Pastors & Staff
At Gloria Dei, I have the gift of preaching and presiding, leading the staff and lay leadership in our many and varied ministries, keeping us connected with one another, and lifting up the vision that our gathered assembly so powerfully named in its mission statement. I’m always inspired by how God can work through any one of us, even with our challenges and hurts, including my own. I seek to be a gentle and humble servant of this assembly of saints.
I grew up in Ohio, attended Ohio University, received a graduate degree at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and did doctoral work at Emory University in pastoral care and liturgical studies. I’ve served at Calvary Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio, the Office of the Chapel and Religious Life, Emory University, and St. John’s Lutheran Church, Atlanta.
I live in Minneapolis and think both cities have great charm and am glad to call both home. My husband, Darin, also an ELCA pastor, serves as a chaplain in long-term senior care, and we love to spend time at home, cooking, savoring the outdoors, reading good books, taking walks and biking on all the great bike trails.
One of the things I love most about being a Lutheran Christian is that we proclaim we are saved by grace through faith. Because we are freed from the burden of having to save ourselves, we can focus our attention on the needs of our neighbor--not because we need to earn God's love, but simply because others need our care and support. When we recognize that our salvation is God's doing--an act of grace--we can turn our gaze outward and respond to the needs of the world, doing acts of mercy to alleviate pain and suffering, and working to transform systems and institutions that perpetuate injustice.
I am a native of Pine River, Minnesota, in the Brainerd Lakes Area. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2006, I received a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 2009. I worked as a community organizer with OutFront Minnesota and the Minnesotans United campaign, before serving as the Interim Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. I was ordained and installed at Gloria Dei in August 2014. I live in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood with my husband Oby Ballinger, who is also a pastor, our dog Ruthie, and two cats, Amos and Hosea.
I serve as Pastor of Faith Formation at Gloria Dei, encouraging spiritual and faith formation in people throughout the lifespan. I love to encourage people of all ages to grow in their understanding of how God is working in their lives, but am especially excited about the ways my work at Gloria Dei allows me to encourage adults in their faith development.
I was raised in the Midwest and went to seminary in Chicago. I was ordained in 1989, and have served two other congregations before coming to Gloria Dei in 1999. My husband John and I live in Eagan where we raised our three wonderful children. I love coffee, music, the Chicago Cubs, gardening, cooking, computer games, and my job at Gloria Dei. I work part-time, and am usually in the office on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.
Director of Music
I have the great joy of leading the music program at Gloria Dei, where we have wonderful participation in both our choirs and in congregational singing. We are also blessed with excellent instrumental talent, from kids to adults, and our worship is enhanced and enriched by all of these musical gifts. I am a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, where I majored in church music and business administration and I hold a Master of Music degree from Indiana University School of Music in organ performance and church music. Besides my church position, I am also a freelance accompanist and regularly accompany Magnum Chorum, a Twin Cities based auditioned choir. I live in the Como Park neighborhood of St. Paul, where I enjoy gardening and entertaining and am always busy taking advantage of the outstanding musical and theater opportunities that the Twin Cities offers.
Assistant Director of Music
Paul Friesen-Carper is passionate about the church's song. He uses guitar and other string instruments to help the assembly sing vibrantly in a wide range of styles, and has done so at national and regional gatherings of the church. His songs for assembly have been commissioned by the ELCA Division for Worship, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, and various churches. Some of his work is published by Augsburg Fortress. His formation includes study at Valparaiso University (B.A. Music '04) and The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (M.A. Theological Studies '11) as well as life in community at Holden Village. He also performs as a guitarist, cellist, multi-instrumentalist and singer, and teaches private music lessons. When he's not making music, he's probably spending time with his nephews.
Learn more about Gloria Dei's Music Ministry.
Children's Ministry Director
My name is Kyrstin Schwartz and I am thrilled to be a part of the Gloria Dei team. I live in Inver Grove Heights with my husband Keith and two children, Gus (4 years) and Lila (4 months). As a family we love spending time in our pool, having movie nights, playing legos and going on adventures! For the past 13 years I have served at Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake as the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries.
I am excited to be focusing on Children and Families in my position at Gloria Dei. I look forward to growing in our faith together!
Learn more about Gloria Dei's Children's Ministry.
Gloria Dei is a church family that embraces, includes, and welcomes all – especially our teens and families! I’m called to help lead a shared-ministry team of youth and adults who serve God and one another through special events, Confirmation ministry, retreats, mentoring, service-learning, community advocacy, and friendship-strengthening. We have teens in our ministry from over 54 local Twin Cities schools, so one of our goals is to find ways to connect everyone around a shared mission. It’s a joy! I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater and a Masters of Divinity from Bethel Seminary – both places of learning served me very well in the pursuits I now enjoy. My home is in South Minneapolis with Kelly and our two dogs, Romeo Oreo and Baxter – puppies from two different dog rescue organizations. In fact, “Pastor” Baxter accompanies me many days in the church office! Come say hi!
Learn more about Gloria Dei's Youth Ministry.
Faith Community Nursing is a specialty practice that involves caring for the whole person: spirit, mind, and body, three indivisible parts of a whole entity that makes up each very individual human being. My goal is to help people to stay healthy in all of these ways. At Gloria Dei, the parish nurse works with pastors and member-led caring ministry teams to address needs within the congregation as well as supporting health promotion efforts for our neighbors in the community such as Circle of Caring blood drives, Project Home, and local food pantries.
I grew up in St Paul and am happy to be a lifelong member of Gloria Dei. I earned a bachelors’ degree in Nursing from The College of St Catherine and a master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Minnesota. I am a Minnesota-licensed RN, Public Health Nurse and Licensed School Nurse with national credentials in Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing and Faith Community Nursing. I have worked with people in hospitals, home health care, public health, and educational settings. Regardless of physical ability, our souls can be amazingly strong, joyful and resilient. This gives me great hope.
I live in St Paul with my husband Scott, who is retired. We have two adult sons who live in Duluth. I enjoy spending time outdoors, reading, and spending time with my family and friends.
Event and Program Coordinators
Christine Berg Schroeder
Wednesday Supper Coordinator
Alleluia Children's Choir
Greg Larson (wedding)