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Leading the Way: Confidence from years as athlete carries over to ministry

When you look at Mark Krieger, senior pastor at Modesto Covenant Church, you might guess the 6-foot-3, 40-year-old man once was a demon on the basketball court.

Wrong sport. Krieger played Division 2 football at the University of California at Davis for three years in the late 1980s. He was a free safety.

"Our defensive back coach was Sam Young, who's the head coach at Modesto Junior College," Krieger said. "Davis was a great place to play football. You could be a student athlete. Football wasn't your whole life."

Krieger, an All Northern California player in high school, said playing football on the championship teams at Davis helped build his confidence. "I enjoyed football," he said. "I developed a love for the game. It was a real positive program."

He's parlayed his on-field confidence to his work as a pastor. Here's more information:

Family: Grew up in San Rafael with an older brother (a pastor in Rocklin). He's been married for nearly 15 years to Lori, 40. They have three children: Elisa, 11; Matt, 9; and Katie, 6.

Education: Bachelor's degree in biology from UC Davis. Felt called to the ministry while in college and received his master's of divinity from Denver Seminary. Also did coursework at North Park Seminary in Chicago to be ordained in the Covenant Church.

Career: Youth intern at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley after graduating from UC Davis. "That kind of confirmed my call to ministry." Youth ministry work at churches in Dublin and Sacramento. Associate pastor for four years in Mankato, Minn. Senior pastor at Modesto Covenant Church since August 2001.

Future: "I really feel called to ministry in a local church. I have a heart for seeing people grow in their faith, coming to know the Lord, seeing the church make a difference in the community. I enjoy the frontline of ministry too much (to take another kind of job)."

Greatest challenge: "Initially, because I hadn't been a senior pastor before, it was growing into this role. Right now, the greatest challenge is discerning where God is leading us as a church. What's the best thing for us to be doing?"

Greatest passion: "The thing that motivates me for ministry is seeing people's lives be changed by the Gospel and through Jesus Christ."

Personality: "One of my gifts is leadership, and I like to be involved with people. But the other part of me is a desire for wanting things done well, making sure the details are taken care of. I can't work unless I clean up my desk a little bit."

Spare time: "I enjoy time working in the yard or around the house so that I can think and pray about ministry, people and family. Some of my best illustrations come as I am mowing the lawn, blowing leaves or trimming bushes. The other thing we do as a family is go on day trips. We go to the coast. Go to the mountains. On Martin Luther King Day, we got the sleds out and took the kids to the snow."

"Leading the Way" runs twice a month, profiling faith leaders in our community. To suggest someone, send name and contact information to Sue Nowicki, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352-5256 or e-mail

Modesto Covenant Church

Address: 913 Floyd Ave.

Phone number: 527-4110

Members: 600 average attendance on Sunday mornings

Meeting times: 8:30, 10 and 11:15 a.m. Sunday worship (first two services feature contemporary music with band; last service is more traditional, with a choir) 9 a.m. Sunday school, children and adults 7 p.m. Wednesdays, midweek program for children