Our Pastors

Pastor James Backus - Education, Youth, and Family - Email

Pastor James Backus was born on April 14, 1976, and is the son of Rev. Andrew and Dee (nee Rusch) Backus. His father, a son of our congregation, is now retired from the ministry. His mother’s joy and praise exceeds even ours today as she worships Christ in heavenly glory.

Pastor spent his childhood years in Johnson, MN. In 1995 he graduated from Martin Luther High School of Prairie du Chien, WI, a former WELS prep school whose staff and tradition were combined with Northwestern Prep to form our synod’s current Luther Preparatory School.

Pastor Backus and Jessica met during their college years and on August 6, 2000, were married at Jessica’s home church, St. Matthew’s, Oconomowoc. Jessica is the daughter of Ralph and Tracy Schmidt and a 1998 graduate of Luther Prep. In May of 2002, Pastor and Jessica graduated together from our Martin Luther College, in New Ulm, MN.

Pastor and Jessica have been blessed with eight children: Abel, Annemarie, Elizabeth, Mary, Micaiah, Judah, Justus, and Levi.

During his seminary training Pastor Backus spent his vicar year in Brookings, SD, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. He is a 2006 graduate of our Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon. Upon seminary graduation, he was assigned to St. John’s Lutheran Church, Florence, WI. The Backus family was in Florence until October of 2010 when Pastor accepted a Call to serve as associate pastor at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Adrian, MI.

In April of 2015, Pastor Backus accepted Christ’s Call to serve our congregation. In additional to his general pastoral duties of preaching, teaching and visitation, he will serve as the education pastor in our school and as pastoral advisor to our youth ministry programs.

When asked about hobbies or interest, Pastor Backus immediately begins to talk about Jessica and the kids. He says he enjoys reading the Bible with his family, playing with the kids, camping, being active outdoors, playing a few musical instruments, and meeting new people.


Pastor Michael Jensen - Coordination - Email

Pastor Jensen was called to St. Mark’s in the fall of 1998 and currently serves as the congregation's coordinating pastor. He also currently serves as the District President of the Western Wisconsin District of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Pastor and his wife Jane (Willitz) were married in 1988 and have been blessed with seven children, two daughters-in-law, two grandsons, and a granddaughter. Pastor Jensen is a 1988 graduate of Northwestern College of Watertown and a 1992 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon. Prior to coming to St. Mark’s, he served congregations in Green Bay, WI and East Brunswick, NJ.


Pastor Karl Walther - Outreach: English and Spanish - Email

Pastor Walther is a native of Sturgeon Bay. He was baptized, confirmed, & also married at Saint Peter's Lutheran.

He was married to Sandy (nee Bartel) in 1986. She is a graduate of Doctor Martin Luther College, and she currently provides child care in their home. They have been blessed with four children: Nate (1988, married to Heather), Amanda (1990), Christopher (1998), and Alyssa (2001).

Pastor Walther is a graduate of Northwestern College in Watertown (1985) and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon (1989). He served as vicar at Saint Matthew's Lutheran in Benton Harbor MI and as pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran in Topeka KS.

He has been pastor at Saint Mark's since 1995, with current emphases in elders and outreach work. He also leads the congregation's Spanish language outreach.


Pastor Peter Wells - District President Assistant - Email

Pastor Wells graduated from Osceola High School in 2006. Desiring to study for the pastoral ministry, he then enrolled at our Martin Luther College of New Ulm, MN. There he met Caitlin Ulrich of Lakeville, MN, and they were married on June 21, 2008, at Trinity in Osceola. A man of many gifts and interests, Pastor contemplated entering law enforcement after graduating from MLC, but was again drawn back to our seminary to prepare for the pastoral ministry. His year of pastoral internship took him to Redeemer Lutheran in Edna, Texas, where his desire for pastoral service increased as he gained experience in preaching and teaching in both English and Spanish and in all the other areas of pastoral ministry. This spring he graduated from our Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI.

St. Mark's Ev. Lutheran Church + 615 Jones St. + Watertown, WI 53094

Phone 920-262-8500 + Fax (920) 262-8508