Staff & Congregational Council
Team Member Name
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Staff & Congregational Council
Jen Rome has 17 years of experience in bringing people of all generations to deeply experience and creatively connect with God, the world, and each other. She studied English at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, attended Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, and received her Masters of Divinity Princeton Theological Seminary in 2000. She previously served as Pastor for Children, Youth, and Family with Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan, Minnesota for nearly 17 years. Nationally and locally, she presents and leads workshops on cross-generational, multi-sensory, interactive faith formation for church professionals and lay leaders. She and her husband, Zach, along with their two daughters, live inter-generationally with Zach’s parents in a duplex in the St. Paul. Their family shares the love of geeking out about things that express our passions and bring joy. Jen entertains herself by walking instead of driving as much as she can, making things beautiful, and reading children’s and adolescent literature.
Cathy joined the Pilgrim staff as Church Administrator in October 2010. As of January 2017, she holds the position of Business Manager. She was born in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Business Administration. She has had 20 years experience as an administrator in business, and is a lay leader in her congregation, serving in numerous roles at Richfield Lutheran Church. Cathy also enjoys volunteering at a neighborhood elder care facility. In her free time, she enjoys working on home projects and spending time at the family cabin her father built.
Denika Anderson joined the Pilgrim staff in March 2019 as a Communications Specialist. She grew up in an ELCA church and, after completing her B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, she attended Luther Seminary, and ultimately transferred to United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities to complete her M.A. in Women’s Studies in Religion. Denika has always had a passion for church work, and enjoys putting her skills to use at Pilgrim. In addition to her work at Pilgrim, Denika is also a birth and perinatal loss doula, and advocates for birthing families through the Childbirth Collective. She has three young children, Lola, Ellie, and Rory, with her spouse, Ned. As a family, they enjoy reading, playing board games, and working with their hands on just about any project.
Dick Hensold is the leading Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, and for the past 20 years has performed and taught in England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. For these services he will plays Northumbrian small-pipes, reel pipes, recorder, seljefløyte, and low whistle. Based in St Paul, MN, he is a full-time musician, presenting the traditional music of Scotland, Cape Breton Island, and Northumberland, as well as Nordic folk music, and early music. His solo Northumbrian smallpipes CD Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes was released in 2007. He has been composer-in-residence at Pilgrim Lutheran Church since 2002, and was awarded the Bush Artist Fellowship in 2007
Soprano Choral Scholar
Carey Shunskis is a choral conductor and soprano originally from Philadelphia with extensive experience in children’s chorus directing and is the current Music Director of ComMUSICation. Carey earned a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from Boston University and Bachelors degrees in Music Education and Voice Performance from the University of Rhode Island.
ComMUSICation is a music youth development non-profit and offers choral, ukulele, piano, and drumming programs for youth K-12 and youth leadership positions for high schoolers. Carey sings with the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and MPLS (imPulse). Some of Carey's favorite teaching and performing highlights include Lead Teacher with the Vienna Boys Choir 2017 Summer Music Academy in Hong Kong, Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, and her work as a conference clinician, adjudicator and speaker.
Russ Myers is an ELCA pastor who has served as chaplain at Allina Health for 29 years. He was chaplain at United Hospital for many years and more recently at Allina EMS, where he supports the paramedics, EMTs and dispatchers. Previous to chaplaincy he and his wife, Mary, served as co-pastors at two rural congregations in southern Wisconsin. He has two daughters; one lives in Duluth and one lives with her family in Andover. This summer, Russ and Mary and their grandson Daniel enjoyed a week on Madeline Island and a family camp program at Wilderness Canoe Base.
Music & Chancel Choir Director, Organist
Paul Stever comes from Scottsdale, Arizona, where he began piano study with his grandmother at the age of eight. As a junior in high school, he received a scholarship for organ study from the Central Arizona chapter of the American Guild of Organists. These intensive studies, combined with a love of church music and choral music, led him to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he completed BM degrees in Church Music-Organ and Vocal Music Education. He studied organ at St. Olaf with Catherine Rodland and John Ferguson. Since then, Paul has received an MM in Choral Music Education from Arizona State University, a Choir Master (ChM) certificate from the American Guild of Organists, and an MM degree in Organ Performance, with a Certificate in Liturgical Studies, from Colorado State University. He has been the Music Director, Chancel Choir Director, and Organist for Pilgrim Lutheran Church since July 2012. He also enjoys cooking, yoga, and playing with his daughter Emily.
Chuck works part time as the Pilgrim custodian. He was born, raised and educated in the Twin Cities area. As he grew up, he attended Como Park Grade School, Murray High School, U of M, Northwestern TV & Electronics Inst. and was confirmed at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church on Lexington Pkwy, south of Como Park. Started his working career at the old Northwestern Bell Telephone Company (in the Tioga oilfields). From there, he went to the old Honeywell for nine years, working exclusively on the Apollo Project. His career led him to the 3M Company where he worked for thirty-three years. He worked as a Quality Engineer and the last fifteen of those years as a Metrologist. He loves the outdoors, especially the summer when he can get his custom-built fishing boat into the water. Hobbies include photography and taking care of his house and yard. He loves cars and drives two hybrid autos. He also volunteers at Pilgrim at various activities and is a member of the Properties Committee.
Director of Jubilee & Cherub Choirs
Anna Stolte is from North Saint Paul, and has degrees in music and Spanish from University of Wisconsin River Falls. She has spent the past few years as a Spanish Immersion Kindergarten teacher and music educator. When she's not teaching, you'll find her singing in various churches around the Twin Cities, rock climbing, or searching for the best tacos al pastor in Minnesota.
Director of Faith Formation
Hello, Pilgrims! My name is Micki (Wright) Nyland, and I am excited and delighted to be returning to Pilgrim! I previously served Pilgrim Lutheran Church as the Coordinator of Children’s and Youth Ministries for four years. I live in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul with my husband, Adam, and my kids Wes (6) and Dot (5). I love reading, taking my kids on adventures, watching television with my husband, camping with my family, and pretending to fold laundry while watching people on YouTube fold their laundry. I am looking forward to reconnecting with the families that I worked with before, meeting the families that have become part of this community in the last five years, and working with Pastor Jen.
Alex is passionate about climate justice and enjoys any activity outdoors. He is a cross country runner and also loves to camp, hike, bike, and ski. Everyday environmental resilience is meaningful for him as well and he strives to live an increasingly plastic-free lifestyle. Alex also loves creativity and art and enjoys writing, reading, drawing, painting, practicing his euphonium and video editing.
Greetings, Pilgrim family! My name is Lisa Wexler Como and I am excited to begin my work as the office coordinator here at Pilgrim. I spent five years living in Haiti and Honduras with my husband, Jason, and our three children, Solomon (19), Joshua (17), and Ana (15), before moving back to Minnesota last August so that I could begin work on my Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary. Between parenting, school and now work, I don’t have a lot of free time these days, but I do still enjoy time with friends and family and walks around Como Lake near our home in the Como Park neighborhood. I look forward to meeting all of you as I settle into my new role here at Pilgrim!
Mike works part time as one of Pilgrim’s custodians. He was born, raised, and educated in the St. Paul. He attended Groveland Elementary School, Ramsey Jr. High and Highland High School, DeVry Institute of Technology Chicago, and St. Paul TVI. Started his working career at Davis Electronics a mom-and-pop electronics shop for five years. Was a shop manager and Senior Computer Tech for Tandy Radio Shack and Computer City for nineteen years. Recently retired from St. Paul Public Schools after twenty-two years as a Field Service Tech. Mike loves the outdoors, hiking and camping. Hobbies include long walks, woodworking, carving, gardening. Mike has been a lifelong member of Pilgrim and has held many leadership and volunteer positions.
Tenor Choral Scholar
Sam Fouts is an educator, singer, and choral musician from Eagan. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Concordia College in Moorhead and went on to earn master’s degrees with distinction from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. Sam has been fortunate to sing with and lead such ensembles as The Concordia Choir, The Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, King’s Voices of King’s College, Cambridge, and VocalEssence. Sam has been active as a church musician and pedagogue in the Twin Cities, previously holding positions at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan and the University of St. Thomas. As a soloist, Sam specializes in Scandinavian art song. He is the High School Program Coordinator for Reaching Up Homework Help, an after-school homework help program based at Easter Lutheran Church.
CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL (VESTRY)
President/ Executive Team
Recording Secretary/ Executive Team
I live a block away from Pilgrim, and was drawn to this community through the Celtic and Nordic contemplative services, the intriguing sermon titles on the church marquee, and the smiling faces coming out of church Sunday morning. In attendance with me are my wife Carrie Burke and, occasionally, grown sons Henry and Charlie. Now retired, I spent half a career as a college teacher, and a second half as an auditor and program evaluator. Since joining the church in 2017, I have grown to love this community and my fellow Pilgrims, as we show each other in myriad and diverse ways what it means to live a life of faith.
I found my way to Pilgrim by way of the evening community several years ago when a music group I’m part of, the American Swedish Institute Cloudberries Women’s Chorus, was invited to sing at one of Pilgrim’s Nordic evening services. I immediately fell in love with the quiet, contemplative service rooted in Lutheran theology and Nordic traditions I love so much. In 2017, I joined the Chancel Choir and became a member of Pilgrim. Since then, I have continued to sing with the choir and I have served on the Gratitude and Generosity stewardship team on and off. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve on the vestry and become even more enriched by this community I love.
Vice President/ Executive Team
Past President/ Executive Team
I have been attending Pilgrim with my family since 2012. My wife Britt and our three children live in the neighborhood and are as active as we can be with kids & family programming on Sundays and during the week - and there is always more we wish there was time for. Pilgrim, in its wealth of opportunities through shared ministry, has brought us into relationship with wonderful people and has been central to our growth in faith and life. I have been part of the church council in the past, various bible study programs and educational forums, worship music, and various ministries outside the walls of the church. In my free time I enjoy outdoor sports (mostly as coach/supporter with the kids these days) and getting in over my head with house projects.
My family and I began attending Pilgrim in 2014. My wife Jaimee, two kids and I love how welcoming the community is and being involved in Pilgrim’s shared ministry. Pilgrim has become a wonderful home for us. Since joining Pilgrim, I have enjoyed being involved with the finance team, Sunday School and helping on project days. This is my third year serving on the Vestry in the role of Treasurer.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family at the lake and watching my kids in their various activities. I also have fun biking, reading about history and following hockey and soccer.
My wife and I started attending Pilgrim around 2014 when we were expecting our second child. We were looking for a church that was theologically progressive, focused on social justice, followed a traditional liturgical style of worship, and where the kids of a two-mom family would feel safe and supported. Pilgrim checked all of those boxes, which had us coming back week after week. My educational background is in chemical engineering, and I have worked my entire career in the environmental protection/regulatory field. I spend my free time volunteering with my daughters’ Girl Scout troops, growing my yarn stash (and maybe knitting a project or two along the way), and spending time “up north” in Minnesota and Wisconsin with my family. At Pilgrim, you will find me wrangling my two kids in and out of the church service and Sunday school, attending the Celtic and Nordic evening worship services, and participating on the Worship, Music and Evangelism committee.
COMMITTEES & SHARED MINISTRY INTEREST GROUPS
Missions & Social Concerns
The Missions and Social Concerns ministry of Pilgrim is comprised of several subgroups, who work to forward Pilgrim's mission of compassion and care: for those near us and far, for peace in the world, for care for the earth, and for justice and equality for all.
Chair: Beth Nelson
Vestry Liaison: Tim Moore
The Properties Committee is named as a standing shared ministry team in the Pilgrim constitution and serves to advise the staff and congregation on matters related to the physical structure and material property of the church. The committee's broad influence includes matters of capital improvement, building repair and maintenance, decoration, and direction of memorial gifts.
Children, Youth, & Families
Vestry Liaison: Matthew Anderson
Chair: Marlys Aukee
Vestry Liaison: Tim Moore
The Pilgrim People Committee (PPC) is established to ensure that Pilgrim Lutheran Church is adequately staffed with committed, qualified, professional individuals to further its mission of being a Home for Hungry Minds and Souls. Its overarching purpose is to:
-Advocate for Lead Pastor, Staff Members and from time to time Lay Leaders working in close
association with them, attending to their perennial evolving needs
-Support Lead Pastor and other Supervisors in carrying out a broad range of human resource
duties and responsibilities as delineated below
-Motivate continually improving the staff's capacity to carry out its functions and relationships
Worship, Music, & Evangelism
Vestry Liaison: Sandy Johnson
The Worship, Music and Evangelism Committee is committed to supporting meaningful worship
experiences and robust music ministries, and to fostering an environment of welcome to all.
Congregational Life & Care
Chair: Barbara McCauley
The main function of the Congregational Life and Care Committee is to provide opportunities for
intergenerational community building in our congregation, usually centered around food! Because of
the generosity of so many, CLC serves as an umbrella for a variety of special events and activities.