That exemplifies what I�m doing in the church, which is about life ? life in its fullness.�

As he ministers to the people of Concordia Lutheran Church, Boykin has set a goal for himself.

�I want to be faithful to God�s word and continue to grow in faith and understanding,� he said. �But I�m not perfect. I do live by grace.�

Boykin earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama. He served in the U.S. Navy as a pilot before attending Concordia Theological Seminary at Ft. Wayne, IN, where he earned his master of divinity degree.

He was also a chaplain in the Navy reserves for 20 years and his educational pursuits continued with a master�s degree in sacred theology from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and a doctor of ministry degree from the seminary at Ft. Wayne. He has now completed his dissertation for another Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England.

Boykin�s early career goals leaned toward education.

�I never set out to be a pastor,� he said. �I had another career in mind. �But I was influenced by my pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Birmingham, AL, and I know I made the right choice.�

Boykin and his wife Deborah have two children, David, 25, who lives in Alabama, and Sarah, 16, a junior at Vermillion High School.

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