Our Pastor

 Meet Zion's Pastor - The Rev. Father Mark P. Braden

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The Reverend Mark Patrick Braden is the sixth Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Detroit, Michigan. Father Braden received the Divine Call to serve our Lord Jesus Christ as Pastor of Zion on October 26, 2008 A.+ D., and was installed on Sunday, January 4, 2009 A.+D.

An adjunct member of the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Fr. Braden holds both the M.Div and S.T.M. degrees from CTS. Fr. Braden serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System; and as a Departmental Editor for Gottesdienst magazine.  He teaches Biblical Greek online for CTS.  He taught internationally for many years as an International Fellow for the Luther Academy; and is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Lutheran Center Association of Detroit. He has also taught at Concordia University, Ann Arbor.

Since receiving the Call to serve as Pastor of Zion Detroit, Fr. Braden has returned the annual St. Michael Liturgical Conference to Zion. He has regularly taught theology in South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina), as well as in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic), and Mexico (Mexico City).  He has traveled to southern Spain in support of the LC-MS mission there. He also recently wrote and taped a Christology course for the Fort Wayne seminary for use in distance education of Spanish speaking Pastors, as well as taping Biblical Greek lectures in Spanish for use by the seminary in distance education. Fr. Braden also taught Spanish at Emmanuel Lutheran School in Dearborn, Michigan; and at Eau Claire Lutheran School in Wisconsin.

Fr. Braden has led Zion to return to the practice of educating Vicars, with the first regular Vicar in over 40 years, the Rev. Seminarist Ryan Beffrey from CTS, serving Zion during the 2010-11 academic year. The Rev. Seminarist Peter J. Eckardt, from CTS, served as Zion's Vicar during the 2012-13 academic year. The Rev. Seminarist Winston Grieser served as Zion's Vicar during the 2014-15 academic year.  A Vicar from Bolivia was selected, but was unable to serve in 2017.  A Vicar from southern Spain has been selected to serve in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Fr. Braden has been active in the acquisition and demolition of abandoned homes and properties around the church campus, regularly hosting the Michigan/Livernois Council and other civic and community events.

Fr. Braden began his theological education at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana in June, 1999 A.+ D. He majored in exegetical theology, with a minor in pastoral theology. During his studies, he was the recipient of the American Bible Society Excellence in Academics and Ministry award. Fr. Braden served as Vicar of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he worked in Hispanic outreach.

While at CTS, Fr. Braden served as Greek tutor for four years, and led Greek readings for three years. His Masters thesis evaluated the exegetical influence of Martin Luther on the 1629 Reina-Valera Bible. He was awarded the Master of Divinity degree by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, on May 23, 2003 A.+ D. Fr. Braden was the recipient of the E.J. Otto award, and the C.T.S. Student Association Recognition Award.

After completing his MDiv, Fr. Braden was awarded the position of graduate assistant to the Department of Exegetical Theology, and was offered the opportunity to teach Old Testament Bible at the seminary. He served as graduate assistant the following academic year, and also authored several short articles and book reviews that were published in Logia. He continued to work in Hispanic outreach at Redeemer Fort Wayne.

Fr. Braden received the Divine Call to serve the Lord of the Church as Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cleghorn, Wisconsin, in May, 2004 A.+D. He was ordained at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on May 27, 2004 A.+D., and installed at Zion Cleghorn on July 5, 2004 A.+D. While in Wisconsin, he also served regularly as Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Modena, Wisconsin.

During his time at Zion Cleghorn, Fr. Braden led three international mission trips to Venezuela. Taking with him teams of members of Zion and of churches from the greater Twin Cities region, Fr. Braden taught exegetical courses for Venezuelan Pastors, vicars, seminarists and deaconesses at the Instituto Teologico Juan de Frias, the "seminary" for the Lutheran Church in Venezuela. In 2005 Fr. Braden taught exegesis and the Book of Revelation. In 2006 he taught Biblical Greek, and in 2007 he taught elementary Hebrew and the Book of Genesis. While Fr. Braden taught, the congregational members from Wisconsin and Minnesota engaged in various service projects, including teaching English as a second language in Maracay, constructing a church building in Valencia, and renovating Quinta Lutero, the seminary building in Caracas.

Also during his time at Zion Cleghorn Fr. Braden presented two theological papers at the Fort Wayne seminary Theological Symposia. In 2005 he presented an exegetical sectional paper on the use of the word hilastarion in Romans 3:25, and in 2006 he presented a paper on halakah and haggadah in Peter's sermon in Acts 2. In 2007 and 2008 he led a group of Pastors of the North Wisconsin District in a study of C.F.W. Walther's The Form of a Christian Congregation. While Fr. Braden was at Zion Cleghorn, many new programs and initiatives were begun. The congregation paid off the church mortgage two years early, and replaced the roof on the church. Fr. Braden also taught 7th and 8th grade Spanish at Eau Claire Lutheran School, and served on the North Wisconsin District scholarship committee.

Fr. Braden was awarded the Masters Degree of Sacred Theology by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in May, 2011. His major was Exegetical Theology, his minor Historical Theology.

Fr. Braden is married to Patty, his wife of 41 years. The Bradens have a daughter, Sarah, who is 24 years old, and lives in Pittsburgh with her husband. The Bradens live in Dearborn Hills in west Dearborn, Michigan.

Prior to his ordination, Fr. Braden was a member of Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Whitmore Lake, Michigan; St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Michigan. He worked for 18 years as a manager, administrator and director in state Universities in the metropolitan Detroit area. He taught at local colleges, and did private consulting work in the human resources and business operations fields. Fr. Braden received the Outstanding Alumnus award from Concordia College Ann Arbor in December, 1995. Prior to entering the seminary, Fr. Braden earned the Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Science degrees.