Our Pastor

Pastor Marin’s Story

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Pastor Cerchez and family

Pastor Cerchez with his wife, Tatianna, their daughter, Anna, and son, Daniel.

When the break-up of the Soviet Union occurred in December 1991, Moldova declared its independence and gave the people religious freedom. When Bibles became available about 1992, Pastor Marin to start reading and studying scripture. The Holy Spirit started working in his heart and brought him to faith. Among other books, he also received a copy of Luther’s Large Catechism which he liked and used often. Unfortunately, the Lutheran Church in Moldova had been destroyed by the Soviets by that time.

Pastor Marin graduated from high school in 1994, and enrolled in the State Medical University at age 17. After a six-year program, he graduated with his medical degree in 2000, then spent a year doing his internship and continued practicing medicine until the fall of 2003. During that time, he became increasingly interested in studying the history of religions, the Bible, and Christian apologetics, and he studied German, English, Latin, History, Archaeology, and Anthropology at High Anthropological School. He obtained a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, in 2003.

In 2003, he married Tatiana, who is also talented in languages and arts, and he enrolled, with a full scholarship in Central European University, an English-language university in Budapest. There, Pastor Marin studied History and obtained his M.A. in Medieval Studies, in 2004.

Pastor and Tatiana returned to Moldova in 2004. He taught master’s level courses on the History of Christianity at Moldova State University and practiced medicine. He also was involved in campus ministry. In 2005, the Cerchez family went to England, where Pastor Marin was a Ph.D. student studying History at the University of Oxford.

When funding ran out in 2006, they returned to Moldova where Pastor Marin continued to teach, develop curricula, and write texts, including a textbook on the history of Christianity. Along with being a professor at Moldova State University, he also taught at Pedagogical State University.

Pastor Marin continued to pursue funding to further his education. Scholarships were available from the Open Society Foundation which allowed people from Eastern Europe to study in the United States, but these scholarships were very competitive. He was awarded the scholarship in 2008, but had to postpone for a year due to the poor health of his father, who passed away that year from cancer.

In 2009, the Cerchez’ daughter, Anna, was born in Moldova, and was 2 months old when they arrived in the United States, when Pastor Marin started his Ph.D. program at Catholic University in Washington D.C.  Their son, Daniel, was born in America in 2013.

When his former supervising professor accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, in 2010, the Cerchez family followed her there so Pastor Marin could complete his dissertation and Ph.D. in 2014 with a major in History and minor in Comparative Literature.

While in Madison, Pastor Marin was an active member in his congregation and involved in an outreach to Russian-speaking immigrants in Madison and Milwaukee. When Marin felt called to serve the Lord as a pastor, his pastor initiated contact with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.   

Pastor Marin returned to Moldova for the 2014-2015 school year, where he and his sister’s husband opened a private language school. After funding for seminary came through in 2015, he and his family returned to the United States, and Pastor Marin began his studies. He tested out of all Classical Languages requirements and was given advanced standing due to his previous education, which eliminated the fourth year of seminary, after his vicarage.

After completing seminary in 2018, Pastor Marin was called to St. John Lutheran Church in Jenison, MI.  While there, Pastor Marin was involved in the revitalization of St. John and development of new ministries (student ministry, Christian media studio, pro-life ministry, apologetics organization at Grand Valley State University).

In June, 2023, Pastor Marin accepted a call and was installed as pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Charleston, S.C.

Pastor Marin is passionate about Christ and the Gospel. His priorities are evangelism and discipleship. And he credits Tatiana with inspiring him, and giving him the courage to reach out to even strangers. Their unique gifts and talents come together to serve as a dynamic force as messengers for Christ.


Interesting Facts about Pastor Marin

Advanced Degrees He Has Earned:

  • M.D. 2000
  • B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, 2003
  • M.A. in Medieval Studies, 2004
  • Ph.D. in History and Comparative
    Literature, 2014
  • M.Div. at Fort Wayne Seminary, 2018

10 Languages He Has Studied


  • Romanian
  • Moldovan
  • Ukrainian
  • Russian
  • English
  • French
  • German


  • Latin
  • Greek
  • Hebrew