Would You Jump? Dale and Marcia Hummel’s Journey from Crown College to Wooddale Church

Would You Jump? Dale and Marcia Hummel’s Journey from Crown College to Wooddale Church

By Josie Parker

Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith. In Marcia Hummel’s case, that leap–strapped safely into a parachute–was right out of an airplane.

“My first jump was tandem,” Marcia explains. “When you think about it, you have no control. The person you are attached to on the harness is the one who has complete control. The tandem instructor would talk into my ear and tell me what to do. It’s a great picture of what God wants for our lives. He wants to be in control.”

Marcia says she will never forget the first time she tried skydiving. She explains how it required an incredible amount of faith–that sometimes, you just have to jump.

Early days at Crown College

That’s really the story of two Crown alumni. Marcia and her husband, Pastor Dale Hummel of Wooddale Church, began their journey as students at Crown, served in four ministries in different areas of the U.S., and joined Wooddale Church in 2013. Through it all, taking a leap of faith became the focus of their lives.

Dale and Marcia Hummel met at Crown College in 1977. Dale remembers the end of his first semester at Crown when he noticed one particular blonde cheerleader named Marcia. He described it as “love at first sight.” Dale says he asked Marcia out and they eventually married a year and a half later.

The couple describes their time at Crown as challenging and molding; but above all, it was inspiring. Dale and Marcia explained how the atmosphere, students, staff, and faculty at the college helped create a place of growth and spiritual development.

“Several professors at Crown had a particular influence on my life,” says Dale. “One professor that stands out is Stanton Richardson. He was a good teacher, one of those men that carried the presence of God with him.

“The emphasis at Crown was, what does it mean to live a Spirit-filled life? I saw that exemplified in Richardson’s life. It inspired me. I thought, that’s who I want to be.”

Dale and Marcia graduated from Crown in 1979, both with an Associate of General Studies. Dale had an interest in medicine, so the couple left Crown to explore medical school. In the meantime, the two married in 1979, then began volunteering at a Christian and Missionary Alliance church as youth pastors. Dale remembers feeling his life turn 180 degrees when God called him to continue working in the church and not pursue the medical field.

Following God’s lead, Dale and Marcia decided to return to Crown in 1980. Dale graduated again in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology. After that, the couple moved to Ohio and pastored Oak Harbor Alliance Chapel in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and then Valley View Evangelical Friends Church in Delaware, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Dale continued his schooling at Ashland Theological Seminary. Dale finished his Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) in 1987 and his Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in 1989. The Hummels spent seven years in Ohio before they felt God challenging their faith and pushing them in a different direction.

“We prayed and waited,” says Dale. “One opportunity led to another and First Baptist Church of Castro Valley, located in the San Francisco Bay area, contacted us. We didn’t expect it. But, I filled out an application and went through the interview process, and next thing you know, we were moving our family out to the West Coast.”

The move to California

Coming from a church of 90 people to a church of about 200, the weight of expectations suddenly laid heavy on the Hummels’ shoulders.

“I remember driving across the Rocky Mountains and feeling paralyzed with fear,” says Dale. “I remember thinking ‘What if I fail?’ But, I really felt God say to me ‘What if you do? I just need you to be faithful.’”

The Hummels arrived in California and resided there for 12 years. From 1989-2001, Dale and Marcia grew the modest congregation of 200 people to about 800. After a decade of work and development in California, the family felt God’s direction shift again.

The Hummels moved back to the Midwest in 2001 to pastor The Compass Church in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Dale describes the church as in need of a turn-around, and he hoped to build up the ministry while they resided there. Under the Hummels’ leadership, Compass increased in weekend attendance from 800 people to around 3,000 and built an $11 million worship center.

“It is so important to be focused on the vision and mission Christ has given us, and then be intentional about implementing the strategies to accomplish them,” says Dale. “Christ centered preaching with application, prayer and discipleship are all important keys. When we see God at work changing lives, it energizes the congregation.”

In early 2013, Dale received a phone call from his friend, Pat Mazorol, who was the chairman of the search committee and the board at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

As Dale reflects, “Pat told me that they would like me to be one of the people they consider for the lead pastor role. I went home and told Marcia and said ‘We are moving to Minnesota.’ I knew instantly that it was God’s will. Years ago, we had attended a few services at Wooddale. I specifically remember walking out and feeling like I was going to be back there again someday.”

The Hummels prayed diligently about the decision. In time, they accepted the role at Wooddale and moved back to Minnesota in 2013.

Transition into Wooddale Church

The Hummels describe the transition into Wooddale Church as a time of redevelopment. Together as a couple, they have been working to reinvigorate the church’s unchanged mission to honor God by making more disciples of Jesus Christ.

“In the last four years, Wooddale has been working to become even more outwardly-focused,” says Dale. “We want to act on our mission statement stronger than we have before. We have a seven-year vision we are working on. We plan to impart the hope of the gospel to 700,000 people–a goal of 100,000 people each year—here, near, and far, and create a clear spiritual pathway for people to grow.”

Marcia is also deeply involved in the church. She invests in Wooddale’s children ministry writing curriculum, teaching lessons, and planning activities for the Wednesday night program.

“I try to help people think about the future”, says Marcia. “We can’t just think about what we like and are comfortable with. We need to make sure that our church is a place where our children and grandchildren want to attend. We must be willing to change and grow.”

Marcia enjoys seeing the growth and change in atmosphere as they have completely remodeled their children’s ministry wing. Now, the “Treehouse” at Wooddale contains many large classrooms for learning, a fort for playing, and a center for worship and games.

Reaching the world for Christ

The Hummels plan to continue their work at Wooddale and help create disciples…that make disciples…that make more disciples. Under their leadership, Wooddale continues to plant and rejuvenate several multi-sites in Minneapolis, like their Loring Park campus. Through their global partners, the church has reached over 300,000 people so far with the Gospel of Christ.

Throughout their years of ministry, the couple began in a small, rural church of 90 people and transitioned to a church of 4,000. Dale explains that for him and his family, it has never been about numbers, but reaching people for Christ and seeing them grow in their faith.

The Hummels explain when God requires an incredible amount of faith, sometimes–you just have to jump.

“You look back at your life and wonder what are the pivotal points when God did something remarkable?” says Dale. “God did a lot in a short amount of time at Crown College. We’ve had to practice our faith moving from Illinois to Minnesota. We both had to learn to trust  the Lord in that process. Sometimes, you have to wait on God. He will do great things.”