By Ivan Raconteur
Vicar David Erbel will bring a lifetime of experience as a teacher and peace officer to his new assignment at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Lester Prairie.
Erbel taught middle school students at Lutheran and Catholic schools in Minneapolis, Chaska, and Chanhassen for about 10 years before embarking on a full-time career as a peace officer with the Carver County Sheriff’s Department.
Prior to that, he worked for the sheriff’s office part-time while he was teaching.
He took early retirement after 21 years with the sheriff’s office.
He then spent a year teaching at Zion Lutheran School in Mayer.
After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he went back to law enforcement, and was employed for five years by the Minneapolis Airport Police.
Erbel then set out to accomplish his long-time goal of becoming a pastor.
He attended Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo.
He completed his academic work in two years, and graduated in May.
The final step in the process is one-year of service as a vicar.
“It was a very pleasant thought when I learned my vicarage assignment would be at St. Peter. I knew the church, and I had been here in the past,” Erbel said.
During his year at St. Peter, he will work under the supervision of Pastor Eric Nelson of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lester Prairie.
Erbel was born in Pittsburgh, Penn. and spent his middle school and high school years in Florida. He has lived in Carver County since 1969.
Erbel’s home congregation is Trinity in Waconia, where he has been a member for more than 30 years.
“I have been a Sunday school superintendent, a church elder, and chairman of the congregation, so I had the opportunity to experience things from the layman’s side,” Erbel said.
After graduating from seminary, Erbel took a police chaplain course, and he hopes to do some work in this area as well, possibly with the McLeod County Sheriff’s office.
Erbel said when he started seminary, his first assignment seemed like it was a long way off, but now that it is here, he is exited about the opportunity to come to Lester Prairie.
He said he is looking forward to teaching confirmation class and adult Bible study.
“I hope to spread the message of loving God, through worship, loving each other, and serving the world by reaching out and helping each other,” Erbel said
“I love teaching and working with the youth in the congregation,” he added.
Erbel is single and has three adult daughters and seven grandchildren. His daughters and their children live in Carver, Chanhassen, and Scottsdale, Arizona.
When he is not working, Erbel enjoys outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, water skiing, golf, and tennis.
He enjoys walking at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which he says is a good place to meditate or take a book, and ever do some sermon preparation. He said he looks forward to exploring Lester Prairie’s Sunrise Nature Park.
Work is currently being done on the parsonage, but Erbel expects to be able to move in around labor day. For now, he is enjoying “a nice, pleasant drive” from his home south of Waconia to Lester Prairie.
“I’ve been impressed by the number of volunteers who have stepped forward to help me get settled in. The volunteer spirit seems to be very good,” he commented.
In addition to getting to know his new congregation, Erbel said he will look for ways to become involved in the community.
Erbel said all of the jobs he has had over the years have involved teaching and working with people, and he hopes these skills will continue to serve him well in his new assignment.