Aaron Erdley has been the Associate Pastor at First Lutheran since August 2007. Aaron is originally from Pennsylvania, and despite being a "transplant" to the midwest, he and his family are still avid Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Aaron graduated from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Music degree, and immediately entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, graduating in May 2005. First Lutheran is Aaron's second call, having previously served a small parish in Altoona, PA. In addition to his "regular" pastoral duties, he works with the Social Ministry Committee, and has responsibilities for Confirmation, Middle & Sr. High Youth group, and college-age ministry. He is passionate about the inclusion of youth and young adults into all aspects of church life and making connections between the generations. He and his wife, Danielle, have been married since December 2000, and have one daughter, Elena, who is in elementary school. He enjoys spending time with his family, music, soccer, and cheering on their PA football teams!
Pastor Marsha Anderson
Marsha Anderson began her ministry as Visitation Pastor at First Lutheran in May 2012. Previously, she served congregations in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska City, Nebraska until she "retired in December 2010. She attended Californial Lutheran University, graduated from the University of California in Santa Barbara and from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, and was ordained on July 15, 1983. She is single, has 2 brothers, many nieces and nephews, 4 god-children, and 2 cats, Barney and KoKo. She loves getting together with friends and family, reading (mysteries, romances, and spirituality), playing Scrabble and Dominoes, and doing counted cross-stitch. She is a certified Spiritual Director with background in the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory and the Enneagram and loves making connections with people and helping people connect with what is important to them, especially their journey with God.
Lauren was born and raised in Towson, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. She found community in the Lutheran church as a youth, and was confirmed at Ascension Evangelical Lutheran Church in Towson. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from West Chester University, where she was also immersed in the leadership development and service learning program, and the collegiate forensic speech community. Lauren has completed her second year of studies at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and is excited to be spending her intern year at First Lutheran. Her passions include traveling, reading, gardening (especially edibles), the great outdoors, music, and cooking. Her favorite section of the liturgy is the sending. Ask her why!
Director of Music Ministry
Bonita Johnsen has been the Director of Music Ministry since 1985. She earned a Master of Music degree specializing in sacred music at UNL and has been an Associate in Ministry since 1987. Bonita is the primary organist and choir/ensemble director for the congregation and oversees a number of very talented assistants and volunteers. She also works with worship preparations, drama ministry, visual arts and memorials. She strives to involve as many members as possible in the various fine arts ministries. Bonita is married and has two grown daughters.
Director of Discipleship
Energized by new ideas, creative thinking and "ah-ha" moments, Sunni enjoys "walking with" others as they discover their gifts and find new ways to use those gifts at First Lutheran and beyond. As Director of Discipleship, Sunni works with evangelism, new members, spirituality happenings, some administration and filling in wherever and with whatever. She is a Commissioned Associate in Ministry in the ELCA. Sunni shares her home with Koda the dog. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, being creative, learning and being outdoors.
Director of Faith Formation and Family Ministries
Heidi Widner joined the First Lutheran staff in 2009. As the Director of Faith Formation and Family Ministries, Heidi is responsible for FaithTrek, our Sunday School ministry for children age 3 through 5th grade; Early Childhood Ministries; Vacation Bible School; and our growing Milestones Ministry. Heidi also coordinates and supports a variety of ministries for children and families including the annual Advent Fair, involvement with Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries, and other outreach projects, festivals and special events. Heidi graduated in 1996 with a BA in Music from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN and received her Master's in Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Our Lady of the Lake University, Houston, Tx in 2007. Heidi's husband, Mike is a Pastor at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Syracuse, NE. They have one daughter, Violet, who is in elementary school and loves soccer, swimming, and all things princess.
Judy Batterman has been a member of First Lutheran since 1974. She recently came out of "retirement" to work part-time in the church office. Between them, Judy and her husband, Bob, have 5 grown children and 10 grandchildren. In her spare time, Judy likes to travel, garden and spend time spoiling her grandkids.
Barb has been a member of First Lutheran since 1989. As Communications Coordinator, Barb keeps the congregation connected through the website, newsletter, e-newsletters, Facebook, and displays. In her spare time, Barb enjoys camping, boating, reading and attending her three childrens' activities.
Blaz Knevevic is a native of Croatia. He immigrated to the United States in 1998. Blaz is married to Tracy Mueller Knezevic, and they have two daughters, Vana, 5, and Daria, 2 1/2.Blaz enjoys woodworking and cold-smoking meats, as well as crafting in a variety of materials. Blaz worked in the telecommunications industry in Bosnia for 10 years. He also worked in construction and maintenance in Germany before immigrating. Most recently, he was a maintenance technician for the Lied Center for Performing Arts at UNL.
Howard "Hop" Cook, part-time custodian, is one of seven children. He grew up in Lincoln, where he raised four children. He is proud of five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He has been actively involved in sports his whole life and is an inductee in the Lincoln High Sports Hall of Fame. He says the three most inspirational people in his life are Jesus Christ, his father, and his coach.