Helmut Schmidt, Published December 27 2012
Person of Your Year: Dilenschneider’s traits made year brighter for others in church
The Edgewood bunch crowded around a table to be included in the webcam’s view as they talked to Dilenschneider, and when it was over, one of them joked, “we must have looked like the Lord’s Supper, only with a whole lot of Norwegians and Germans,” Tweed said.
Apparently, Dilenschneider saw a crew of top-notch disciples in that chat, and they found themselves a good shepherd for the past 18 months.
In fact, Dilenschneider is so good with her flock that Tweed nominated her as a “Person of Your Year.”
“She is probably the most formally educated person I’ve ever known who still has an open heart and open mind and is welcoming of all kinds of thoughts and dreams,” Tweed said.
“I don’t know if she has the capacity to be mean about anything,” Tweed said. “She has so many skills …. and does an incredible job of teaching, and comforting, and making Scripture new.”
Dilenschneider, 57, embodies effervescence.
Words bubble out of her in a torrent. Happiness and energy fill her voice.
“Just a big, bright smile, and such glee. She’s just a person who brings joy,” Tweed said.
Dilenschneider decided to come to Fargo to get her psychology residency in part because funds for mental health were drying up in California.
“I said, ‘Gee, why not?’ I came to love it. And the weather’s not bad. I just love the snow and the ice rinks and the way people cope with the cold,” Dilenschneider said.
The Edgewood gig was supposed to be a part-time job while Dilenschneider did a psychology post-doctoral residency at Fargo’s Child and Family Therapy Associates.
But she’s given Edgewood UMC full-time vigor.
Dilenschneider has been there for births and deaths, reached out to the elderly and revitalized worship, Tweed said.
She’s also helped the church through the tough decision to move from its building because of mold problems. Services now are held at First United Methodist Church.
“There’s an atmosphere of nothing you say is stupid. Everything and everyone is valuable,” Tweed said. “She is just a real star for me.”
In turn, Dilenschneider praises the Edgewood congregation’s mission work, particularly in helping the area’s homeless.
“It’s a great bunch of people. For me, it’s been a privilege to get to know them,” Dilenschneider said.
“If I had just come to do clinical psychology, I would have missed out on so many things, including lutefisk.”
Dilenschneider was born in Maryland, but grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and attended the University of Notre Dame.
After a stop in St. Louis, she moved to California, where she lived for 30 years. She attended a seminary and started pastoral work in 1987, earning a doctorate in divinity in 2000 and a doctorate in psychology in 2010.
“So I’m way overeducated!” Dilenschneider said.
A mother of four and grandmother of two, she next will work as a clinician at Sioux Falls Psychological Services. She’ll also teach at Sioux Falls Seminary.
While in Sioux Falls, she also looks forward to working with the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies.
“I just keep following the breadcrumbs. That’s how I describe my life,” Dilenschneider said.
Tweed, for her part, says Sioux Falls and its seminary is getting a great deal when they get Dilenschneider.
“I’m just really grateful,” Tweed said. “I think God brought her to this part of the country to help the greater church and the greater community.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583
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