The interim minister at First Presbyterian Church of Grimes, Reverend Jessica Wietzke, took a long path to get to her current position, a path that led her from a small Iowa town to Princeton University and back again.
Raised on a family farm in Greenfield, Wietzke says she grew up with a strong religious tradition in her home. However, she didn’t think about attending seminary until after she graduated from Central College in Pella, where she had studied English, communication and Spanish and found herself working in an insurance company.
“I finally listened to the many people in my life who told me to go to seminary,” she says. “And it solidified my calling.”
Before going to school, Wietzke also attended Youth With a Mission’s Discipleship Training School (DTS), where she traveled all over the world, including providing hurricane relief work on a Polynesian island and working with the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand.
After DTS, Wietzke attended Princeton Theological Seminary at Princeton University. Though the school provided rigorous and invaluable experience, she says she missed the Midwestern way of life.
“There’s a slower pace here that I appreciate,” she says.
After graduating from seminary school, she served as an intern for several churches in southwest Iowa and eventually accepted a position in Indiana, where she worked for three and a half years. However, Wietzke wanted to return to Iowa to be closer to her family, and when the interim position opened up at First Presbyterian Church, she leapt at the opportunity.
Though she’s only been in Grimes since May, Wietzke says she loves and appreciates the traditions and diverse generations to be found in the town.
“I love hearing the stories about when the town was only 500 people and when everyone worked in the canning factory,” she says. “Church can provide that kind of reflection of a community and its history.”
She also says she’s eager to help the church explore new ways to grow and attract new membership.
“It’s about balancing the well-worn traditions with new forms of expression in worship,” she says.