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Answering the call to Detroit Lakes

Isanti native Jillene Gallatin became the new senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes in February. She and her family made the move from Scandia, Minn., to a new home near Long Lake earlier this month.

Though they have only been residents of Detroit Lakes for less than a month now, the Gallatin family has been settling in nicely at their new digs near Long Lake on the west edge of town.

"It's been amazing," said Jillene Gallatin, who was called to be the new senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in February. "Everybody has been very warm and welcoming and friendly.

"The people I spoke to (during the interview process) spoke very highly of this community, and every word they said is true -- and more.

"The people of the congregation are so excited -- there's so much energy and joy here.... The members really love this church and are always looking for ways to welcome even more people."

"Pastor Jillene," as she is known to her flock at Trinity, has more than a decade of experience as both a lead and associate pastor, at churches in Thor, Iowa and Scandia, Minn.

Jillene met her future husband, Peter Gallatin, while they were both students at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. She completed her Master of Divinity degree there in 2001, while her husband has a master's in youth and family ministry.

"He's not ordained," she explained, but added that he had worked as a youth minister for many years in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and later in Scandia.

It was only after they moved to Detroit Lakes that Peter embarked on a new type of career.

"He (Peter) works with the Awakenings program in the Alzheimer's unit at Emmanuel Community," said Jillene.

Though it was "a bit of a career change," Jillene said, she feels her husband has been adjusting well to it.

"He's so kind and compassionate," she said.

Though she has only known them for a short time, Jillene also has a great deal of praise for the staff and congregation at Trinity Lutheran.

"The staff here is very dedicated, very hard working, and it has been a privilege to come in and work beside that -- they're very committed folk," she said.

"Coming in during the season of Lent, which is such a wonderful and holy time within a congregation -- I've so enjoyed really connecting with people, seeing them regularly a couple of times a week," she said.

During the Lenten season, the church has not only its two regular worship services on Sunday, but also a midweek service on Wednesdays as well, Jillene explained.

In addition to the worship services, the church also has its regular Sunday education hour and fellowship, and a soup and sandwich supper every Wednesday during Lent as well, she said.

"What I've enjoyed most is getting to know the people in this congregation and helping them to recognize their gifts, which God has blessed them with, and how to bring God into everything they do," she said. "That's part of what I do...helping people to connect the dots."

Once people recognize the blessings that God has given them, Jillene said, "It impacts who we are and how we treat others, and if people can recognize that... that their faith is with them everywhere they go, that's huge."

A native of Isanti, Minn., Jillene said she spent her formative years in Isanti and Cambridge, where she graduated from high school before heading off to the College of St. Benedict's in St. Joseph, Minn., where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, with a minor in theology.

"At the time (of starting college), I still wasn't sure of my calling, but by the time I graduated, I knew where I was headed," she said. "It was during the spring of my junior year that I discerned I was being called to ministry."

Jillene came to that conclusion as a result of spending the fall semester of her junior year studying abroad in Galway, Ireland.

"While I was there, I really felt God calling," she explained. "That was wonderful, and powerful."

Though she had heard the call before, Jillene explained, it was during her semester in Ireland "that I took the time to intentionally listen, and let myself hear it (the call)."

Eight days after graduating from St. Benedict's, Jillene was enrolled at Luther Seminary, and it wasn't too long after starting seminary that marriage and family became part of the picture as well.

"Peter and I met in July, were engaged in August and married in March," she said, adding that they just celebrated their 15-year anniversary on March 15.

Jillene is grateful that Peter and their sons, Van, 12, and Grant, 10, have been so supportive of her decision to answer the call at Trinity.

"They were so supportive and on board with it," she said. "I so appreciate my family for that."

They are enjoying their new home as well, she said.

"We have two labs (Labrador retrievers), so that's why we wanted to have a little bit of space, for them to run around," Jillene said of their new home. "It's been great.

"We have a boat, and we're looking to forward to all the ice being off the lakes -- we enjoy boating together."

When it comes to school activities, however, her sons' interests could not be more different.

"Van is a very avid basketball player, and Grant is very into piano," she said. "He (Grant) is my little scholar. He wears a tie to school every day. They're complete opposites, (but) they're so much fun. They help me to appreciate different things in life, just because of who they are."

When they're not busy settling into their new home, jobs and school, the Gallatins are often found enjoying the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center as a family.

"It's a great asset, a really positive thing in the community," Jillene said. "We enjoy working out, and hanging out -- it's a great place to connect with people.

"We're there almost every day."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454