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Our Staff

Pastor Gary has been the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church since fall 2007. Previously, he served parishes in Wisconsin and spent six years on the staff on the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin (ELCA). His key interests are in preaching, teaching, pastoral care and helping people make connections between the Good News of Jesus and their own lives. Pastor Gary and his wife, Linda, have a son, Tony, who is married to Karrie and is the father to their granddaughter Harper, and a daughter, Andrea, who is married to Stephen and is mom to their grandsons, Owen and Elijah. He loves to canoe, camp, read science fiction, and go cycling. When the family gets together, "we end up playing Euchre and laughing."

Robin has been on staff since 2000. She has an education degree from the University of Northern of Iowa. She brings that knowledge and skill set to her position. She offers great experience, leadership and vision to Bethlehem’s mission, “Sharing the Bread of Life with a Hungry World,” in Youth and Family Ministries. Robin has a passion for faith forming ministry with children, youth, adults and families. Robin and her husband, Dave, have two children, Zachary and Shelby. Music fills their hearts and souls through singing and playing piano. Robin and her family have traveled for mission work to Africa and Guatemala. They also enjoy supporting UNI (Go Panthers!) and family time.

Rachel has been our office manager since January 2017. She brings considerable experience to the position, having previously managed church and business offices and served as a resident services coordinator. Rachel loves working with all people but has a special relationship with older adults, continuing to work occasionally at NewAldaya Lifescapes in their memory care unit. She has a degree in gerontology and is a volunteer with Cedar Valley Hospice. Rachel has three children: Logan who is 17, Layne age 9, and Layla who is 6. She loves to be with family (especially outdoors), cook, garden, read, and watch movies.

Heather has been the Ministry Coordinator since fall 2003. She has a degree in social work from the University of Northern Iowa. Heather enjoys working with the members of the congregation through many different activities in the church and the community. Heather and her husband, Jason, have two sons, Camden and Cael, and a daughter, Larissa. Heather enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, traveling and reading.

Sue has been a minister of music in churches for the past 30 years. She has a degree in elementary education, with a concentration of courses in school and church music. She seeks out stimulating music that is fun to play and enjoyable to the listener. Her challenging goal is to seek out young musicians who would continue the study in pipe organ so that the church is well served into the future. Sue is married to Dennis, an ELCA pastor who is serving as a spiritual life director at Bremwood in Waverly. They have five grown children, Ben (Christy), John (Eryn), Joe (Erika), Jacob (Marisa) and Liz, seven grandchildren. Sue enjoys spending time at their cabin at Rock Creek State Park, which is near Grinnell. Life there is restful, watching birds, reading books, doing needlework and kayaking or pontoon boating.

Sue has been a member of Bethlehem since the early 1980s. She spent 34 years teaching junior high students in Cedar Falls and now serves as professional development coordinator for the same building in which she taught. She enjoys volunteering with the junior and senior high youth at Bethlehem. Sue has been the contemporary worship director at Bethlehem since the contemporary service started in September 1999. She also accompanies the Celestial and Chancel choirs. Sue and her husband, Fred, have two adult children, Scott, married to Julie, and Nicholas, married to Sarah. She enjoys her granddaughter, Anna, grandsons, Cade & Charlie, supporting UNI athletics, volunteering for Cedar Falls Community Theater, traveling to warm climates, gardening, cooking and getting together with friends.

Ruth has been a member of Bethlehem since 1989, when she came to direct the Chancel and Cherub choirs. Having received a degree in music education from Wartburg College, Ruth has taught elementary and junior high music for 29 years. Choosing music for worship services and working with young and not so young musicians are among the joys of her ministry. Ruth and her husband, Steve, have three children, Erik (Allison), Krista (Adam) and Kara, and four grandchildren, Anna, Isaac, Evan and Martin. Ruth enjoys spending time with family.

Karen has been a member of Bethlehem almost her entire life. She has directed the Celestial Choir since 2000 and thoroughly enjoys working with these enthusiastic upper-elementary youth. She relishes the opportunity to be involved in their growth in leadership in the church. Karen has a degree in financial management from the University of Northern Iowa and works for Black Hawk County Social Services, where she is the mental health and disability services funding coordinator for an 18-county region. Karen and her husband, Eric, have two children, Mitchell and Kayla. They spend much of their free time watching their kids in their sports. Karen also is the chairperson for Bethlehem's Youth & Family Ministry Council.

Patty Nelson


Anna Blanford

Nursery Attendant

Rita Tewolde

Nursery Attendant

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