Frezil Westerlund pastor for Western New Hope Parish
The new pastor for the Western New Hope Parish is Frezil Westerlund. Her responsibilities include shepherding the congregations of the First Lutheran Church in Philip, the Long Valley Lutheran Church, Trinity Lutheran in Midland and Deep Creek Lutheran.
Though starting her duties on August 1, she is to be officially installed for the Parish in Midland at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 19.
"I really liked the people when I came down here for the interview," said Westerlund. "People are straight forward. Serving in the four churches is going to be an interesting challenge. I first saw Philip on May 13, Mother's Day. The call was issued about a month later."
Westerlund will work in this area, while her husband of 30 plus years, Douglas, will continue his pastorship at Trinity Lutheran in Mobridge. They will visit each other on their free days, unless, of course, unpredictable duties say otherwise. Westerlund plans to always be accessible to her congregations.
The couple have two children - Felicia who is a senior at the University of South Dakota and Ragin who is deceased. Westerlund does have part of the 'family' staying with her, two friendly huskies, Baldar and Rolf.
Pastorship is nothing new to Frezil (a French Huguenot surname). Her family has been in the pastorship for 500 years. "My husband and I have been in ministry for most of our married life," said Westerlund. We were in seminary together." They have co-pastored for 12 years at a church in Rochester, Minn.
"Rochester was a good situation," said Westerlund, "but we felt it was time to move on and do something different. It's less stressful working in separate churches. If there is a problem in my church, I can get Douglas' sympathy as a spouse, but in the same church, my problems are his problems."
"In the Lutheran churches, eight months wait for a permanent pastor isn't bad," said Westerlund. "It took almost three years for the Minnesota church to find replacements for the two of us."
For the last three years, Frezil has been the priest in charge for seven churches at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, while her husband was in Mobridge. The seven churches are Episcopal. "It was a very interesting experience," said Westerlund.
"I am very theologically based. The Lutheran model is to have a theologian in every parish. I am neo-orthodox and very Bible based. In addition to my masters in Divinity, I have a masters in family counseling. Maybe, there will be some parenting classes offered out of my churches."
Westerlund is a Chaplain Lt. Col. with the Civil Air Patrol and was the Chief of Chaplains for the state of Minnesota where she supervised 17 other clergy. She has been to nine encampments - a basic training for cadets.
"Also, for about 10 years, I have been on a Critical Incident Debriefing Team. That is for counseling after accidents or occurrences to victims, students, police, EMTs, and others to prevent post traumatic stress syndrome," said Westerlund.
"I get along with teenagers. I like kids. I didn't ever grow up."
She enjoys art, having taken art and art history while in college. "I love all things Western; art, rodeo, the Wall Drug gallery," said Westerlund. "I like to use skits and plays in church. Some people have said that they have not really understood certain things as well until after they participated in or saw such a play." She was delighted in hearing of the Philip High School plays and the Philip Community Theater. "Good preaching, like good theater, is good communication."
Westerlund enjoys bicycling. "Mobridge still has a drive-in. One night, just for fun, Douglas and I went to it on our bikes. People will see me around Philip on my bicycle. It's a recumbent (resembling a three-wheeled recliner). Please don't run over the pastor riding the tricycle."