Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2013, 3:42 am

Serving Grace Lutheran's flock excludes birds

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

DAVENPORT -- She admits to being deathly afraid of birds, including a strong Hawkeye dislike.

However, Amy Wenzel now finds herself surrounded by swarms of Iowa black-and-gold birds, after accepting a post as a faith and formation director at Grace Lutheran Church, 1140 E. High St.

"There's going to be trouble when it comes time for Hawkeyes vs. Badgers, or Packers vs. Bears," said the Sun Prairie, Wis., native. "I'm also a big Brewers fan."

Her fondness for Sun Prairie mascot Jimmy the Groundhog is a bit tempered. Jimmy battles Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil each year for Groundhog Day weather-predicting honors.

"I'm fond of Jimmy, but not when people park all their cars in front of our house and leave no parking places for us," Miss Wenzel said, adding that Sun Prairie draws lots of traffic on Groundhog Day.

Miss Wenzel was installed in her new position on Aug. 18, and turned 22 on Aug. 22, to continue an interesting numerical trend. For example, she said she graduated from Sun Prairie, Wis., High School on 9/9/09 and from Augsburg College in Minneapolis on 12/12/12.

The faith formation director is focused on those in the first third of life (newborn to young adult).
"And any and all other duties as assigned," Miss Wenzel added..

After graduating from college in December, Miss Wenzel distributed 37 job applications before Grace Lutheran selected her.

"I wanted to stay somewhere in the Midwest, and had said whichever place hired me first, that's where I was going," she said. "Now I get to do what I've been called to do, and what I spent 3 1/2 years studying to do."

She plans to devote her first year to building relationships with parishioners to gain a better understanding of where people exist on their spiritual journeys.

Miss Wenzel's also interested in ice hockey. She was a "Team Hustle" award winner in high school, won a coveted Joyce Pfaff Academic Athletic Award in college, and said she'd like to coach hockey.

She hopes to soon adopt a shelter dog to keep her company, especially on long walks beside the river.

Miss Wenzel also has a goal to keep a plant, given to her by the church's call committee, alive despite not having a green thumb.

She said church members also wrote welcoming messages on sticky notes and attached them to her new office door and walls.

"It's been an awesome welcome," she said. "This feels like a warm, open, small town, with some big-town features."

But don't expect her to spend time bird-watching.

AMY WENZEL
Address: Davenport.
Birth date: Aug. 22, 1991.
Education: Graduated from Sun Prairie, Wis., high school on Sept. 9, 2009, and Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minn., on Dec. 12, 2012.
Hometown: Sun Prairie, Wis.
Family: Parents, Dawn and Tim Wenzel; brother, Kevin Wenzel;, and a four-legged "sister" named Laddy, all in Sun Prairie.
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: Jesus.
Hobbies: Ice hockey, Milwaukee Brewers baseball.
I wish I knew how to: Drive a manual transmission.