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On July 4, 2021, I began serving my fourth year at Rice Lake. I am grateful to be serving two wonderful churches, Canton UMC and First UMC of Rice Lake. I received my call into ministry August 23, 1996 and began serving as a pastor in September 1998. God nudged me onward to become an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. This meant returning to undergrad- ugh! I earned a BA in Religion and minor in Communications at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN in May 2006. A few months later, I moved to California to attend Claremont School of Theology and received a Master of Divinity in May 2009.
Ministry has changed a lot since those early years. God’s people have changed a lot since that time too! I remember my first cell phone was a bag phone. It looked like a black, brick purse-like bag with a corded telephone attached to it. There was a wired antenna that ran out the window and sat on top of the car roof. It was the only way to get cellular service in the rural areas of WI. Today, I have an iPhone that requires no external antenna. I can access the web, take pictures, access email, read my Bible and write sermons on my cell phone! Oh yeah, I can call anywhere in the world, too.
Along with the changes in cell phones, ministry technology has changed dramatically. This past year because of Covid restrictions, I learned how to video worship services, edit and upload services to the church FaceBook page, YouTube and PhoneLivestream service which allows those who do not have internet to listen to the service on their landline. Children’s Sunday School was sent via email, giving went automated, the older version of prayer chain (imagine the child game of telephone) evolved to a prayer chain email, newsletters and bulletins became more accessible online and now we offer hybrid services each Sunday where a person can watch from home, on the phone or live on FaceBook. The learning curve has been significant as these things were not taught in seminary.
While the methods have changed, my passion for ministry and need for creative and relevant ministry are always engaging behind the scenes. One area I love as pastor is creating meaningful worship services. We each have five senses and I believe that we need to use them in worship in various ways to connect and live out our faith in God throughout the week. I am passionate about children and youth ministry focusing on children’s ministry today and not just part of the future church.
My time in CA opened new understanding to how we are all part of God’s kin-dom and unfortunately, many people have been marginalized from the church and society. I’m pretty sure that was not God’s plan. I was blessed to serve churches in CA that focused on multi-cultural needs (the churches were very diverse), social justice concerns, revitalization and growth, evangelism and outreach, worship arts/altar décor and reconciling ministries. A few of my roles included Director of Evangelism, Youth Pastor and Urban and multi-cultural ministries intern. I was an active member of CLUE- Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, an organization that goes to the root of social justice problems to advocate for change while supporting those who were struggling due to injustice. I served on the Cal-Pac Ann Conf worship design team and was head of Visual Arts for Ann Conf worship. In 2015, God called me back to Wisconsin to be closer to family and serve in ministry here. Currently, I use my gifts on the Conf Programming and Accommodations committee and chair of Building and Locations for Northwest District.
I am Midwest native, growing up in Minnesota and then moving to Frederic, WI during my high school years. I worked in our family flower shop and greenhouses for many years while raising my family. I am a proud mom to Curtis (Aubrey), Chelsey (Wylie) and Chad (Jen). I have 5 awesome and adorable grandchildren: Emersyn, Mason, Beckett, Hayzel, and Everly.
I worked few other jobs before becoming a pastor: realtor, interior designer, and District Manager for Christmas Around the World. God was preparing me in these jobs for the wide range of skills that come with being a pastor. When I have extra time, you will find me in the garden, crafting, decorating, cooking, singing, trying to figure out my camera or planning another trip somewhere awesome.
Now that you know more about me, I look forward to knowing more about you!
Your sister in Christ,
Rev Susan Oeffler