Pastor Jerry Back poses for a portrait at the North Creek Country Church on Tuesday in Bothell. Back helps struggling churches remain open, including the North Creek Country Church, where he volunteered as interim pastor for the past five years. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

Pastor Jerry Back poses for a portrait at the North Creek Country Church on Tuesday in Bothell. Back helps struggling churches remain open, including the North Creek Country Church, where he volunteered as interim pastor for the past five years. (Daniella Beccaria / The Herald)

Pastor Jerry Back has led small churches for more than 40 years

MILL CREEK — He has traveled to churches as a modern-day circuit rider.

Pastor Jerry Back, 74, has spent more than 40 years raising up small churches.

He and his wife, Christine, started two themselves. The congregations sprouted from Bible study groups.

His burden to care for community churches brought him to Mill Creek. He volunteered to be the North Creek Country Church’s interim pastor in 2011, and has been there ever since.

Back went into the Navy as a young man looking for someplace to make his own. It was the Navigators, a Christian ministry that travels with Naval staff, who helped him know Jesus, he said.

Back originally dreamed of being a missionary. He wanted to teach in Hong Kong’s rooftop schools.

However, he began realizing the challenges small congregations face.

“Small churches don’t have revolving doors,” he said. “If you lose one family, that can be serious.”

Back went on to finish a masters in divinity and two doctorates in ministry. He wanted to be equipped to offer resources and guidance to churches that are trying to manage and grow.

To support his passion, he took up odd jobs. Back has worked on a dairy farm run by a Swiss woman. His labor scored him a place to sleep in the bunkhouse. He also has worked for an electrical contracting company, a garbage dump and dabbled in title insurance.

He has had the opportunity to teach at colleges in Washington, California, Montana and Indiana.

Back has since moved into a home a mile away from North Creek Country Church. The church was built back in the 1880s by a Swedish family and has a long history of roaming pastors, like Back.

The goal is to make the job easier for the next guy, Back said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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