Faith Formation Team Bios
Heather has called Nativity her church home since 1996 when her future husband, who had been a Nativity member since preschool, asked her to attend church with him. She fell in love with the community and its welcoming atmosphere. Heather’s parents and sister joined Nativity soon afterwards. Nativity called to each of them differently, and that is something Heather loves about Nativity: different ways to explore faith and relationships, different ways to serve, different ways to participate in church life and different ways to feel valued. Heather began her ministry as a volunteer parent when her children were toddlers. As the girls grew up, Heather began working with the confirmation classes, found her spot and hasn’t looked back. She loves working with middle school students and finds comfort that they are encouraged to participate in church life using their own unique gifts and talents. In her spare time, Heather enjoys learning about and understanding different cultures. She also loves gardening and cooking, two pursuits that complement each other well.
Kyle has been a member of Nativity since he was a young child. He did both his first communion and his confirmation at Nativity. The welcoming atmosphere of Nativity is very attractive to Kyle, who also appreciates the variety of worship opportunities and community programs. Prior to attending United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, where he currently studies, Kyle served as the athletic director at a Catholic K-8 school in Minneapolis. Spending time with family tops Kyle’s list of awesome things to do. He especially enjoys hiking with his wife and playing with his three cats.
Dan and his wife Lynn first came through the doors of Nativity on New Year’s Eve 2000, and they immediately felt at home. The music, message, hospitality, openness and vitality prompted them to return; however, Dan never imagined that one day this would be his workplace. At the time, Dan served as a theology instructor and theatre arts coordinator at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, and his practice of Christianity was rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition. Over time, Dan’s family became members of Nativity, and Dan became involved with youth ministry and adult faith formation activities here. Dan became a pastor at Nativity in July of 2010. Dan’s family is a source of deep love, support and friendship. He is inspired by the example of ministry his wife Lynn offers him through her work with children and families as a special education guide. Dan is a fan of theater and baseball, and he especially enjoys watching his kids perform in these arenas.
Karla was first introduced to Nativity in 1996, when a college advisor recommended that she apply for the Director of Children’s Music position. Twenty fantastic years later, she is still enjoying time spent with the children, families, other musicians and friends at Nativity! Karla was prepared for her music ministry work by her mother’s church music leadership and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Augsburg College. She teaches children’s choirs, Kindermusik classes, Faith Formation music and adult handbells. Outside of church, Karla’s days are filled with family activities and adventures involving her husband and two daughters, and a full-time childcare business in their home.
Leah moved to NE Minneapolis in 2003, and she and her husband immediately sought out a church home. Being longtime Lutherans, they attended Nativity because it was a nearby Lutheran church. They loved the sweet musical stylings of David, Greg and Freda and the warmth of the people at Nativity, and so they became members in 2004. Leah continues to enjoy meeting people and nurturing relationships at Nativity, and she feels particularly grateful for the strong Faith Formation program. Leah studied voice, and she holds a BM from Indiana University and an MM from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she also worked as a teaching assistant in music history. After college, Leah worked as a nanny and has since become a certified Musikgarten instructor. In her free time, Leah enjoys reading, yoga, hiking and lightsaber battles with her son.
Sarah first got involved at Nativity in 2014, singing as a substitute vocalist with Pastor Justin Dittrich and The Cradle Worship. She is now the director of Worship 1040, a service held on Sunday mornings at Nativity in the Fellowship Hall. Sarah has always appreciated Nativity’s open and honest atmosphere, and in particular, Nativity’s willingness to tackle difficult topics with respect and openness. She also works with Intertwine Northeast, a new faith community with ties to Nativity. Sarah is currently studying for her Masters in Arts and Cultural Management at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. In her free time, Sarah enjoys writing music, journaling, and getting outdoors with her partner Shane. A creative soul, Sarah relishes finding imaginative ways to build community and strengthen relationships between people.
Tori’s parents joined Nativity Church when she was 6 months old. Her hair is white so you do the math! Tori grew up in this congregation, was confirmed and married here, and her kids have grown up at Nativity, too. She has been in her current position with Faith Formation Grades 1-6 since 2007. In Tori’s words, “The Nativity community is alive and open to change – and is willing to explore new ways of bringing God’s love to the world.” An unapologetic academic, Tori holds BA degrees in History and Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, and an MA degree in History from William and Mary. Tori and her husband Keith will choose travel over home maintenance every time. They especially love to see their east-coast kids (Noah and his wife Hannah in Atlanta and Abby in Boston). In her free time, Tori enjoys sewing, hosting family celebrations and planning the next trip.
Being a part of a faith community has been a regular part of Kelly’s life since childhood. When she began looking for a new church community in spring of 2014, Kelly attended Nativity and felt welcomed and invited; additionally, her son had a lot of fun! Now a member and staff member, Kelly enjoys the close relationships with the many supportive people at Nativity, and she considers Nativity a place to anchor her and replenish her spiritually and emotionally. Kelly graduated from Luther Seminary in May 2016 with a concentration in Children, Youth & Family Ministry, and she is currently pursuing her Master of Theology at Luther Seminary. Her faith, her Native American Heritage and Christian commitment make her who she is today: a servant of God, an educator and a mom. Kelly and her son Ciaran enjoy life together through music, dancing, creating bad jokes, reading and traveling God’s beautiful creation. Wakan Tanka Kici Un. God Bless you.
Chicka attended the University of Minnesota and received a BS in Youth Studies, Sociology and Art Education. She has been teaching comprehensive sexuality education, life skills and job skills to young people for over twenty years. Her award-winning leadership has contributed to the success of programs in local organizations like Lutheran Social Service and Teenwise. Chicka’s instruction is in high demand as a workshop presenter at conferences and in community organizations throughout the Twin Cities. Chicka masterfully interacts with adolescents in a way that elicits young people’s strengths, knowledge and values. She specializes in inviting young people to express themselves creatively through mural design, poetry, painting, improvisational acting and other artistic activities. She treasures the opportunity to share her gifts and passions within our faith community. To enhance her work in the congregational context, Ms. Merino has enrolled in Christian leadership training through Agora, an institute sponsored by regional ELCA synods.