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Pastor Tim Smith spent the first 50 years of his life as a resident of western North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship, and while there he played J.V. Basketball for Coach Roy Williams and also served as musical director of the Clef Hangers, a then-fledgling men’s a cappella singing group. While at Chapel Hill he met and later married Wendy Weisner. They have 3 adult children: Matt, 26, a seminary student; Isaac, 24, in medical school; and Ruth, 21, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2010 Pastor Tim moved to Atlanta to fulfill the call to be Senior Pastor. Wendy recently accepted a position as a middle school science teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Marietta.
Pastor Tim went to seminary at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (PA) and served his internship year at the American Church in Berlin in 1984-85. Further studies resulted in a Doctor of Ministry degree from Drew Theological School in New Jersey in 1992. He has been active on the synodical level in leadership roles with Youth, Evangelism, Services for the Aging, and Candidacy Committees. He is currently in the process of supervising his 21st year-long seminary intern, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors of Lenoir-Rhyne University and is a regular preacher with Day1 Ministries radio broadcasts.
Prior to coming to Redeemer, he served for 7 years as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church-Startown in Newton, NC and then for nearly 17 years as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Boone, NC.×
Pastor Mary Peters grew up in Salem Virginia, studied at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA and for many years worked as a speech pathologist and special education teacher. Not a “cradle Lutheran”, it was in college that she joined the Lutheran Church.
Pastor Mary cautiously responded to God’s call, wanting to make sure God had not called the wrong person by mistake. During seminary the opportunities for hospital ministry training were her favorite.
Pastor Mary served her first parish in Shamokin, Pennsylvania where she also served as a hospital chaplain. She went on to further her clinical pastoral education with a year’s chaplain residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. At year’s end the discernment between hospital chaplaincy and congregational ministry was not easy. Fortunately, a congregational call from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salisbury, North Carolina provided the clear answer and was a great blessing.
In 2000 Pastor Mary and Pastor Donald Miller married and moved to Winchester, VA. On leaving St. John’s the farewell roast focused on her lousy singing.
Coming back southward was made possible by a call to serve on the North Carolina’s Bishop’s staff. Donald however, found employment in Atlanta, GA with Emory Healthcare and living apart was a challenge. Pastor Mary finally joined Donald in Atlanta and was called to Redeemer. Following the transitions after Pastor Sims’ retirement, Pastor Mary went on to serve as transition/interim pastor for two congregations. In 2010 Redeemer Lutheran issued a call to Pastor Mary to return and it is her hope to remain for a long time in her role as Associate Pastor for Member Care.×
Pastor Seyward was born and raised in northern Minnesota. She is the oldest of four children. Her father is a Lutheran pastor and her mother is a paraprofessional at an elementary school. “As a pastor’s daughter, the church has always felt like a second home. I was very involved in my church throughout my life, but I did not seriously consider seminary until halfway through college. It was at this time that I realized that being involved with the church, with the lives and faiths of the Christian people, was the most fulfilling aspect of my life, and when I understood this, I felt truly called to the ministry.”
In 2006, Pastor Seyward graduated from Gustavus Adophus College in St. Peter, Minnesota with a BA in Music. She earned her Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2010. While in seminary she met her husband Justin who is also a Lutheran pastor now serving at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Woodstock, Georgia. It is interesting to note that while Justin served an internship in the Atlanta area in 2008, Pastor Seyward completed her Clinical Pastoral Education work as a chaplain at the Metro State Women’s Prison in Atlanta. She accepted a call to Christ the King Lutheran in Cumming, Georgia in 2010.
Among her areas of expertise is social ministry. “I have a passion for providing opportunities for a congregation to engage a community in ministry that is life-changing both for the congregation as well as those in the community. I believe that it is vital for a congregation to be aware of the needs of their
neighbors and tend to them.”
Worship leadership and music are also areas of expertise. “I have learned early on that leading worship is one of my best strengths. I feel comfortable in leading worship in almost any setting. At the 2012 Southeastern Synod Assembly, I was asked to be one of the worship leaders, which was humbling and also re confirmed this to be a primary gift with which God has blessed me. Also, music is a passion of mine and I love incorporating it into worship. While I love traditional worship, I also enjoy putting together new and different worship services.”
Pastors Seyward and Justin own a house in Woodstock which they share with three cats: Melanchthon, Caiaphas and Genesis. Pastor Seyward loves movies, reading, hiking and camping. She incorporated these loves into her past work such as the creation of a book club for adults “God Between the Lines: Finding God in Fiction” and her “Theology in Film” series for youth.
Pastor Seyward is very excited to be working at Redeemer and has high hopes for the Outreach and Evangelism Boards. “I look forward to getting to know all of the outreach ministry partners that our church supports; I think it is important to have a good relationship with them and understand each of their stories and why we support them, and then be able to communicate those reasons to the congregation. I believe there are many opportunities and ways in which we all can serve these ministry partners, but communication is vital in order for those opportunities to become realities. My hope is to make those opportunities more available to the congregation. As for the Evangelism Board, I’m excited to start working with people passionate about evangelism and find ways that we can redefine the ways in which we do evangelism here at Redeemer.
I am very open to your ideas and suggestions, so please do not hesitate to contact me or join us in this new and exciting journey!”×
Pastor Matt Simpkins grew up at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Franklin, TN and served on the staff at Lutheridge while in college at the University of Tennessee where he earned a B.A. in Speech Communication and Organizational Development in 1998. After working in recruiting
and sales for a few years for Aerotek in Nashville, Pastor Matt answered the call to ordained ministry and graduated in 2006 with a Masters of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. During his four years at Faith Lutheran Church, Pastor Matt was instrumental in starting a 2nd campus and bringing a new format and energy to their non-traditional service. He has served for several years on the AFFIRM staff providing worship leadership. AFFIRM is the Southeastern Synod’s summer camp for 6-12th graders.
Pastor Matt is also working under contract with Lutheran Church of the Redeemer to develop an alternative worship service in Midtown Atlanta. Pastor Matt’s wife, Melody, is an Associate in Ministry (AIM) and will serve at Redeemer as their Minister for Faith Formation.
Melody and Matt have two sons and live in Decatur.
Check out Pastor Matt’s band STARBOARDERS at:www.STARBOARDERS.com×
Vicar Melody Simpkins grew up in Franklin, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology. After working at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and as a stay-at-home mom, she felt a calling to ministry. In 2005, Melody graduated from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Religion. After her first call as the Associate in Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Knoxville, TN, she has returned to school at Luther Seminary to work toward her Masters of Divinity. Here at Redeemer, Melody is the Minister for Faith Formation and is completing her internship for seminary.
Melody is married to Pastor Matt Simpkins who is the Pastor for Missions and Lutheran Campus Ministry. Melody and Matt have two wonderful, energetic boys and live in Decatur.
Vicar Itonde Kakoma from Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa who will be serving his 18 to 24-month half-time internship here at Redeemer while maintaining his “day job” at the Carter Center. Itonde has been at Redeemer for a couple of years already, and we are pleased now to welcome him as part of our pastoral staff during his internship.
Sandra serves at Redeemer as the Minister to Young Adults and serves at House of the Rock as the Director of Community Life Development and a Worship Curator. Sandra graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor’s in philosophy. She has studied vocal performance and piano for many years, including 3 years at the collegiate level. She and Greg have been married for four years and enjoy spending time going to movies and concerts as well as taking walks and playing with their one-year-old black lab puppy, Wally. Sandra is excited about where God is leading Redeemer and is overjoyed to be a part of Redeemer’s vibrant community.×
Susan Cordell is one of a few native “Atlantans”! Susan joined the Redeemer Ministry Team in 1989, following a 12 year career in the Hospitality Industry.
Susan has served in multiple areas of ministry since her call to Redeemer. Initially, she helped with developing a comprehensive communications/marketing strategy to rebuild Redeemer’s presence in Midtown as well as attract Young Adult Singles and those with children. She presently works closely with the Pastors and Staff in new program development, operational administration and serves as one of the worship leaders for our 9:45 Worship service. Susan is married to Dick Cordell, has four children and six grandchildren!×
Robin Durdin has served the members of Redeemer as the Office Administrator since February 1999.
She is a Georgia native and graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta. Her professional experiences include being an office manager/sales administrator for both a large movie theatre group and Atlanta area veterinary clinic. Robin and her husband, Matthew, were married at Redeemer and have one daughter, Josephine. They enjoy equestrian events and being active outdoors.×
Gabrielle Eichelberger is a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member serving as the Outreach Engagement Coordinator at Redeemer. She graduated in May from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a BS in Sociology and a minor in Faith-Justice Studies. Gabrielle is originally from Bethlehem, PA where her home church is Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit. She was involved with many different service opportunities and social justice issues both with her church and university. She is excited to be a part of LVC in Atlanta and to be involved in wonderful work Redeemer does.×
More Information Coming Soon!×
David Hansen has served as Director of Adult Choral Activities at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer since December 2001. An Atlanta native, he began conducting while a student at Grady High School and has conducted for more than 40 years. He studied at Duke University, Georgia State University and Candler School of Theology of Emory University, though his most significant musical education has come through his long membership in the choruses of The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. As a musician, he has served on the staffs of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church and The Salvation Army. In addition to his duties at Redeemer, David is the assistant director of The Salvation Army William Booth Towers, a facility providing affordable housing for the elderly, handicapped and disabled.×
Sarah Hawbecker is an active recitalist, full-time church musician, and winner of numerous competitions. She is a prize winner of both the 1998 and 1996 National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. She won first place in the 1988 Undergraduate Organ Competition, Ottumwa, Iowa, and was a finalist in the 1992 Spivey International Competition. Ms. Hawbecker’s performances have been recorded and broadcast on American Public Media’s radio program Pipedreams®. She has performed for three different regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, a national conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and served as adjudicator for several organ competitions, including the semi-final round of the 2008 National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. She has been published in the journal The American Organist, and presents workshops throughout the region.
A native of Illinois, Ms. Hawbecker studied organ and church music with John Ferguson at St. Olaf College, where she earned the Bachelor of Music degree, Magna cum laude with Departmental Distinction, and was elected into Pi Kappa Lambda, the Music Honor Society. She went on to earn the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Russell Saunders. An active lifetime member of the American Guild of Organists, she has served three terms on the AGO’s National Council, as well as on local and national committees. She is one of the authors of the Augsburg Fortress blog for musicians as well as a faculty member of the Greater Atlanta Leadership Program for Musicians.
Ms. Hawbecker has served as Organist and Director of Children’s Music at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta since 1996. At Redeemer, she oversees a program of two children’s choirs, four handbell choirs, a summer music camp, and a concert series. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Billy Fuller, and their son, Jonathan.×
Jennifer Isaacson grew up at Faith Lutheran Church in Knoxville, TN and moved to Atlanta to attend college and swim at Emory University. After graduating from Emory with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1995, getting a job in accounting with Georgia-Pacific and passing the CPA exam (on the first try!), she began her search for a new church home. She joined Redeemer in late 1995 and became very active in the young adult group, where she met her husband Paul, who joined Redeemer in early 1996. Jennifer and Paul were married at Redeemer in 1999 and have since had their 3 boys baptized here.
Jennifer chose to leave the corporate accounting world after almost 12 years at Georgia-Pacific when a need arose at Redeemer. Always feeling like “she could do this” while watching her father-in-law do the finance work at his church in Florida, when she heard the prior financial director had left and was asked if she knew of anyone who would be interested in the job, she knew this was her call. Jennifer joined the Redeemer staff in March 2007. She and Paul have three sons and live in Peachtree Corners.×
Amber Koter-Puline is originally from Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Education. She served as a Director of Education for Sylvan Learning Centers in Pennsylvania for two years before starting a preschool at a Lutheran Church in New York.
After moving to Atlanta, she joined Redeemer’s staff in 2004 as Director of Family Ministries and has since enjoyed serving the congregation in a variety of roles with people of all ages. She most enjoys working with small children and Senior Adults, as well as working with parents and couples to build and improve their family relationships.
Amber’s passion is using social media to help others. When she is not updating the Redeemer website or caring for her family, Amber volunteers in the area of Women’s Mental Health, including as a facilitator of support groups in the Atlanta metro area and as author of a well-recognized blog.
Amber is fueled by friendships, yoga, prayer, and bacon. She lives in Atlanta with her sons and husband.
404.874.8664 ext. 230
What I Do: Website and Social Media, Nursery and Childcare, Parenting and Marriage Classes and Small Groups
Karen Medford has been the Parish Nurse and Director of Health and Wellness at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer since the inception of the program. She has been a member of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer since 1991. Karen completed her baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio. She has experience in hospital-based nursing, physician office nursing, case management/home health nursing. Karen works closely with the pastoral staff to identify member care needs and to coordinate support. This often includes helping members find the community medical or social service resources that they need. She also serves on the Wellness Board to plan events and educational opportunities that promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Additionally, she coordinates and trains the volunteers who provide outreach to homebound members. Gwinnett Medical Center’s congregational health ministry program provides support and guidance to the nursing aspects of Karen’s ministry×
David L. Ott, Sr. was confirmed and married his wife Susan at Redeemer. He has been a member for 56 years. His four daughters and son were baptized and confirmed at Redeemer and two of his daughters were married here. He had served on Church Council four terms, as well as serving on various boards and the ushering staff. He has taught Bible, Church History, and Theology for many years, both at Redeemer and outside the Church. David is currently serving on the Boards of the Areopagus, a Christian Study Center, and Safari Club Georgia Chapter, a wildlife conservation organization. He served on the founding Board of Whitefield Academy, a Christian college preparatory school. In 2010, David retired from the automobile business after 42 years and became Redeemer’s Operations Manager and Parish Associate.×
Bill comes from the Washington D.C. area and attended college at The University of Tennessee 2005-2010. He studied Studio Music and Jazz and was a devoted member of the Tennessee Marching Band. While in school he was hired on at Faith Lutheran Church in Farragut TN where he met Pastor Matt Simpkins. In the summer of 2010 he sold all of his furniture, moved out of his apartment and left his job in Knoxville TN. He went to work his seventh summer at United Methodist Camp Tekoa where he put his life in God’s hands. Through the summer he felt the call to move to Atlanta and help to start a mid town mission church with Pastor Matt Simpkins, after prayerful consideration he accepted and moved his life south. Through his life he has been very involved in church and youth group and considers everyone his friend. He may come off as scary towering 6’6″, but deep down he is just a guy who loves cartoons and giving out hugs. With Tim the tool man Taylor being a role model for him and his Dad, Bill loves learning how things work and doing them himself.×
Tawanda Searcy has been on Redeemer’s staff for for five years, serving as a welcoming face at the reception desk. She, her husband and two children live in Norcross. She enjoys spending time with her family and all things creative!×
More Information Coming Soon!×
Cathy Vogel has been affiliated with weddings at Redeemer since 1989, first, as a volunteer member of the Wedding Guild, then as Chair. Since 2005, as Wedding Director, she has used her long experience in the field to help numerous wedding parties and families craft the memories, which she hopes will last a lifetime.
Additionally, Cathy sings in both the Redeemer Choir and the Canticum Novum Ensemble and serves in an administrative capacity to the Director, as needed. As Chair of the Heritage Guild, she uses her extensive knowledge of history and art to educate various groups in the history and symbolism of Redeemer’s beautiful facility.
When not performing duties at Redeemer, Cathy serves as a tour guide in many of Atlanta’s historic venues, including the Fox Theatre, Historic Oakland Cemetery, and Atlanta History Center. She is deeply committed to Friends of Decatur Cemetery of which she is a founding member and past chair.×
Maria Welsh has been in Atlanta for 30 years, and has served at Redeemer for 13. Before coming to Redeemer, she managed numerous Atlanta restaurants. She loves to cook for family and friends. She is originally from New Jersey; a first generation from full-blood Italian parents. She enjoys vegetable and flower gardening, cooking and her dog, Bella. Her passion is taking care of Redeemer and running the Redeemer food ministry for our “Street Members”. Once they walk through the red doors, they’re become “street members” instead of “homeless”.×
Crystal comes to Redeemer with a background in youth ministry and small group ministry. She has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her and is passionate about serving others in the name of Christ. Crystal is married to her perfect match, David, and is Mommy to Autumn and the two sweetest kitties on earth.
Crystal is a graduate of Valparaiso University (Bachelor of Arts – Theology) and The University of Akron School of Law (Juris Doctor).×
Chris was born and raised in Nashville, TN. He graduated in August 2010 from Middle Tennessee State University with a B.S. in International Relations. While at MTSU Chris was a vital part of creating the Encounter Worship service at Advent Lutheran Church in Murfreesboro, TN. He was the Worship Leader there for three years before completing his studies and moving to Atlanta in the Summer of 2010. In August 2011, he began work on a Master of Divinity at The Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Chris has been to countless church camps, conferences, and retreats (with the t-shirts to prove it), is an avid tennis fan, and his second favorite thing to do is go to the movies. His first favorite thing to do is spend time watching Netflix with his puppies Peach and Gizmo and his wife Becky. Chris is patiently waiting for commercial space travel to develop so he can pursue his true calling as a Space Pirate.×
Jonathan Trapp serves as a coordinator for the Sunday Afternoon Ministry for House of the Rock. He is also currently the chairperson of the Southeastern Synod’s Hunger, Poverty and Justice Taskforce and enjoys working through the church to pursue justice for the oppressed. Jonathan manages and responds to emergencies of all types and magnitude in his ‘real’ job at CDC.
Jonathan is an active runner and cyclist who used to race bicycles competitively and completed a three day, stage race, ultramarathon. He recently began the candidacy process for ordained ministry and is currently enrolled at Luther Seminary. Jonathan and his wife, Elizabeth, are grateful to have two retired greyhounds who have graciously allowed J and E to stay in ‘their’ house and sit on ‘their’ couch.×
Jon and his wife Andrea have been members of Redeemer since 1994, and enjoy sharing their faith with their three children Max, Levi and Violet.
A self-described pop culture junkie, Jon has spent the past 20 years as an entertainment journalist. He’s a regular contributor to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His work also appears in a variety of national magazines and on websites including MTV.com, BlackBook, Esquire, Boy’s Life and Paste.
Jon can be heard on the airwaves as host of “The Pop Culture King Show,” a weekly radio program on WMLB in Atlanta. He picks a topic and weaves in celebrity interviews, fun and funky stories and related music. Exclusive celebrity guests run the gamut from rock ‘n’ roll icons including Gene Simmons of Kiss to screen legends such as Julie Andrews.
In addition to working as the publicist for House of the Rock, Waterhouse serves as the publicity writer for Rock ‘n’ Roll Hame of Fame act Van Halen.
Jon also wears a fake mustache as frontman for the “Smokey and the Bandit” classic country tribute band Burt & The Bandits.×