Evergreen resident Mark Vickstrom exudes an aura of self-confidence and self-acceptance that actually feels palpable as you initially meet him or spend time talking together. To give the reader an accurate picture, it is important to emphasize that he definitely doesn’t come across as arrogant or self- absorbed. Rather, a good way to describe Mark is he comes across as just really solid, grounded, and able to maintain his own sense of equilibrium while simultaneously showing concern for others and a desire to reach out to those in most need.
Mark also has a way of openly describing his own foibles or personality quirks in a slightly sardonic, light hearted manner that quickly puts others at ease. These qualities of self-assurance, humility, and compassion for others who are in difficult circumstances serve him well in his role as pastor of St. Anthony’s Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. Pastor Vickstrom came by his calling to the ministry in a somewhat circuitous route, and one gets the feeling that the deliberateness and courage with which he chose the ministry is contributory to his success in his current work.
Mark was born in Colorado and grew up here. While an exchange student in Japan, he met his future wife, Anne. They later went to college and Mark played music with Up with People. Mark’s undergraduate degree was in finance and he then earned a law degree from Michigan. Mark secured a position with the very prestigious law firm Holland and Hart in Denver, and Anne and Mark moved to Evergreen.
He was working in mergers and acquisitions and became fascinated by the bond trade and the securities business. Although he enjoyed his work as a lawyer and was pretty well set in his career, he wanted to try his hand at being even more enterprising and eventually left his law firm. He developed a couple of very successful businesses and was seen as a resounding success by everyone. But there was a yearning in him for deeper meaning in his life. In reflecting on that time in his life, Mark realized he was too self-focused; he had a need to do something more with his life and he decided to pursue an earlier dream of being in the ministry.
With his youngest of three children just starting kindergarten, the Vickstrom family picked up stakes and moved to the Northeast where Mark enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary. After graduation, Mark looked around for the position that felt right for him in the ministry, but it took some time to have that position materialize. He had several job possibilities but held back because he didn’t feel those situations were totally right for him. He was actually working as a ski instructor, when he was contacted about a part-time position at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church where he worked part-time for several years. Mark became the full-time pastor of St. Andrew Church in 2008 when the other pastor moved on.
He is extremely happy with the current focus of his small church which is all about being mission driven, seeking out ways to help people in need. For example, when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Mark and his church members wanted to do something very active to help the people who were suffering so much. They developed a musical concert, which they produced several times, and netted $17,000 for hurricane victims. They did a similar type of fundraiser for victims of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia and have also been involved in working in Guatemala and with Habitat for Humanity. Mark is very careful to give the credit to his church members, but it is clear that his leadership also played an important role.
Mark has been very active in combining his enterprising spirit and substantive business experience with reaching out to help those in the community who need help with food, jobs, bills, improving energy usage, or a place to live. He served on the Board of Directors of the Community Ministry in Denver and imparted a lot of his business sense to make that worthy organization more effective and was also financially generous to their cause. In 2011 Community Ministry honored Mark with a new award which they then named after him. The Mark Vickstrom Philanthropy Award will now be given out on a yearly basis.
Mark is a past president of Evergreen Rotary and after his year of service as president got involved at the District Level as Membership Growth and Retention Chair.
Mark and Anne have three children, Will (23), Elizabeth, (19), and Caroline, who is in her senior year at Evergreen High School. Once his children are all launched in to their adult lives, he thinks he might be open to a new adventure, or maybe even ripe for a new calling, a new endeavor, or even possibly a new country to live in for a time. On the other hand, he sure finds the work at St. Anthony’s important and gratifying. Regardless of whatever his future holds, the communities of Evergreen and Denver are fortunate to have him in our midst.