Steve Kramer Senior Pastor
A product of Livingston, Montana, Pastor Steve found his way to the Midwest through Luther College in Iowa and Luther Seminary in St. Paul; he became a pastor in 1980. God led him to Shepherd in 1986 (he refuses to leave!) and he loves being a pastor to this flock and preaching the good news of Jesus.
Steve is married to Julie and the couple has two grown children, Sam and Martha. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the Minnesota Twins baseball team is common conversation with Steve. In his free time he enjoys relaxing with Julie, playing music, and reading.
- Christian Huntley
Christian Huntley Associate Pastor
In his hometown of Grimes, Iowa, it was Christian’s youth director who got him started on his journey to ministry. He started running the church’s high school ministry, one thing led to the next, and he was soon enrolling in the seminary program at Bethel University to become a pastor. Now he is living out and teaching others Jesus’ great commandment—love God, love neighbor (Matthew 22:37–40).
A social guy, after work you will still find Christian meeting new people—often over a great meal or cup of coffee. With his wife, Jenna, he enjoys visiting new restaurants and trying new foods. And be careful if you get him started talking about the outdoors—Christian is an avid hunter and fisher!
- Christian Huntley
Keri Aldridge Director of Children’s Ministry
Even before she started worshiping at Shepherd, Keri was involved with a Shepherd small group; it became one of her greatest joys and the source of her deepest friendships. She brings this love for Christian community to her work as she weekly helps kids connect to Christ.
Keri is an avid downhill skier, reader, and cook. She expects great things as she trusts in Romans 8:28—”We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
- Kris Coyer
Kris Coyer Children’s Ministry Coordinator
Kris has always been passionate about connecting kids to Christ, first as a long-time volunteer with Children’s Ministry and now staff. She has made many connections here at Shepherd and truly values the friendships she has made along the way, especially in her small groups.
Since 2003, Kris and her husband, Dan have made their home in Hudson, but don’t call them Packer fans—they remain loyal to their Minnesota teams! As her 3 kids get older, she treasures the moments spent with them, but sometimes has to settle for the two beagles, a good book, and a cup of coffee. She counts on God’s promise in Philippians 4:13—”I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”—as she begins every new adventure.
- Kari Kahl
Kari Kahl Children’s Ministry Operations Coordinator
“For I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:28. This all-at-once powerful and comforting message is a key verse for Kari. She is a strong believer in the power of relationships and small groups to connect people to Christ. Drawing on many years of experience at Northwest Airlines, Kari helps the Children’s Ministry team pull off great ministry events.
In the summers you will often find Kari and her family at their cabin near Danbury, Wisconsin. They are big fans of all things Stillwater—downtown living, Pony sports, and, of course, Candyland. And she is still working to perfect her recipe that makes vegetables appear exciting to kids who really love ice cream.
- Darla Ostrand
Darla Ostrand Children’s Ministry Coordinator
She traded the mountains and good Mexican food of Colorado for the lakes, streams, and hot dishes of Minnesota, but Darla doesn’t feel shorted. She loves being part of the Shepherd family and welcoming everyone into our flock. The youngest Sunday School classes love Darla’s creativity as she helps them understand God’s plan for their lives. It makes sense her favorite verse is “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…,” Jeremiah 29:11
At home you will find hockey on the TV as she enjoys time with her husband, girls, and golden retriever, Haddie.
- Kris Coyer
Kristin Lagus Director of Small Group Ministry
There is no one more committed to helping others live better connected than Kristin. A great believer in the power of Christian community to cause life-transformation through Jesus, she hasn’t been without a small group since high school. Fearless in her mission to support Shepherd small groups, it’s no wonder her life verse is Philippians 4:13—”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Kristin and her husband, John, are both proud Oles (St. Olaf College alumni for the uninitiated). Lattes, chocolate, and good wine are among her favorites, but nothing beats an active adventure with her three boys!
- Medora Benson
Medora Benson Small Groups Ministry Coordinator
After growing up in North Dakota, Medora found her first small group in Texas. It was, of course, an invitation from a neighbor that helped her live better connected. Now, Medora is a huge advocate for small groups at Shepherd and everywhere, crediting them for helping our big church still feel like family. Just ask her—groups are where people know and care for each other, she will say.
While a loyal Twins fan, Medora’s favorite teams are those of her three busy boys. When she does get a moment of rest, you will find her with a great book or enjoying the company of friends and family.
- JoAnn Wert
JoAnn Wert Small Groups Ministry Coordinator
After attending just one women’s small group bible study, JoAnn became hooked on small groups ministry. She now champions women’s ministry activities at Shepherd, notably the Tuesday Morning Women’s Bible Study and annual Women’s Retreats. JoAnn loves the people at Shepherd!
Outside of work, you can find JoAnn baking and cooking in her kitchen, enjoying time with family, or out on a walk. Of course, on that special night of the week, you will certainly find her in front of the TV watching Downton Abbey!
- Medora Benson
Caitlin Ronayne Special Needs Coordinator
Caitlin found herself drawn to Shepherd because of the church’s commitment to loving and serving all students—especially those with special needs. On Wednesdays and Sundays you will find her busy with the fun of The Circuit and Sunday School, openly sharing the love of Christ with everyone. During the day, Caitlin is a special education teacher in Woodbury—yup, she can’t get enough of students!
After her work is done, you can probably find Caitlin near a Noodles & Company (she’s an enthusiast of mac & cheese!) most likely surrounded by friends. And while Parenthood is no longer on TV, she’s happy to settle for the reruns on Netflix!
Sam Dittrich Director of Student Ministry
An Iowa transplant, Sam came to Shepherd to connect students to Christ. It’s what he’s been passionate about since high school and what he went to school for at North Central University. If you stop in to “The Circuit” on a Wednesday night, you will see his passion in action as he preaches the message and joins students in worship. He never tires of watching students authentically and passionately pursue God.
If you need to track Sam down, start by checking the nearest Chipotle where he regularly holds “office hours.” You might also find him at home with his wife, Christina, and two kids watching Shark Tank—who doesn’t want to throw big money at big ideas?!
- Christie Pitzer
Christie Pitzer Student Ministry Operations Coordinator
It was a ministry in college that touched Christie’s heart and she has been passionate about student ministry ever since. After a successful corporate career, she felt God tugging her to the students at The Circuit at Shepherd of the Valley and she now uses her talents to enable this busy ministry to reach even more kids for Christ. Christie feels blessed to have this opportunity to give back to the kingdom.
With teenage kids, you will often find Christie and her family busy with a variety of artistic and sporting activities. She is a great cook, loves music of all kinds, and is a fan of the Green Bay Packers.
- Christie Pitzer
Jill Wurm Director of Serving Teams
You don’t need to be at church long before you will meet Jill. Getting her start as a volunteer, Jill joined the staff to help support and coordinate the many volunteers it takes to make the weekend run smoothly and connect people to Jesus. Even when she is not working, you will still find her volunteering with Student Ministry or serving at a funeral.
A product of White Bear Lake, Jill now makes her home in Hudson—not too far from a Caribou Coffee drive-thru! She loves to spend time with her family and friends, visiting the great local restaurants, and working out.
- Amy Jaynes
Amy Jaynes Director of Mission & Outreach Teams
After a decade in corporate America, Amy gave it all up to come work with the always crazy student ministry team and it has been an adventure following God’s calling ever since. These days Amy coordinates the many Mission & Outreach Teams that serve outside the church walls. She loves how connected she feels at Shepherd and counts on the strong biblical messages, amazing small groups, and serving teams as she loves Jesus more each day.
Yes, she cooks in her kitchen, but it is also home to many family dance parties, friendly gatherings, and laughter. From their home in Hudson, Amy and her husband, Tim, run an imaginary zoo with the help of their very imaginative four children.
- Laura Meyer
Laura Meyer Nursery Coordinator
Laura is crazy about kids! She focused on early childhood in school, taught preschool, volunteered with Sunday School, still runs a home childcare, and, now, takes care of the littlest ones at church. It brings her great joy to help provide everyone a connection point at Shepherd.
With her husband, Jason, Laura takes care of the couple’s three kids—swimming, camping, and just being outside (she’s a big fan of summer!). If she needs a night out, you will probably find Laura at the best Mexican restaurant she can find.
- Amy Jaynes
Meredith Blum Worship Coordinator
Meredith loves being part of a church that feels like home for so many people! Through worship, small groups, or other events, she sees how the Shepherd community strives to make others feel welcomed and part of this Christ-centered mission. After starting as part of the band for The Circuit, Mer quickly began lending her gifts to a variety of Shepherd ministries before landing in her current role coordinating worship activities for all of Shepherd.
When not at church, you can find Mer on a walk with her new puppy or anywhere else outdoors. She loves to be in nature as she stands in awe of God’s handiwork.
- Kris Tjornehoj
Kris Tjornehoj Choir Director
For nearly all of her adult life, Kris has been dedicated member of Shepherd. She has been committed to the music ministry and choir at Shepherd for more than 30 years. It is a centerpiece of her life in the valley!
Outside of Shepherd, you can find Kris playing piano and saxophone or conducting ensembles through her work at University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Beyond music, you can find Kris traveling or enjoying outdoor activities at her cabin in northern Wisconsin.
- Kris Tjornehoj
Michael Faust Business Administrator
A lifelong church member, Michael has experienced the gamut of Shepherd of the Valley ministries. After studying at Carlson School of Management and a stint in corporate communications, Michael joined the staff at Shepherd. He sees God’s hand at work as he has watched Shepherd grow and change over its many years.
All summer you can find Michael boating on White Bear Lake or tending to his roses. If you can’t find him around church it usually means he’s out traveling the world with his wife, Jessica.
- Jim Dickman
Jim Dickman Facility Manager
Behind successful ministries and events, you will always find Jim. From keeping parking lots clear and bathrooms clean to emergency repairs, Jim’s talents keep the church up and running for the countless people who visit. It’s no wonder his favorite verse is 1 Thessalonians 4:11—”aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.” Shepherd is his home and everyone here is family.
Jim has spent his lifetime in Hudson and is married to his high school sweetheart. After-hours you will find him in his workshop turning beautiful bowls on his lathe or crafting furniture (look around you will see some of his handiwork at church!).
- Bob Fritsche
Bob Fritsche Custodian
A “Stillwater guy” and graduate of Mahtomedi High School, Bob has been around the St. Croix Valley all his life. After many years in a sheet metal shop, Bob answered the call to help support the many ministries that occur at the church. You will find him tidying up the building at all hours of the day and night, getting ready for the next event. He believes this is the place God has called him right now.
A Navy veteran, Bob is active in the VFW and is always ready to assist his fellow vets. When not at work, you might find him snoozing in his easy-chair.
- Marie Odden
Marie Odden Office Manager
A Stillwater native, Marie met Christ after being invited by a friend to camp. Now as a long-time Shepherd member, the church is her “home away from home.” Over the years she has seen Christ’s love in action as the congregation continues to invite those who aren’t connected to Him.
Outside of work, you can find Marie enjoying time with friends and family. Or watch the road as she and her husband, Jim take their 1938 Chevrolet to local car shows!
- JoAnn Wert
JoAnn Wert Business Manager
In addition to being a champion of small groups, JoAnn also lends her gifts to the business side of the church. After years as the town clerk for Hudson, JoAnn joined the Shepherd admin team to help its business processes run as smoothly as her ministries.
Don’t worry, outside of work, you can still find JoAnn baking and cooking in her kitchen, enjoying time with family, or out on a walk. And, yes, on that special night of the week, you will certainly find her in front of the TV watching Downton Abbey!
- Jim Dickman