MASON CITY, Iowa — When David and Elayne Werges were married 36 years ago, neither of them knew they would go into ministry someday.
“I married a farmer,” Elayne said with a laugh.
Today, David is pastor and Elayne is diaconal minister at Cross Roads Lutheran Parish, which consists of four Lutheran congregations in North Iowa: St. Luke Lutheran Church, Nora Springs; Rock Creek Lutheran Church, rural Osage; St. John’s Lutheran Church, rural Osage; and Faith Lutheran Church, Mitchell.
“It has really been a blessing to be able to work together,” David told the Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/1kefS8O).
They make a good team because they know each others’ quirks, Elayne said.
Although she and her husband share the same core values, they are both different people with different gifts to bring to the table, she added.
They aren’t the only married couple in North Iowa with both spouses in the ministry.
Sid and Jeni Bohls, who met at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the 1990s, are now pastors at two different Lutheran churches in Mason City.
Sid, who grew up just outside Austin, Texas, is pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church while Jeni, who grew up in Mason City, is pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.
Their first pastoral call was to Brenham, Texas, where each served at a different Lutheran church.
In 2006, they moved to Jeni’s hometown.
“We have been fortunate to find congregations close together,” Jeni said.
Although they aren’t at the same church, “the shop talk at home is fun,” Sid said.
He said they are able to give each other helpful advice and discuss interpretation of Biblical texts when they are writing sermons.
The couple has two children, Grant, 10, and Alex, 8.
Sid and his father-in-law, Bob Grant, are both in Boulder Road, a local band who plays rock and country music.
Jeni used to come to one service at month at St. Paul, but her responsibilities at St. James prevent that from happening.
“I miss worshipping as a family,” Jeni said.
However, she said it’s fun to travel together to church conventions and mission trips.
They also teach confirmation classes together and sometimes their two churches have joint worship services.
Dave and Kris Toyne, who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last month, are pastors at Agape Christian Family Church in Clear Lake.
Dave, who is originally from Jefferson, is going on 31 years in the ministry. He became pastor at Agape 29 years ago.
Kris, who grew up in Boone, received her minister’s license 15 years ago.
“We had been working together even since Dave started pastoring,” she said.
Kris said she was involved in the music program, as well as teaching and administration, and as the couple’s two children were growing up, she became even more involved.
Getting her credentials and becoming a pastor “seemed like a natural transition,” Kris said.
Dave said the best part of being a married couple pastoring at the same church is “we are there for each other.”
Kris said it’s nice to know you can go home at the end of a hard day and have your spouse understand what you are going through.
She also said they work well together because “we both have our strengths and our weaknesses.”
The Toynes travel all around the United States and to other countries to speak at seminars. They have been to Korea, Ukraine, Russia and Mexico.
Dave said what they focus on during these seminars is healing wounds that prevent people from experiencing God’s love.
The Wergeses met as teenagers on a bus headed to a church youth gathering in New Orleans.
Both grew up on farms. Elaine lived in Decorah, where David lived near Garnavillo.
They went into farming themselves after they got married, but during the 1980s, “it became obvious that wasn’t going to work,” Elyane said.
They both went back to school as non-traditional students at Waldorf College, later transferring to Wartburg College.
David became an accountant while Elayne went into social work.
David was the first to realize he was being called to the ministry and was ordained in 1999.
Cross Roads Lutheran Parish is his fifth call as a pastor.
Elayne became a diaconal minister in 2011. Diaconal ministers, who are required to have a master’s degree from a seminary, are consecrated rather than ordained.
Diaconal ministers can officiate at baptisms and funerals, but their main mission is service in ministries at the intersection of the church and the world.
“My passion is youth and family ministry,” Elayne said.
The Wegeses, who have three grown children and two grandchildren, began serving Cross Roads Lutheran Parish a year ago.
David said people in the parish have told them they work together “like a well-oiled machine.”
He said one disadvantage of having both spouses in the ministry is “we are always on.”
“Our office goes home with us,” he said.
Elayne said it’s not healthy to have all their conversations be about church, so they try to set aside time to do other things together.
But overall “work doesn’t feel like work,” David said. “It’s fun most of the time.”