Meet Our Staff

Rev. Debra Trakel

Interim Pastor
E-mail Rev. Debra Trakel

Rev. Debra Trakel, LCSW, M.Div
Interim Pastor
(H) 262-255-9266
(C) 414-339-9266

Pastor Debra has been ordained twenty-three years as an Episcopal priest. She went to seminary in Evanston, Illinois at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (part of the same consortium as the Lutheran School of Theology).

As a Pastor, she has served in campus ministry (at UW-Madison), and on the staff of the former Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee as his Assistant for Pastoral Care, working with troubled clergy and parishes. As a Pastor, she served a church in Wisconsin Dells that shared the church building with a United Methodist congregation. She then served a church in the central city of Milwaukee that provided food and care to 300 homeless individuals a day. And she has also served a church as Pastor in River Hills. Most recently, she has been the Bridge Pastor at Church of the Resurrection (ELCA) in Pewaukee.

The ELCA and the Episcopal Church have a covenant, “Called to Common Mission” which allows their clergy to be Pastors in one another’s churches.

Beyond serving as Pastor, Pastor Debra is certified as a mediator in Wisconsin, and licensed in Wisconsin and Illinois to practice psychotherapy. She is also certified as an Interim Specialist and, in addition, has completed two years of training with the Congregational Development Institute.

Before ordination Pastor Debra went to Mount Mary College for her undergraduate degree in social work, and then to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for her M.S.W. She then worked as a clinical social worker and an organizational development specialist in: medical/geriatric social work, correctional social work, and industrial social work (eg. Employee Assistance Programs). In state government, she worked for the Departments of Corrections, Natural Resources, and Transportation. She did specialized training to become a quality improvement specialist and, in that capacity, worked at the Wisconsin Lottery right up to two days before she went to seminary.

Pastor Debra is married. She lives in Menomonee Falls. Her wife, Carlynn, is a pediatric occupational therapist currently working in the West Bend School District. They are both movie buffs and extensive readers. They have two wonderful sons and three grandchildren. And they live with a horribly spoiled rescue dog named Kirk.

Sandy Knuth

Organist/Handbell Choir

Sandy has been Advent’s organist for an astonishing 51 years and she also directs the handbell choir. Sandy is supported by husband John, who helps tune the organ periodically. Sandy said that when she started in 1962 as the organist, she would continue as long as it was enjoyable. She says that she still loves it, and can’t wait until each Sunday arrives.

Cheri Hesse

Office Secretary

Cheri has been church secretary since November 2008. She and her husband Phil joined Advent in 2001, right after 9/11. They have two children Sarah and Daniel. Cheri has been on council serving; Finance, Family Ministry and as secretary. She has also enjoyed being a member of the Evening Circle Women and is a board member of Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge, Inc.  You can contact her at cheri@adventchurch.org. or call the office Monday through Friday from 8AM to 1PM.

Maxine Effenheim

Treasurer

Maxine and husband Don have lived in Cedarburg since they were married in 1970 and have been members of Advent since 1975. They have two children – Cheryl and Daniel. Maxine and Don are currently both retired and busy with family, grandchildren, great grandchildren, hobbies and reading. Maxine is a member of the Syzygy Group and has work on various projects around the church.

Jackie Vandenberg

Senior Choir Director

Jackie Vandenberg is the director of our senior choir at Advent for the last 10 years. She is a retired elementary music educator who holds a bachelor’s degree in organ and voice from UW-Stevens Point, and a master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s University Minnesota. “Working with Advent’s musicians is a blessing and a privilege!” Advent’s Senior Choir rehearses on Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm and sings at 3 services each month.

Cindy Westgor

Pastor's Assistant

Cindy and her husband John joined Advent in 1976 and have 2 daughters, Heather and Andrea.  Cindy has been active in many rolls, joining council as “Secretary” and “Worship and Music”, has sung in Choir since 1986,  taught Sunday School for 11 years and was President of Evening Cricle from 1994-2002.  She currently subs and has volunteered as office secretary since 1991, belongs to the Syzygy Group and is on the Columbarium/Prayer Garden Committee.

Sarah Slavin

Youth Director

Sarah is a “life-r” at Advent, having been baptized, confirmed, and married in the church.  She has always had a passion for working with young people, and teens in particular. She served as an Advent Sunday School teacher for many years before welcoming the opportunity to guide middle and high school students as they transition into life as young adults.  Sarah works with the youth to explore faith, values and relationships with a Christian compass- putting Jesus’ teachings into action in our everyday lives.  “Faith on the go” is encouraged through service projects and outreach activities.  Her hope is to nurture an atmosphere of openness and trust while navigating the joys and challenges faced by teens today.  Sarah is a member of the Advent Haiti mission team, and feels blessed to work with the children at MABO Orphanage.  In her free time, she loves to travel, cook, and enjoy nature with her husband Eric and her two daughters.

Lisa Wegner

Prior to becoming the Sunday School Director in 2003, Lisa spent 18 years in youth ministry and two as a stay at home mom. She enjoys helping children build a faith foundation through learning, worship, and outreach, and believes all children should feel welcome at Advent.  Her career in ministry has taught her many new things and helped her own faith to continue to grow.  Lisa and her husband Matt have two children, Nathan and Rachel.