As Immanuel's pastor since 2017, I serve to support the people of God, leading worship and study, preaching weekly, providing pastoral care and guiding the big-picture work of living out the Gospel.
The time I get to spend with people is most important to me. Whether it's celebrating joys, mourning losses or growing together in faith and wisdom, I'm grateful to be in fellowship with the people of this community.
Before being called to Immanuel, I was pastor at West Ida Immanuel Lutheran Church, Ida, Mich. I hold a BA in Theology from Valparaiso University and an MDiv from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. I was ordained in March 2014.
My wife Megan and I have one daughter, Freya, and three cats, Joelle, Avril and Manon. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing video games and table-top RPGs, following pro hockey (especially the Colorado Avalanche) and major league baseball (particularly the New York Yankees), and brewing beer.
816-931-8483, ext. 11
Since 2017, I've collaborated with Immanuel's pastor to plan music for worship services, including hymns and special music. I also direct the chancel choir and bell choir, and arrange for instrumentalists to add to the worship experience. Pre-pandemic, I planned Immanuel's Bach Cantata Vespers series ... and will again.
It is important to me that music supports and enhances the word of God within the worship service. We strive to offer our best to God as we seek to create a space in which all musical offerings are valued.
I also currently teach privately at the Lydia Lovan Community School of Music at William Jewell College. Before moving to Kansas City, I worked as a professional singer on both the East and West Coasts. I also worked as associate conductor of the Marin Girls Chorus, Marin County, Calif.; director of music for children, youth and handbells at Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, Calif.; and director of children's and handbell choirs at Corpus Christi Church, Chatham, N.J.
I hold a bachelor of music in Music Education, Piano Principal, from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J., and a Master of Music and Performance Diploma in Historical Performance, Vocal emphasis, from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.
My husband and I have a cat and a dog. In my spare time, I like to travel, run, read books about political theory and history, and walk the dog.
As Immanuel's organist since 2018, I work with the music director to plan selections for Sunday worship and other services. I play the organ (and sometimes the piano) during those services. Enhancing the experience of the worshipping community is my paramount goal.
Before joining Immanuel, I was organist at St. Luke' Episcopal Church, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
I hold a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a Master of Music in Church Music (Organ) from the University of Kansas.
My wife Sara and I live in Lawrence, Kan., and my parents and brother live in St. Cloud, Minn. In my spare time, I enjoy Egyptology, aviation, studying languages, alleged paranormal and cryptozoological phenomena, and playing various card and board board games, like spades and chess.
Beginning in August 2022, I've collaborated with the pastor, music director and organist to create worship bulletins and parish announcements, and to prepare for the live stream and recording of services on Immanuel's YouTube channel. I also write and publish weekly email announcements and the monthly Parish News publication; regularly update Immanuel's website, social media and online calendar; and, with Immanuel's building superintendent, work with community groups and individuals who use space in Immanuel's building.
816-931-8483, ext. 10
Beginning in 2022, I assumed responsibility for cleaning Immanuel's building, and setting up for church and community events.
I'm a Kansas City native who grew up in the 18th and Vine district and, while my parents and sister now live in Liberty and Parkville, I still love living in the central city with my significant other, Rachel.
I earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Lincoln University and previously coordinated the alternative suspension program for the Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools (KCPS). I then joined corporate America as a general manager for Jiffy Lube.
Several years ago, kidney failure, dialysis and an eventual kidney transplant led me to seek employment that offered more flexibility. So I joined the KCPS custodial team, a position I still hold today.
My work at Immanuel parallels work in which I already had experience, and I am happy to serve in a faith-based environment that is so friendly. Immanuel is a welcoming place.
Many willing volunteers serve as assisting ministers, choir members, musicians, teachers, ushers, greeters, fellowship hosts, committee members and more.
Chief among those volunteers are the members of the congregation council, which is the elected body that represents the congregation and conducts its business. Congregation council members are:
Connie Benolkin, president
Bonnie Thomas, vice president
Melodee Blobaum, secretary
Kathy Linder, treasurer
Linda Fox, financial secretary
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