Rev. Stephanie Escher,
Vision of the Church: I believe in the work of God’s church to sustain, equip and inspire the people of God to boldly and joyfully make disciples for the transformation of the world. Through community, prayer, worship, shared stories, mutual accountability, truth telling, ubiquitous discipleship, risk taking mission and service, authentic and passionate engagement in the struggles and triumphs of our communities, a willingness to retool and reimagine how we do church in the 21st century, and lots of love, patience, trust and laughter, we live out the kingdom values in the now and not yet realm. We lean into the complex and difficult dynamics of community, trusting that with God’s grace we can engage healthy ways to navigate conflict that promote and model greater trust and transparency. We proclaim the good news in relevant ways that God has acted. We hold up a light for the world to see. We are regularly transformed for the work of transformation. We wage love.
Call to Ministry: As a Native American adoptee, my journey for belonging and identity was long and challenging as I navigated the liminal space between two cultural worlds. Through God’s healing and restorative grace, I found clarity of identity as a beloved child of God and an unconditional sense of belonging with the body of Christ. Indeed, I found welcome and room at the table. This formative and life-shaping experience of extravagant welcome of the ‘other’ has clarified my call and given me a deep well of compassion and grace, and a ministry of service to people at the edges, borders and intersections of the world. My two-world experience also serves as a bridge and connecting point for those at opposite points of center and margin where story sharing, deep dialogue and understanding can begin.
Gifts for the Ministry: I am creative, deeply spiritual, relational, strategic, visionary, good humored, adaptive, grounded and wholehearted. I have composed a life of varying adventures and deep calls to service and mission that have fine-tuned my sense of wonder and profound reverence for the sacred in all things. I have boldly and tenderly led groups of people through uncertainty and change. I come alive in leading pioneering, transformative work that begins with ourselves and extends to all of God’s people: those inside and outside the walls of the church, those who are seen and unseen, those who are labeled as either “other” or “neighbor”, those at the center and the margin, and gathers them with respect, integrity and mutuality in full community for joyful partnership in God’s ongoing work of restoration and regeneration of the entire created order.
Pastor Diane C. Olson,
Pastor Diane is a retired Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She has wide-ranging experience in ministry in large church settings, serving in the areas of Christian Education, mission/social justice outreach and pastoral care. Most recently she served as pastor of Gethsemane UMC in Lino Lakes. She is organized and compassionate with a passion for helping persons claim their ministry. Her responsibilities include pastoral visitation, oversight of pastoral care needs, and organization of a lay visitation ministry.
Pastor Diane is in her office Tuesdays from 11 – 2 and Wednesdays from 10 -2, and many Sundays from an hour or so before worship until an hour after. She makes hospital visits and calls on homebound persons who wish for a visit.
Director of Families with Children
Heather was raised by two United Methodist pastors and is a woman full of enthusiasm and excitement about working with children and their families in our environment. Heather grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in Elementary Education and Sociology/Anthropology in 1994 and a Masters in Experiential Education from Mankato State University in 2003. She served in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, Africa from 1995–1998 and then worked as an elementary teacher in New Mexico and Minnesota. Heather and husband, Chris, and children, Acacia (14) and Evan (11), enjoy camping, canoeing, and traveling. Heather is a children’s literature enthusiast and manages a web site and blog for teachers about great books for kids.
Rev Jean Elliott,
Director of Youth Ministries
Jean is a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She is gifted and passionate about working with youth and guiding them on their unique faith journeys. Jean has served in youth ministry for over 20 years in a variety of settings: camping ministry, campus ministry, and in several congregations. She is thrilled to be again serving at Good Samaritan UMC (previously served 2007-2013).
Jean received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology/Sociology and Religion from St. Olaf College and her Master’s from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She was ordained in the Minnesota Annual Conference in 2011.
Jean is originally from White Bear Lake, MN. She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and loves attending concerts, especially U2 shows!
G. Phillip Shoultz III,
Director of Music, Worship and the Arts,
Director of Chancel Choir and Youth Choir
Phillip has dedicated the last eighteen years to serving churches in the African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian, and United Methodist traditions. In addition to his work at Good Samaritan, he serves as Associate Conductor of Vocal Essence and is completing his doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota. Phillip enjoys a multifaceted career as a conductor, educator, singer, and speaker.
The winner of the 2015 National American Choral Directors Association Graduate Student Conducting Competition, Phillip sings professionally, adjudicates vocal festivals, and frequently appears as throughout the US as a guest clinician. Recently, he served as a Conducting Fellow at the Oregon Bach Festival and traveled to Germany to participate in the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy under the baton of Helmut Rilling, and England to participate in the C S Lewis Choral Institute in Cambridge and Oxford.
Phillip enjoys biking, jogging, and all things related to sports and food. He believes every person can experience great joy through singing and passionately encourages exploration of body, mind, and voice through corporate singing experiences. Phillip lives in St. Louis Park with his wife, Michelle; their son, Malachi and their daughter Lydia Grace.
Director of Children’s Choirs
Michelle is a native Minnesotan who is excited to be back in the land of hotdishes! She was raised on a farm near Alexandria where music was a family tradition. Her grandmother was the church organist, choir director, and her first piano teacher. Michelle’s grandfather was a self-taught saxophonist who enjoyed playing in the local “Tootin’ Gramps” band and her father still brings out his baritone every Easter to play “The Holy City” in church. Family trips were never without singing in the car. Michelle holds a B.S. degree in Vocal Music Education from the Minnesota State University of Moorhead, along with a B.A. degree in Human Services, where she studied psychology, sociology and music, from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Michelle has nine years of experience teaching music in the public school setting and also worked with the children’s music program of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in Atlanta for four years. She enjoys teaching piano lessons and has earned certification in both Kodaly and Orff music methodologies. Michelle loves teaching and is very excited to continue her work with the wonderful children of Good Samaritan. Michelle and her husband, Phillip, are proud parents of Malachi.
Director of Chancel Chimes
Sue is a lifelong church musician who played bells as a youth and began directing bell choirs in 1987. She has studied under a number of pioneering directors and composers, including Donald Allured and Dr. William Payne. Before joining the staff at Good Samaritan Sue directed bell choirs at Colonial Church of Edina and Nativity Lutheran Church in St Anthony. Sue and husband Randy live in Edina and have two sons, Chad, a banker living in Kansas City and Rob, a Navy Airman stationed at Port Whidbey Island, Washington. Randy is a Sales Manager for Land ‘O Frost Meats and Sue teaches Family & Consumer Sciences at Richfield Senior High School.
Helen joined our Good Samaritan staff in the Fall of 2013.
Dan works mornings and afternoons.
Before her retirement, Dandy served Good Samaritan as Associate Pastor from 1998-2005. As an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church she specialized in Christian Education and developed unique skills in the areas of media and technology. A gifts she brings to ministry is her ability to understand how the technology can be used to facilitate ministry. She currently maintains our website and often develops Multi-Media presentations. She also enjoys traveling, photography, and visiting with friends and family.