Pastor Mark Jeske is a Milwaukee native, actually born and baptized into St. Marcus back in 1952. His father, Rev. John Jeske, was the assistant pastor here from 1949-1953. The family moved to Milwaukee’s South Side in 1953 and young Mark attended St. John’s Lutheran School on S. 68th St. and Wisconsin Lutheran High School, graduating in 1970. His pre-theological
undergraduate study was at Northwestern College, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1974.
Mark enrolled at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon that year. His intern year sent him to Latin America. After five months of intensive language study in Spanish in Guadalajara, he traveled to Medellín, Colombia, to plant a church in a poor barrio high in the Andes. Mark graduated from the Seminary in 1978 and was assigned to serve as temporary faculty at Northwestern Preparatory School in Watertown, Wisconsin. There he taught English, Old Testament, ancient and medieval history, and geography.
Two years later Mark was reassigned to St. Marcus Lutheran Church, where he has served ever since. The church and school are located in a neighborhood that, at that time, was failing. Abandoned houses, graffiti, broken glass, and very low rates of home ownership caused many who could get out to flee. But Pastor Jeske’s vision was to reinvigorate St. Marcus to be a Gospel-centered worship and education ministry that would bring people together: young and old, well-to-do and poor, black and white, well-educated and little-educated.
Slowly the church and school both began to grow. More and more people, from a very diverse background, came to share the vision and help build a new ministry. A major building project in 2002-2003 replaced the old and tired school building with the beautiful parish center you see today. Today both congregation and school are thriving, and even the old Brewers Hill neighborhood is flourishing, too, as people come back to the central city to live, work, and invest.
Pastor Jeske was married to Carol Wynkoop in 1986. Carol is presently the K4 teacher at St. Marcus School. They are blessed with four children: John, Sam, Liz, and Michael.