By the time John Seifert had graduated from Dr. Martin Luther High School in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1965, he had decided to become a minister in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). He therefore decided to attend Northwestern College in Watertown, WI. Northwestern’s liberal arts program with its emphasis on religion, history, and especially the biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew) provided a solid foundation for his theological studies. Upon Pastor Seifert’s graduation from Northwestern in 1969, he enrolled at the Wisconsin Synod’s pastoral training school, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary of Mequon, WI. There his course of study included not only academic courses like church history and doctrine, but practical courses like preaching and counseling. Underscoring the entire curriculum were courses devoted to careful study of God’s Word in its original languages. When Pastor Seifert graduated in 1973, he was assigned to a new WELS church in Midland, Michigan, Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church. The small congregation met in a school gym until property was purchased on the corner of Washington and Wheeler Roads in Midland. The congregation continued growing, and by 1979 a Lutheran Elementary School was started. As both the congregation and the school increased in size, a total of three additions have been added to the original church.
Before being elected President of the Michigan District of the WELS, Pastor Seifert served as a Circuit Pastor and as a member of the WELS Board of Trustees as well as being the sole pastor of Good Shepherd. In 1994 he was elected president of the Michigan District of the WELS, a position he has been re-elected to nine times. With the additional responsibilities as District President, an assistant pastor and two church secretaries were added.
Married to Barbara Duehlmeier in 1970, their life has been devoted to the church. Barb Seifert is a teacher of the middle grades at Good Shepherd as well as being organist for the worship services. They have four children who have followed their parents’ examples serving in the public ministry. Sons Michael and Joel Seifert are pastors in the WELS and daughters Ann and Sarah are teachers in Lutheran Elementary Schools.
In a time of upheaval in mainline churches, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has held unswervingly to the basic principles of a Christ-centered church. Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church in Midland continues to follow the biblical doctrine first espoused by Martin Luther who began the Reformation in Germany: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia and Sola Fide, by Scripture alone, by grace alone and by faith alone.
Pastor Jacob Behnken is the oldest of four children born to James and Susan Behnken of Brookings, South Dakota. Wishing to provide their children with a Christian education, Jacob’s parents sent him to St. Martin Lutheran School in Watertown, South Dakota. Already there, he developed an interest and received encouragement to pursue the pastoral ministry. To continue his Christian education, Jacob did not have to travel far. Just across the street from St. Martin, he also attended Great Plains Lutheran High School.
Upon his graduation from high school in 2004, Jacob enrolled at Martin Luther College of New Ulm, MN. There he completed the pastoral studies program to prepare him for his seminary-level studies. In addition to the regular courses of Greek, Hebrew, and religion, Jacob enjoyed participating in the college’s music program. He graduated in 2008.
In the same year, Pastor Behnken began his studies at the Wisconsin Synod’s pastoral training school, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary of Mequon, WI. There he received the blessing of a thorough theological training. Courses devoted to a study of Scripture itself in the original languages undergirded a curriculum with academic courses like church history and doctrine as well as practical courses like preaching and evangelism. During his time at the Seminary, Jacob also had the opportunity to serve as a vicar (intern) at Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church of Katy, TX during the summer of 2010 and for a full year at Faith Lutheran Church of Antioch, IL in 2010 through 2011. In addition, he served as seminary assistant at Grace Lutheran Church of Milwaukee, WI during his senior year.
Pastor Behnken graduated from the seminary in May of 2012 and received a call to serve as Pastoral Assistant to the Michigan District’s President, Pastor John Seifert. Pastor Behnken feels privileged to have the opportunity to work with Pastor Seifert and to serve the people of Good Shepherd and of Midland with the good news of Jesus!
In June of 2007, Pastor Behnken married his high-school sweetheart, Carrie Gosch of Aberdeen, SD. Carrie, also a graduate of Martin Luther College, has held a number of teaching positions in the Wisconsin Synod’s school system, primarily in early education. Pastor and his wife Carrie are enjoying their new home in Midland and are thrilled to be part of Good Shepherd and its ministry.