AlUMNI PROFILE / Master of Divinity

Roger Sparks

Roger wanted to attend a seminary that would offer significant training in preaching and pastoral care and was willing to be a “guinea pig” in the Mid-America experiment. He was far from disappointed.

About Roger

Roger’s story goes back to 1985 – the year he graduated from Mid-America. After graduation, he attended Calvin Theological Seminary for one year pursuing ministry in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He was ordained in the fall of 1986 and since then, has served three CRCNA congregations. He has served in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Rock Valley, Iowa, and (currently) Luverne, MN. He has enjoyed the various “hats” he has been able to wear throughout his career – Stated Clerk, Synodical Deputy, member of the Classical Interim and Student Aid Committees to name a few. Presently, he represents Classis Minnkota on the Council of Delegates. A highlight for Roger is attending the CRCNA annual Synod – to which he has been a delegate ten times. He also enjoys interacting with other pastors in his local ministerial group and is privileged to serve on the Board of the Rock County Food Shelf

As Roger reflects on his decision to attend Mid-America, then a brand new and controversial seminary, he credits Rev. Tom VandenHeuvel – a founding pastor of Mid-America and, at the time, Roger’s pastor at First CRC of Orange City, IA – for encouraging Roger to consider being trained at Mid-America. Roger was introduced to Reformed theology at Dordt College (now University) and deeply appreciated the emphasis on loyalty to the Scriptures, and a view of the Reformed Confessions that MidAmerica held, and still holds – that they are living (not just historical) standards for faith. He wanted to attend a seminary that would offer significant training in preaching and pastoral care and was willing to be a “guinea pig” in the Mid-America experiment. He was far from disappointed.

He is thankful for his time at MidAmerica because it gave him the tools he has needed to continue to study the Scriptures and to effectively communicate the good news of God’s sovereign, saving grace. Throughout his long ministerial career, Roger has encountered and interacted with many diverse ideas and situations. Roger was not able to take a class in “Pastoring During a Pandemic,” but he did learn to search and to lean on the Scriptures in the ups and downs of ministry – a theological framework that was developed and nurtured during his time at Mid-America.

Roger, along with his ministerial colleagues, is serving the church during some tumultuous times. Roger acknowledges that as the culture continues to drift away from God’s revealed will, the church needs to dare to be different. Roger exhorts his congregation to be transformed by adopting the mind of Christ, as Romans 12, the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3, and many other portions of Scripture suggest. “God is showing us ways to grow in faith, hope, and love,” remarks Roger. “We who follow Jesus must stop acting like consumers of religious goods and services and remember that we are disciples. There is a cross for us to bear, and COVID is exposing weaknesses in our churches.” Sadly, Roger has had to conduct more funerals than usual this past year. Each one has reminded him that we need to know and follow Jesus, who alone is the Resurrection and the Life.

We asked Roger what advice he would give to someone considering seminary and pastoral ministry. He comments that “pastoral ministry is both wonderful and difficult. You will be loved by some and shunned by others. You will experience much joy, and probably a few sleepless nights. You will understand why the Apostle John said, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth’ (3 John vs. 4). Prayerfully sow the Gospel seed and trust God for the harvest.” He adds, “You will need to trust that the Word of God is reliable and useful, so when you are seminary shopping, make sure you enroll in one that is unapologetically committed to the Scriptures."

We are thankful that the Lord continues to bless Roger in his ministry. He is thankful for God’s new mercies every morning. Please be in prayer for Roger - that he will endure, boldly and effectively proclaim the good news of salvation week in and week out, and that he may better model what it means to follow Jesus, all for the glory of God!