Pastor Mark Birkholz was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He was born again by water and the Word in Holy Baptism at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton, Township, and this gift of faith was nourished through God’s Holy Word at home and at Trinity’s grade school. He was blessed to have his mother, Karen, as his preschool teacher. At Trinity he was also confirmed in faith into which he had been baptized, and there received the life-giving body and blood of Jesus Christ.
A graduate of Lutheran High School North in Macomb, Michigan, Mark was encouraged to consider preparing for the pastoral and office, and so continued his studies in the pre-seminary program at Concordia University in River Forest. There he learned the theological languages of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and played trumpet in the Wind Symphony. He completed a Senior Honors Project with Professor Charles Froehlich on St. Jerome’s method of translation in preparing the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible.
Pastor Birkholz’s seminary training was at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, where he was blessed with many gifted teachers and mentors. He completed his fieldwork under Dr. George Gude at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Dorsey, Illinois and vicared at Grace Lutheran Church in LeMars, Iowa under Pastor Larry Fett. While at the seminary, Pastor Birkholz worked at the Concordia Historical Institute, and served as research assistant for Dr. Norman Nagel. During the summers he served as an intern at St. John Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois.
Upon graduation from the seminary, Pastor Birkholz deferred his placement into parish ministry to continue with graduate studies. He earned a Master of Theology from Australian Lutheran College in North Adelaide, South Australia under Dr. John Kleinig, focusing his work on the ritual theology of the Old Testament and the role of the priesthood. He continued with a PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. His emphasis was in New Testament theology, and he wrote his dissertation on the topic of certainty in Luke-Acts, writing under the direction of Dr. D. A. Carson.
In the spring of 2008, Pastor Birkholz was placed at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois and was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry and installed as pastor on July 20, 2008.
That summer he was also united in Holy Matrimony to Amberleigh nee Klement, and they have since been blessed with two children, Zachary and Elizabeth. Amberleigh homeschools their children and works as a Library Associate in the Youth Services Department at the Oak Lawn Public Library. Zachary is an Able Cadet in the Navy League Cadet Corps, and Elizabeth is an avid dancer, and has performed with Ballet Légere’s production of The Nutcracker.
Pastor Birkholz has served in several positions in the Northern Illinois District of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, including as East Region Pastoral Representative to the Board of Directors. He also helped to establish Faith Hope and Peace Ministries, a Recognized Service Organization which provided services to area nursing home residents. Pastor Birkholz is a contributing coeditor of two collections of essays: Feasting in a Famine of the Word (along with Dr. Jacob Corzine and Dr. Jonathan Mumme), and Church as Fullness in All Things (along with Dr. Jonathan Mumme and Dr. Richard Serina). He has appeared as a guest on Issues, Etc,Thy Strong Word, and other radio programs, and he has contributed to several publications, including Logia and The Lutheran Witness.
Pastor Birkholz enjoys nature photography, and his work has been published by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. He also loves to prepare meals for his family and friends.