Name: Michael Mandsager
Job title: Associate pastor
Church: First English Lutheran Church
Family, including pets: Daughter, Julia; son, Erik; two cats, Bart and Ringo
High school: Decorah High School
College/higher education: Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf; Master of Divinity, Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul
Time as a pastor: 16 years
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Time in your current position: 1 1/2 years
When and how did you know you would be a minister? It was a gradual process, but by the time I finished seminary, I had a pretty good idea what I would do. It's a good life.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a pastor? Probably keeping up with the demands of parish and family, which are sometimes in tension. It's a matter of prioritizing.
What makes your church special? First English Lutheran Church has a wonderful variety of people from all the generations. It's a place with a sense of history and with a bright future. People speak their minds here, but without rancor. The worship is excellent and the building is beautiful.
What was the best sermon you ever gave about? It's not my place to say, but last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 25 got a good response. It was good to know that Christ's message of concern for the poor resonated with the people of this congregation.
Favorite food: Pizza
Least favorite food: Crab (I got sick on it as a kid.)
Favorite book: "The Lord of the Rings"
Favorite movie: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
Hobbies: Reading, music and, recently, running
Bible verse that's most inspiring to you and why: Mark 9:24: "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.'"
Jesus' acceptance of us and our doubts has been a comfort to me in dark times.