Carthage welcomes interim pastor Tom Gaulke
Joining the Carthage staff as interim campus pastor for the 2023-24 academic year, the Rev. Tom Gaulke brings a well-rounded skill set that he’s developed as a spiritual, humanitarian, and educational leader.
Called to lead the Center for Faith and Spirituality, he began his duties with the College on Sept. 7. Based in the A. F. Siebert Chapel building, the center’s staff coordinates pastoral care, worship services and service opportunities in the Christian tradition, and a variety of interfaith programs on campus.
The Carthage community is still recovering from the loss of the Rev. Kara Baylor, who served as campus pastor for nine years. Beloved for her warm and nonjudgmental personality, she passed away May 25 after a long battle with breast cancer.
All are invited to a celebration of Pastor Baylor’s life during Homecoming weekend at 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, in the chapel.
“Known for her devotion to justice, inclusion, interfaith community, and so many other precious expressions of God’s ever-deepening love, Pastor Kara’s presence is felt deeply here,” says Pastor Gaulke. “We’ll continue to nurture that fire, that Spirit, that lived and moved in her and continues to live in and among us here at Carthage.”
Over the past 14 years, Pastor Gaulke has thrived in a wide range of capacities in parish ministry, faith-based community organizing, and other nonprofit work across the Chicago area. In each role, he’s prioritized a more equitable and inclusive culture.
Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pastor Gaulke accepted the Carthage position after three years at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Cicero, Illinois. He recently relocated to the Milwaukee area with his wife, Daisy, and daughter Hanna.
Pastor Gaulke holds a Ph.D. in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). For more than a decade, he served as a mentor and field education supervisor to students at LSTC, where he also joined the faculty part-time in 2018.
He led the Lutheran/Episcopal South Loop Campus Ministry from 2012 to 2014, notably bringing university students together with residents experiencing homelessness to prepare, share, and deliver meals. The college setting energizes him.
“Education provides a beautiful space for students to explore. That’s central to the Lutheran faith and many others,” says Pastor Gaulke, who encourages students to share their beliefs and questions.
“Both education and faith are a journey,” he continues. “Rather than stay where we are, we show up to be moved, to learn, and to become. In my experience, that process of becoming happens best when we’re in it together.”
Provost David Timmerman noted that the search process brought together leaders from both on and off campus, including the Rev. Paul Erickson, bishop of the ELCA Milwaukee Synod and a member of the Carthage Board of Trustees.
Other members of the search committee included:
- Nick Winkler, Dean of Students
- Liz Snider, Associate Dean of Students
- Holly Hess, Purposeful Life and Leadership Coordinator
- Debbie Clark, Assistant in the Center for Faith and Spirituality
- Julius Crump, Assistant Professor of Religion
- Stephanie Mitchell, Valor Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
As the newcomer settles in, he welcomes students’ ideas for new ways to branch out in the Center for Faith and Spirituality. They can contact “Pastor Tom” — or just Tom, as he invites the campus community to call him — to set up a meeting by sending an email to: email@example.com