Engel, 46, and his family come here from Evansville, Ind., where he was minister of the 100-member Oak Hill Church of Christ for the past eight years. However, he and his wife, Allison, are native Texans as he was born in San Antonio and she is a Houston native.
Engel, who noted his last name is German for "angel," succeeds Jeremy Vass as the Gilmer congregation's minister..
Engel lived in San Antonio until age 13 before moving to Denton, where he graduated high school. While he was attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, where he received a bachelor's degree in business management in 1990, a baseball coach there converted him to the Church of Christ.
While at SFA, Engel heard a missionary to Africa speak at the North Side Church of Christ in Nacogdoches and decided to go to that continent. In 1990, he began doing mission work in East Africa, mainly in Tanzania, for several months, which he said fueled his desire to preach.
After his mission work, he was a U.S. Army reservist for a time before taking some Bible classes at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. He became an intern youth minister at the West Side Church of Christ in Texarkana, Tex., where he was youth minister from 1993-96, and he married in 1995.
Engel's wife grew up in Houston and Rockdale, where she graduated high school. Engel said he first met Allison, who is nine years his junior, when he was part of an SFA group that went to Rockdale to work with a youth group that included her.
Some 4-5 years later, he said, she was a student at SFA, where he was invited to speak at a youth rally. She recognized his name, came to help with the event, and "we got reacquainted," he said.
From 1996-2003, Engel was associate minister of the 150-member Bertram Church of Christ in a tiny Texas town of less than 90 population at the time. From 2003-2005, he attended Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, graduating there before going to Indiana, and is pursing a master's degree in Biblical studies from that school.
He said he learned of the job opening here from his mentor at Sunset, Charles Speer, the school's dean of residential studies. Mrs. Engel had told Speer's wife she wanted to return to Texas to be closer to her relatives, who live in Cat Spring, west of Houston.
Of Gilmer, Engel said, "I like it. It's a nice town. . .busy place for a small town." He also noted his wife loves smaller towns.
The Engels have four children: one daughter, Abigail, 14; and Seth, 12; Luke, 8; and Andrew, 5.
The minister is no stranger to large families, being a twin who is among seven children, counting an adopted sister. He said he was only eight when his father died and 21 when his mother died.
As for his hobbies, he said "I'm a big sports fan" who plays golf and has helped coach baseball and basketball. But his main pastime is spending time with his family, he said.