Emmanuel Lutheran Church will welcomed Valerie Carlson, its newly called pastor Sunday at the church's 10:15 morning worship.

The congregational Call Committee issued a call to Carlson after interviewing several candidates in a yearlong search.

Carlson is a 2012 graduate of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. She is married to fellow PLTS graduate Dan Carlson. She grew up in Middlebury, Ind., and after high school moved to Seattle to pursue a degree in social work from the University of Washington, a field she subsequently worked in for three years.

In Seattle she was a parishioner at Gift of Grace Lutheran Church, the 100-year-old congregation her father serves as pastor.

Her passionate interest in sermon writing, Bible study and youth ministry translated to a decision to answer a call to the ministry, which she acted upon by applying to and being accepted to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Her internship year was spent at Desert Lutheran Church, serving Tempe and Gilbert, Ariz.

Undaunted by Bakersfield's warm summer days after a year in Arizona, Pastor Carlson said, "I am delighted to be called to Emmanuel! It is such a dynamic community. At Emmanuel, people hear that call to love our neighbors loud and clear, and are always joyfully and prayerfully seeking ways to follow the living Christ with their answer."

An active and dedicated athlete, Pastor Carlson looks forward to running, using the bike path and finding Bakersfield devotees to the team sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

Pastor Carlson's first Sunday included the church's annual Blessing of the Backpacks. Children from the church's Saturday neighborhood enrichment program, Fun, Adventure, and Bible (F.A.B), will receive school supplies for the backpacks they decorated at a FAB Saturday, which, along with congregational members and educators' backpacks, school supplies, laptops and books, will receive an official blessing during the church service.

Pastor Carlson will be installed at a special service at Emmanuel in late September, presided over by the Rev. Dean Nelson, bishop of the Southern California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Local pastors from denominations throughout the city are invited to attend and participate in the ordination service.

-- Kristie Coons is a congregant of Emmanuel Lutheran Church.