ZANESVILLE — The Bible has intrigued Mark Tonkery since his youth.
He recalled a Sunday school teacher saying he’d make a good preacher, but Mark never considered the profession until facing personal matters at age 18.
It reignited a fire for Tonkery, who has spent the past 28 years in the ministry. He recently started as the minister of Norval Park Church of Christ on Arch Street in Zanesville.
He is the 12th full time minister in the church’s history since it opened in 1919.
“I’ve always had an interest in studying the Bible,” Tonkery remarked. “I resisted that idea for awhile, but when I went through some personal things, I started studying the Bible again. I was seeking the Lord and fell in love with ministry. I have a true passion to serve God and people.”
Tonkery, who grew up in Fairmont, West Virginia, spent the past six years with Camden Avenue Church of Christ in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Valley University and continued his education at Harding University before completing his master’s of christian leadership at Kentucky Christian University.
His knowledge of the area was a draw to Zanesville. Tonkery interned with a church in Cambridge and has lived in the Ohio Valley his whole life.
Along with his passion for the church, he enjoys the outdoors. Being close to numerous state parks and other outdoor venues allows Tonkery to pursue his other interests like camping, hiking and fishing.
Tonkery and his wife of 24 years, Laura, will live in Zanesville, while his two daughters, Breanna and Samantha, are in college.
“I knew several people from the area through working church camps and building relationships,” he said. “There are lot of outdoor activities nearby so that was another draw. I also enjoy to garden and read, and I love to spend time with family and friends. Laura was raised in Gahanna so this is close for her friends and family, which was another reason that drew us here.”
Community is a big part of Norval Park’s mission. The church offers a food pantry and works with children’s homes in the area. Tonkery noted one of his goals is to continue to build the church’s outreach in the community.
As a former Boy Scout, he also understands the importance of community service. He expects Norval Park to continue to be an asset for Zanesville and the surrounding area.
“I believe in a Christ-centered, people-oriented and service-related ministry,” Tonkery said. “I want to teach people the Bible, while also building relationships with our congregation and the community. I’ve learned through my years that you help where you can and connect with people when you can. Those are important values to me, and I want those to show through our congregation to the community.”