Pastor Mark Huggenvik retires from active ministry
VAIL — Pastor Mark Huggenvik has lots of spiritual gifts, but leisure is not among them.
Huggenvik and his wife, Barbie, tried to retire in 2007 and came to the Vail Valley for a few months to ski and be with their daughter. But it’s a conundrum when you’re good at something. People, and occasionally God, want you to keep doing it. If you weren’t any good, you wouldn’t be bothered much by God or man.
And that pretty much explains how Huggenvik unretired.
Huggenvik was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1972 and served as the senior pastor in six Lutheran congregations from Southern California to Minnesota. His last, or so he thought at the time, was the American Lutheran Church, in Sun City, Arizona, in 2007 — one of the 100 largest congregations in the country, with more than 2,000 members.
Mark and Barbie have been married for 45 years. They met at a Young Life leaders meeting. They wandered into the valley in 2008 to ski and be grandparents. Local Lutherans made him interim pastor of Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Vail until a new full time pastor could come aboard.
From there, Huggenvik joined Rev. Brooks Keith at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration as assistant rector. Huggenvik and Brooks, along with deacon Steve Baird handled the preaching and teaching, hosted a weekly men’s bible study group, Lenten soup suppers and were among the area’s most active volunteers.
Huggenvik was given the title of Vicar, and is now Vicar Emeritus of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.
The Episcopalians sent Mark and Barbie off into the sunset for their final retirement — at least they think so — with a recent outdoor worship service at the Donovan Pavilion, followed by lunch, roasts and toasts.
“We are all still basking in the afterglow of one of (Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration’s) very finest moments, the privilege of listening to a master craftsman of the Gospel and reflect upon his distinguished ministerial career,” said Father Brooks.
Huggenvik will stick around as winter resident caretaker and an affiliate pastor of the Beaver Creek Chapel, along with volunteering with Vail Mountain Rescue, Salvation Army, ushering at the Vilar Preforming Arts Center and conducting weddings and special ceremonies. Barbie is the wedding coordinator for the Episcopal Church.