Prairie Profiles: ‘Point them to Christ’

Published 8:00 pm Monday, September 2, 2019

Vicar at Hartland, Manchester churches getting to know area

HARTLAND — There’s a new face at Hartland and Manchester Lutheran churches this year.

Starting at the end of June and continuing through May 2020, Ethan Urtel is serving as a pastoral intern, also known as a vicar, at the two churches.

Urtel grew up in Brooklyn Center and attended Bethany Lutheran College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in religion in 2016. He went on to attend Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, through which he is now completing his fourth year. After three years of classroom training, being a vicar gives pastoral students the opportunity to learn all the regular duties of a pastor, including preaching, visiting members, leading Bible studies and teaching confirmation classes, among other duties.

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Urtel is serving under the pastor of both of the churches, Shawn Stafford, who also teaches at Bethany Lutheran College twice a week.

Urtel said there wasn’t really one thing that led him to the seminary, but as he met different students who were looking to be pastors and talked with the chaplain at Bethany Lutheran, he was encouraged to think about the opportunity. He was also aware of the shortage of pastors and was drawn to the counseling portion that being a pastor provides.

He said he is looking to offer people hope and encouragement and point them to their Savior, Jesus Christ.

His installation was June 30, and he has been busy in the weeks since going to camp, doing sermons every other week, visiting members and helping with Bible study. He said they will soon begin Sunday school classes and planning youth activities and confirmation classes.

“It’s been good — getting more experience with teaching, meeting some of the families and getting to go over to some of their houses and get to know them better,” Urtel said.

The Hartland church averages about 45 in attendance, while the Manchester church averages about 14.

“I definitely appreciate all the support,” he said. “It’s nice to be in the same state I grew up in. I really want to make the community feel welcome if they ever want to stop by. We definitely are here for them and want to encourage them and point them to Christ.”

Stafford said because Urtel is 20 years younger than him, he brings a different perspective to the churches. Urtel has a different preaching style than he does, is more interested in counseling and is a good listener.

He also brings musical talents of singing, and Stafford said he hopes Urtel can provide leadership for the adult choir.

Urtel said in his spare time, he enjoys following the Minnesota Twins, playing his guitar and enjoying music. He also enjoys going home to see his dog, Mocha, a cocker spaniel.


Ethan Urtel

Age: 25

Address: Hartland

Livelihood: seminary student and vicar at Hartland and Manchester Lutheran churches

Family: father and mother, Gene and Jill Urtel; sister, Elisabeth

Interesting fact: Urtel attended Youth Educated At Home Academy and started college while he was still in high school.