Greg Aune has been the conductor of The Gustavus Choir for 21 years at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN where he holds the Jon and Anita Thomsen Young Distinguished Endowed Chair in Music. He also has extensive experience directing church choirs. Greg holds degrees from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and the University of Iowa.
Julie Aune is currently the Artistic Director of the Lucia Choirs at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. She has devoted forty years to music education in Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota. Her experiences include teaching elementary classroom music, directing choirs in grades 4-12, serving as artistic director of the Mankato Children’s Chorus, teaching college music methods courses, and directing a college women’s choir. She has also taught private piano and voice lessons and directed church choirs. She holds degrees from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and the University of St. Thomas.
Jay Beech has long been recognized for his creative blending of musical energy and theological substance, and his ability to lift up ancient traditions within a modern context. His published works include hymns, liturgies, camp songs, musicals, and anthems which are sung each week in congregations throughout the United States. Jay is also the owner of BaytoneMusic.com, an online company that provides downloadable music resources for worship. He served on the music staff at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, MN for sixteen years and is a graduate of St. Olaf College. He is the Director of The Center for Worship and Music Studies.
Nate Bergengren is an experienced worship leader and an accomplished guitar player and vocalist. He understands his work as helping communities find their song, and he senses the God-message in all kinds of art. In particular, he has seen the power that pop music has for those who struggle to understand the relevance of church. Having served in a variety of contexts with many different musicians and leaders, Nate has gained a broad perspective of the wide scope of modern expressions of worship. He has a B.A in religion from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, has worked in youth ministry, and is currently Director of Modern Worship Arts & Media at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Brooklyn Park, MN.
Martial Besombes is the Director of Worship & Music at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, a vibrant, multi-racial congregation in south Minneapolis. He is one of those gifted musical chameleons who can move effortlessly from hymns to jazz to country to hip-hop to Gospel without missing a beat. A native of France, Martial received classical piano and orchestration training at the Paris Conservatoire. He brings a deep love of the music of the church, and genuine passion for teaching church musicians.
Dr. Ibrahim Bitrus was born and raised in northeast Nigeria. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Theology degrees from the Theological College of Northern Nigeria, and a Ph.D. from Luther Seminary. Ibrahim was a lecturer at the Bronnum Lutheran Seminary in Yola, Nigeria, and is currently serving as Companion Synod Theologian in Residence for the Minneapolis Area Synod. He is the author of several articles, including “The Theology of the Cross: A Stumbling Block to the Neo-Pentecostal Gospel.”.
Alan Bray worked for seven years as an English teacher before completing seminary studies at Luther-Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He has been a parish pastor for 32 years, serving congregations in Minnesota and in the former West Germany). Alan currently is Senior Pastor of First Lutheran Church in St. Peter, MN. He has been both solo and co-pastor at First Lutheran Church since 2000.
Susan Palo Cherwien is a freelance writer and musician. She holds degrees in church music, voice and liberal studies focused on spirituality, ritual, and the arts. Susan has written numerous hymn texts which appear in denominational hymnals (including the ELW) in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and her collect hymn texts and meditations have been published by Augsburg Fortress and Morningstar.
Kelly Chatman serves as pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, a vibrant, diverse, multi-generational ELCA congregation in North Minneapolis, and is director of the Redeemer Center for Life. He is also Advisor to the Bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod ELCA, and previously served as their interim Director for Evangelical Mission. Kelly served five years as Director for Youth Ministries for the ELCA, and has served congregations in Washington, DC and Portland, OR.
Richard Bruxvoort Colligan desires adventurous and imaginative music for the church. As a full-time composer and musician, he serves across denominations teaching about music and spiritual formation. Known for hymn forms, simple chant and pop-rock arrangements, he has several albums of original worship music. Richard is currently immersed in a long-term study of the Psalms. He is the owner of Worldmaking.net, and his songs have been published by the ELCA, UMC, UCC and PCUSA.
Elizabeth Damico is a gifted preacher and musician who serves as Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Afton, MN. She comes to the Twin Cities after serving as Pastor at Holden Village in Washington state. Elizabeth is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and of Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
Mary Kay DuChene is committed to developing excellence in the church setting. Her passion of helping people identify and embrace their authentic leadership gifts and helping churches find their vocation, in combination with her experience in business leadership and coaching, enables her to help pastors, lay leaders, teams – and churches – lead long and well. Mary Kay works as Assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern MN Synod, ELCA, in the areas of Family Ministry, Faith Formation, and Leadership.
Robert Buckley Farlee is an ELCA pastor and musician who is passionate about congregational singing. He has been Cantor and organist at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis for over thirty years. Bob is also a composer and arranger of choral music and hymns, many of which appear in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Institute for Liturgical Studies, and is Senior Editor for Worship and Music at Augsburg Fortress Publishers.
Nate Houge grew up in Liberia as a son of missionary parents, and studied at Concordia College (now University) in St. Paul, MN. He and a friend own and operate Brake Bread, a bakery in St. Paul that offers delivery via bicycle.
Marty Haugen is a liturgical composer, workshop presenter, performing and recording artist & author from Eagan, Minnesota. For the past 30 years, Marty has presented workshops and concerts across North and Central America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim. He has over 40 recordings and more than 400 separate printed editions available through GIA Publications.A number of his published songs, including “Shepherd Me, O God,” “Gather Us In” and “All Are Welcome” are well-known to many religious denominations. Mass of Creation, and several liturgical settings for Lutheran congregations, including Holden Evening Prayer, Unfailing Light (with Pastor Susan Briehl) and Now the Feast and Celebration, as well as a communion setting for the new Evangelical Worship Book (ELW-Augsburg Fortress).
Ralph Johnson is a thoughtful and dedicated church musician who currently serves as Director of Worship & Music at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN. He is also a gifted choral composer whose works have been commissioned for and performed by many distinguished groups including the St. Olaf Choir. He holds degrees in composition from St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota.
Mavis Kallestad is a Finale clinician/trainer, music engraver and piano accompanist in the Minneapolis area. She has represented MakeMusic, the manufacturer of the Finale software, at many state music conventions and has taught hands-on Finale workshops to countless musicians and music educators. Her textbook, Building Successful Finale ‘Chops’, (now in its 3rd edition) contains practical step-by-step tutorials to learn how to use Finale to create musical scores and teaching materials. Mavis holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Dickinson State University and is an adjunct faculty member at Hamline University, St. Paul, MN.
Ken Medema has shared his passion for learning and discovery through storytelling and music around the world for more than forty years. Though blind from birth, he sees and hears with heart and mind, singing stories from his audience and accenting themes and perspectives from speakers and workshop leaders. Ken’s well-known song, “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying,” gives insight into the deep concern he feels for the spiritual well-being of God’s people, and for church musicians in particular.
Susan Miller is an ELCA pastor whose many specialties include congregational health, conflict management, and spiritual direction. She has served as a parish pastor and on the staff of three ELCA synods, New Jersey, St. Paul Area, and currently is Assistant to the Bishop of Southeastern MN. Susan has conducted boundaries training for numerous congregations, synods, and other organizations. She holds degrees from Fordham University and Yale University Divinity School.
Scott Munson is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott engineers and produces commercial, film, and independent music out of his own Blacktop Studio. He is a member of the indie rock outfit The Small Cities, helps make soul music as part of Gospel Machine, and plays shows under his own name as well. Scott serves as Liturgical Coordinator for Mercy Seat.
Susan Nienaber writes, lectures, and leads training workshops and retreats for clergy and laity on subjects including managing conflict and change, professional ethics and boundaries, and strengthening leadership. She worked with hundreds of congregations over a ten-year span as a senior consultant with the Alban Institute. Susan is an ordained Elder and District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church, and holds degrees from Central College in Pella, IA, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.
Donna Peña brings both incredible compositional gifts and a wealth of parish experience. Drawing upon her Mexican-American and Cherokee heritage, she was one of the first composers creating bilingual music for GIA back in the late 1980s. Donna’s song, “Digo Sí, Señor/I Say “Yes, Lord”” is sung in churches throughout the United States and beyond. She grew up in St. Paul, MN, and served for many years as music director at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church there.
Mary Preus is a singer, teacher, worship leader, and choir director with a deep passion for congregational singing. As a member of the group, Bread for the Journey, she was widely known for lifting up church music from cultures around the world. Mary is a guest lecturer for worship classes at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, was a co-creator of the Living Liturgy project. She served as a member of the Hymnody Editorial Team for the ELCA’s Renewing Worship project. Mary has been music director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN for 21 years, coordinates worship for the ecumenical Community of St. Martin, and is artistic director for Minnesota Community Sings.
Debra Samuelson is the senior pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN. She previously served as pastor for Evangelism and Outreach at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, GA. For several years, Debra was a frequent panelist on the Day1 TV segments produced for the Hallmark Channel. Her degrees include a B.A .from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, an M.Div from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, and a D.Min from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.
Christian Scharen has expertise in numerous specialties including practical theology, worship and popular culture, and is the author of many books and articles. He worked as Assistant Professor or Worship and Theology and Director of Contextual Education at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Prior to that he was Director of the Faith as a Way of Life Program at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and Assistant Professor of Congregational Studies and Practical Theology (Adjunct) at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT. He holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley, CA, and Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Chris is currently Vice President of Applied Research and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary of New York.
In Ann Schrooten‘s opinion, there is no greater joy and honor to be found than working with children’s voices! A member of the artistic team with Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs in Bloomington, MN, she conducts the Cantabile Choir (grades 4-6). Also a clinician and guest conductor, Ann has been a leader in numerous choral music organizations, and is currently the President of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Chorister’s Guild. She directs the children’s and youth choir program at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN, where she is also the Coordinator of Children, Youth and Family Ministry. Ann holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota.
Ann Svennungsen serves as bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA. She has previously served as president of Texas Lutheran University and as president of The Fund for Theological Education. Ann also founded and serves as director of The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty—an initiative inviting university presidents to pledge five percent of their annual income to combat global poverty. She was a Resident Scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John’s University. As a parish pastor Ann served congregations in Iowa and Minnesota, and as interim college pastor at St. Olaf.
Dain Swanson has a love for leading worship and music in every style. He has sung in the National Lutheran Choir since 2003, but also was involved in international music ministry through Youth Encounter. Dain also has a background in youth and family ministry, and currently works with people of all ages as a worship leader and media arts specialist at Word of Peace Lutheran Church in Rogers, MN. He is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, with a degree in religion and philosophy.
Chad Winterfeldt is a lifelong organist and church musician who serves as Cantor of Christ Chapel at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. In that role, he works with the Chaplains’ Office team to integrate faith and spirituality into the fullness of learning and life. He is an active leader in the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. Chad served previously as Director of Music at First Lutheran in St. Peter, MN and as Associate Organist for Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, TX. He holds degrees from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, Yale University, and The University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Tom Witt is a gifted and innovative keyboardist, serving as worship and song-leader for a wide variety of Lutheran and ecumenical events. Sharing his passion for music from the church all around the world, he was a founder of the ensemble, Bread for the Journey, and has served as musician-in-residence at Holden Village. Tom has been a key leader for many ELCA Global Mission events, and has helped mentor many young musicians. With Marty Haugen, Mary Preus, Susan Briehl, and Benjamin Stewart was part of the Living Liturgy teaching team that led worship and worship workshops across the United States. Tom is co-author with Susan Briehl of Holden Prayer Around the Cross: Handbook to the Liturgy and his recording of creative hymn improvisations, Dusting Off the Green Book, is widely known and appreciated. Tom currently serves as music coordinator at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, MN.
Daniel Wolpert has been a student of the spiritual life since age 21, and has taught i the fields of psychology and spiritual formation in numerous settings. He is Executive Director and Co-Founder of MICAH – Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (micahprays.org). In addition to his retreat and teaching work, Dan provides counseling and spiritual direction services at MICAH. He is a Presbyterian minister, and the author of several books, including, “Leading a Life with God, the practice of spiritual leadership.”