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A Double Goodbye Husband-Wife Pastors Leave St. Mark’s For Iowa Church

FOR THE RECORD: 7-23-97 Incorrect name: The Rev. Kay Tostengard will be pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. A story in Monday’s newspaper incorrectly identified the college.

Kay and Tim Tostengard said farewell to a few hundred family members on Sunday.

But it wasn’t brothers and sisters the couple gave hugs and handshakes to, it was the congregation of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, which they helped lead in worship for the past six years.

Associate pastors at the church, the Tostengards are the only husband-wife team in the Lutheran synod that encompasses Eastern Washington and all of Idaho. In recent years, they have been one of only a few couples of any denomination preaching together in Spokane.

“They’ve just been part of the family,” said Carolyn Payne, one of the few hundred members of St. Mark’s congregation at a send-off picnic for the couple at Manito Park after services on Sunday. The picnic also was a celebration of the church’s 50th anniversary.

With its 1,600-member congregation, St. Mark’s is one family among many for Kay, 39, and Tim, 35. In the past six years their own brood has grown from one daughter, Annika, to another daughter, Renee, and son Eli.

They are leaving Spokane’s largest Lutheran church for Decorah, Iowa, - where Lutherans are as thick as seeds in a sunflower. Decorah will put them a few hours from their parents, brothers and sisters in Minnesota.

“Decorah is a town of 8,000 people, but there are two Lutheran churches, both of which are larger than St. Mark’s,” Tim said.

When interviewing to be a pastor at one of Decorah’s churches - the job he’s going to - Tim was asked if he was Norwegian.

Tim told the elderly farmer who asked that he was 100 percent Norwegian, but his children were only 75 percent.

Shaking his head the farmer said, “Well, I guess that’ll have to do.”

It’s a story Tim tells with a good-natured humor he shares with Kay, who will be a campus pastor at Lutheran College in Decorah.

Their easy-going personalities will be missed, congregation members said.

“I think the young families could relate to them well,” Payne said. “And it was nice for women to have a woman leading Bible study.”

For every table of food at the picnic, there seemed to be as many good wishes for the couple - and there was lots of food for this hungry pack of Lutherans.

But Tim and Kay had a feast of thanks to send to the congregation, as well.

“There is really a kind of fun spirit about this congregation,” Tim said.

“They totally took care of us,” Kay said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

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