My name is Zach Sommerlot. I was married October 17, 2009 to my beautiful wife Cara. Cara is a school psychologist. She grew up on a ranch in the northwest quadrant of South Dakota, outside of a little town called Firesteel. I grew in northeast Iowa outside of a little town called Dunkerton.
After feeling a call to ministry in my last year at the University of Northern Iowa, I enrolled at North American Baptist Seminary (now Sioux Falls Seminary) in Sioux Falls SD. I then started hanging out with a group of people in Dell Rapids SD in the throws of planting a church. Andy Wright was the head pastor of the church plant there called River Community Church. Eventually I became a student pastor. I lead the outreach team and headed up men’s ministry along with participating on the worship team.
Shortly after graduating from seminary Mark Donaldson, who was the worship pastor became the head pastor at Emery SD. I then became the worship pastor, took over youth group and continued doing men’s ministry. Soon after that, River community called Ryan Franchuk with the purpose of planting a church in Baltic SD (Christ Fellowship). I also led worship and co-led youth group at CF.
As time passed and I became more mature as a pastor I started pursuing head pastor positions and church planting mission work on an American Indian reservation. My wife and I were unsettled about all of these options. In December 2010, I got in contact with Walt Moser, director of church planting for the converge heartland distract. Walt and his wife Beryl had actually moved to Brandon two years previous in order to be catalysts for getting a church planted. As time progressed, Cara and I continually felt God calling us to Brandon. In May, Cara and I went to Chicago where we were assessed for church planting. Receiving a positive recommendation we began making plans to move to Brandon to assume the church planting position.
August 1st, I took over as head pastor. On August 16th Cara and I purchased our first house about 4 blocks east of Pizza Ranch in Brandon. Cara and I are so grateful to God to be here. We have seen God’s hand and provision through this process and cannot help but believe that God will do some incredible things through Zao.