Fred Thimmel, president of Bryant Products Inc. in Ixonia, which produces conveyor components and custom products and coatings, has always been a religious man. When he was 20, he even considered entering the seminary.
“I lost my way for a bit, and eventually followed my entrepreneurial passions instead,” he said. “I have been very involved in the church, though, my entire adult life, and when the opportunity arose for me to play a bigger role by filling in as a pastor, I decided I really wanted to do it.”
Thimmel is now an associate minister at First Congregation Church in Mukwonago. He preaches a few Sundays a month and also leads regular adult classes at the church.
“I’ve been officially ordained as a lay-minister in the Congregational tradition,” Thimmel said. “It’s a little unique, but I think God intended me to do what I’ve done in life. I bring my business experience and background and knowledge about how the world works to the church.”
Rather than going to traditional seminary school, Thimmel spent four years studying under other ministers. He wrote essays and read and was later tested on his knowledge.
Thimmel eventually hopes to take a more active approach to his work at the church. He is heavily involved with the church’s mission to set up a congregation and a clinic in Cameroon, Africa.
“My faith is very important to me,” he said. “God has been more generous with me than I deserve and I feel it is my duty to share that generosity with others. If we can continue our mission in Cameroon and be successful, that’s saving souls and saving lives. That’s the right thing to do.”