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  • Writer's picturePZ

Celebrating a Legacy

Updated: May 29

NOTE, May 29:

Today's #WakondaWednesday email linked to last week's article:

For today's (May 29) article about new Area Coordinators, Click HERE

This article is part 1 of a two-part series about Wisconsin Pathfinder Area Coordinators

Wisconsin has been blessed with an excellent team of conference Pathfinders leaders. When I say that, you may be tempted to look back on a star-studded cast of Youth Directors, and with good reason: we've had some great ones here in Wisconsin. But I want to challenge you to look at our ministry from a different angle.

You see, back when I began working for the Wisconsin Conference in 2012, Pastor Greg Taylor was the Youth Director; in 2016, Pastor Eric Chavez took over that role, and in 2021 I was selected to continue the youth work in Wisconsin. In that same span of time that the conference has seen three youth directors: the volunteer leadership of conference coordinators has remained pretty much the same. Therein lies the secret to a strong Pathfinder team: a strong, committed local lay leadership. Talk to any conference about their Club Ministries success, and you're sure to hear the same thing.

This article is about celebrating the legacy of that leadership and telling their story, because unfortunately we have seen that team start to dissapate in the past year. Becky Ziesmer and Bekah Helsius, of the Northeastern Area, bowed out last May, and Steve and Carol Mertins of the Southern Area, have expressed intent to step down once this coming International Pathfinder Camporee comes to an end. That has left our Conference Pathfinders Ministry feeling very small, with some big shoes to fill! What I want to do today is state my appreciation for these leaders and all they have done for our Pathfinders over the years.

Becky Ziesmer began as an Area Coordinator in 2012, under Pastor Greg Taylor. She has a passion for excellence and has pushed our Pathfinders ministry to be better, whether it's elements of camping, uniforms and inspection, or our conference events. Recently, she served as Club Ministries Secretary in 2022-2023, and since 2022 she and her husband Elgin have been caretaking Camp Wakonda. So though she is stepping down from formal roles, she is still fairly involved in Pathfinders, via the campground.

Becky's daughter, Becka Helisus, began as Area Coordinator in 2017 under Pastor Eric Chavez. She worked with her mother on a team, covering the Northeast Area, and always played the role of making the quality of things just a little bit better. Having a degree in fine arts, Becka has provided beautiful Pathfinder-themed paintings (especially for our Conference and Lake Union welcome signs) for the past several International Camporees.

Steve and Carol came aboard as Area Coordinators in 2000, during the transition from Elder Dale Ziegele to Pastor Mike Edge, and have been overseeing the Southern Area ever since. Steve and Carol bring a no-nonsense seriousness to Pathfinders, and the quality of our programs has benefitted from that. Whether it's the annual Pathfinder Fair events, ordering pins for International Camporee, running the Area PBE event, or scoring in March & Drill: the Mertins take everything to the next level.

As you can tell: Wisconsin Pathfinders will miss these Area Coordinators. But they remain in Wisconsin, and it's true what they say: "once a Pathfinder, always a Pathfinder." While their official roles may have run their course, I have a confidence that we will benefit from their wisdom and mentorship for years to come.

Before I close, I want to formally say: THANK YOU to all of our former Wisconsin Pathfinder Area Coordinators. Our ministry here in the Wisconsin Conference is better off because of you. Thank you for contributing to the legacy of Pathfinders, and for helping shape future generations of church leaders through your care for discipleship and commitment to Christ. May you always go on God's errands, for the glory of His Kingdom.

Stay tuned for next week's article: we'll talk about what lies ahead for the future of Wisconsin Pathfinders, as a new team is forming to carry the work forward.

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