Whether behind the pulpit or behind the plate, Edna Stahl spent her eight years as the associate pastor at Norwalk First United Methodist Church getting involved.
She not only worked with parishioners and families, she helped start the church's first women's softball team. "When we started the softball team four years ago," she said, "we created the criteria that we would have fun, fellowship and cheesecake. I earned the position of catcher because nobody else wanted to catch."
This week her family is moving to Aurora, where she will take over as the pastor of Aurora United Methodist Church and, while the challenge of a new position is exciting, Stahl said leaving Norwalk is hard.
"Norwalk is a beautiful city to raise a young family," Stahl said. "It's been a real privilege to serve the community."
Kelly Strimpfel, former church financial secretary, said the community will miss Stahl.
"I helped hire Edna," said Strimpfel. "We just thought she was going to be an awesome asset and it proved to be true. She's just a well-rounded, soulful, awesome lady. And she's a heck of a softball player."
Stahl, born in Guatemala, is a third-generation pastor following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. Her parents brought her to the United States when she was 4 years old. She said she envisioned a career as a kindergarten teacher, but couldn't ignore her calling after earning a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology.
"As a teen, I had a vision and Jesus said, 'Come to me, follow me,'" she said. She asked her friends sitting next to her if they heard anything and they hadn't. "I kept that quiet," she said.
Stahl credits her husband, Doug, for his tremendous support for her career as a preacher. "The sacrifices of my family have been very generous," she said. The couple have five children Christine, 13; Ashley, 11; Joshua, 9; and twins Nolan and Ryan, 5. Doug is now back in college working on his bachelor's degree.
Strimpfel said one of Stahl's biggest contributions has been building up a dynamic youth program. "She's made confirmation a true rite of passage," Strimpfel said. "She's confirmed all three of my daughters. She married my oldest daughter. She resided over our renewal vows for our 25th anniversary."
Strimpfel also said one of Stahl's assets is her ability to work with all ages. "She's great with people from earth to birth," Strimpfel said. "She's just got a way about her to connect with any age. She knows how to sit down and listen and she's funny."
Those qualities helped Stahl serve the community as she became the first female pastor at the Methodist church in Norwalk. "It's big high heels to fill," Strimpfel said of Stahl's legacy. "She definitely handled the challenge."