New minister sees great things in Fergus FallsPublished 11:08am Thursday, July 11, 2013
On Wednesday afternoon, the Rev. Dr. Wesley Gabel looked around his new office at Grace United Methodist Church before dropping back into a chair.
“I’m still getting used to everything,” he said with a laugh.
In the middle of his first full week as the new pastor, he’s still adjusting to his new community. But if there’s one thing he already knows, it’s that he sees great things in Fergus Falls.
“Together, nothing is impossible with God. The possibilities in Fergus Falls are limitless,” Gabel said. “This is a place for people to be restored, to be refreshed. This is a place for people to return to who they are with God.”
Gabel brings a long history of pastoral ministry in the Methodist church, having served for 32 years. His experience preaching, however, extends farther back than that.
Raised in a religious family with a father who was also a minister, Gabel graduated high school in Watertown, S.D. His father led four churches in the area, all a number of miles apart.
When the churches started arguing over his father’s time, Gabel’s mother began ministering in 1966. Just before the women’s movement became a national event, she was one of the first female ministers in the church.
“I used to say I had a preacher on both sides of the table,” he said.
After his father passed away, Gabel helped his mother with two of the churches she still led as she got older. When he graduated, he attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. and joined the schools active Lutheran students in worship.
While it would seem the ministry would have been his best fit as a career, Gabel’s was set on becoming a lawyer after he graduated. An experience in Hawaii with a Lutheran group made him realize that any other career would be disingenuous to what he believed God had planned for his life.
Now, all those years later, Gabel’s experiences with a variety of different congregations and communities across the globe has become part of his ministry.
During positions in Rochester, Minneapolis and southwest Minnesota, Gabel often worked with different church communities to better the area they lived in.
“We really all have different gifts to bring,” he said. “There are different denominations, but there is only one church.”
Over time, seeing God work through his congregations has become one of Gabel’s favorite parts of his job as a minister.
“You see the birth of God’s potential in human beings,” he said. “You’re papa, or momma, of people who are broken, who get into trouble and hurt people. But, I tell you, that’s still a privelage.”
Having just started on June 30, Gabel, his wife, Diane, and son, Joe, who will be a junior at the high school next year and is the youngest of their four children, the family is still getting settled in the community. But Grace Methodist and its active church leadership and congregation has already made an impression on Gabel.
While he will rely on all the experience he’s garnered in his life, Gabel said he is excited about the opportunity to connect with his parishoners in this new beginning.
“You want to hear peoples’ stories and know what God’s been doing here,” he said. “I don’t have a program or a picture right now of what I want to do or what I want the church to look like. I just come to meet people who walk with God.”