The forty year pastoring ministry of the Reverend Dr. Ronald W. Saari will be recognized on Sunday, February 24th at Central Baptist Church, 420 Roy Street North. Pastor Saari is retiring from 23 years as Central’s Senior Pastor. Other pastorates include ten years in Hampton, Iowa as a church planter and a seven year ministry in Chicago, Illinois.
Pastor Saari and his wife Priscilla are natives of Superior, Wisconsin and both are graduates of the University of Wisconsin, Superior. Pastor Saari also earned his graduate degrees from Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul.
In the summer of 1990 the Saari family, which included their young children, Matthew and Katey, moved from Chicago to St. Paul when Ronald became Central’s pastor. The family quickly acclimated to the Macalester-Groveland area where they purchased a home. Priscilla resumed her teaching career by becoming a substitute in the St. Paul school system.
In 1991 Priscilla accepted a job as a music teacher at Groveland Elementary School and taught there until 2004 when she transferred to Hancock Elementary School as a fifth grade teacher. She will retire this June.
During Pastor Saari’s ministry he led the church into a deeper understanding and commitment to urban ministry. “God’s Love Alive in the Midway” became the church’s slogan. Making the slogan a reality resulted in a host of church and community ministries. The church’s children and youth outreach were expanded. Co-operative ministries and projects with Central’s across the street neighbor, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, were embraced.
In 1995 the church’s 45-year-old preschool program was expanded to a full fledged child care service which is available from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In the mid nineties an emergency food shelf was established, designed for individuals and families who “fall in the cracks” and are not immediately able to access other community food shelves.