Augustana Lutheran Church Staff

Rev. Dr. W.J. Mark Knutson, Pastor.

What brought You to Augustana? God’s call and the possibility of growing a multicultural congregation that is unafraid to step out in faith on the important issues of our day for the well being of all.

What inspires you?                                 A diverse group of people (reflecting   the nations of the earth) working   together for a vision for the   wholeness of humanity bigger than   ourselves.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?     I surf and boogey board at Cannon Beach whenever I can. I can stay in the ocean for hours.

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                               Not new but always fresh with each   day I am reminded just how good   God is,

how beautiful the human family is and how important it is to have God continually shaping and recreating us in love.?                               

What is your biggest challenge?   Discerning what the cutting edge issues of justice, peace, diversity, equity, reconciliation and inclusion are going to be and helping to position the church to be ready and relevant to be proactive with others as a voice of conscience and a movement in action always ready to step out in faith to do what is right.  

Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson has been Pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon since December 1995. Augustana is a growing multicultural congregation in the heart of the city, now in its 110th year. Since then, Augustana has grown from 243 members in 1995 to an 800-member congregation that is also home to several non-profits including the Community Alliance of Tenants, Familias en Accion, the Society for Haitian Arts, Culture and Social Support, Irvington Cooperative Preschool, the Well Arts Institute, and the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice.

Over the past 30 years, Pastor Knutson has served on many local and national boards and committees, and has keynoted and conducted workshops in a variety of settings. Mark completed in 2015 his term as Chair of the Northwest Health Foundation Board, and is past Chair of the Board of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and of Familias en Accion. He is on the Steering Committee for the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform. He was one of three statewide petitioners for the Freedom to Marry Ballot Initiative, and is an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow.

In the January 2012 issue of Portland Monthly magazine, Mark was named one of the 50 Most Influential Portlanders. The issue noted his “vigorous activism” against war and in favor of immigration reform and gay rights. His congregation shares his dedication to these and other social causes that put our Christian faith into action in our world.

Rev. Knutson was given the Heart of Sanctuary Award by the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice in 2015; named Ecumenist of the Year in 2009 by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon; Distinguished Pastor by Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley in 2009; the Fortenza Award by Desarrollo Integral de la Familia for service in the Latino community in 2014; the Drum Major for Justice Award in 2015 as a member of the AMA Police Reform Steering Committee; and one of the 50 Most Influential Portlanders by Portland Magazine in 2012. Prior to coming to Augustana, he served as the National Director of Youth Ministries in Chicago for the 5.3 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and has a M. Div. from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry Program at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D. C.

Prior to his call to Augustana, Mark was Director for Youth Ministries for the 5.3 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its central offices in Chicago. He was Director of a 21-member national board of the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO), Multicultural Advisory Committee, and Council of Synod Presidents. The LYO was a major force in lifting up young leaders of many cultural backgrounds to promote greater diversity in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Now over 100 years old, the organization represents 1 million high school students, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 12-25. As Director of ELCA Youth Ministries, Mark coordinated hunger, justice, and peace education for youth throughout the United States and the Caribbean, and was a liaison to major youth service agencies throughout the United States as well as to the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Mark is married to Tamrah and they have a son, Brandon, a graduate of USC who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Joyce Kindschuh

Administrator Assistant 
 

What brought You to Augustana?       I was invited by a neighbor girl to attend a youth group event, felt very welcomed and was invited back, so I connected through the youth group.

What inspires you?                        Poetry, music, light and shadow, kindness.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
That there are many things people would be surprised to know about me.

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                 That one is very fluid and one is very   large.

What is your biggest challenge? Answering questions like these. No really. 

Andrew Fort

Contemporary Worship Coordinator
 
Andrew Fort has been the Music Director of Augustana’s Contemporary Service since 2013. He directs the choir, leads the band, and sometimes fills in as organist for the Classical Service. He studied music at USC and has been involved with Tucker Maxon School since 2004, where he currently teaches music.
 

What brought You to Augustana?       I came to Augustana around 2013 when we were looking for a church with a good
Youth Program.

What inspires you?                    Bringing people together through creativity.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I teach music to children with hearing loss.

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                 Even the most dire-seeming situation can turn out positive results.

What is your biggest challenge?  Time management!

Rebecca Dodson

Education Coordinator

Rebecca Dodson has been a member of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland Oregon since 2006. She joined the staff as “Education Coordinator” in 2016. She also leads a Women’s Prayer and Study weekly group and is one of the Tai Chi instructors at Augustana.               She holds a B.S in Business Administration from Portland State University, has worked at Intel Corporation, run her own marketing consulting business and loves to spend time with her two grandchildren. 

 

What brought You to Augustana?       I moved into the neighborhood and wanted a church that was telling and showing the love of Christ to the community.

What inspires you?                     People inspire me. The ordinary kindness and service of regular people make such a difference in the world.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
That I teach Tai Chi, Moving for Better Balance.

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                        I have learned that God loves            surprises. I never thought I would be  teaching children, but God had other ideas for me, so here I am on staff as the Christian Education coordinator.

What is your biggest challenge?  Saying no, because I love to help and love so many things and people.    

Jenny Schmidt

Gifts for Ministry Coordinator

Jenny Schmidt has been a member of Augustana since 1999. She later joined the staff
as “Gifts for Ministry Coordinator” — which involves helping members to discern how they can best use their gifts and talents in service to Augustana and the greater Portland community.  Jenny loves organizing events that build community and fulfill the mission to which we are called. As a volunteer herself, she sings with the Augustana contemporary band and choir and is involved with the worship and music committee and the advocacy team.
Jenny holds a BA in Psychology, English and Education from Duke University, and an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). She has worked as a high school and preschool teacher, has served as the president of several non-profits, and
has written several ESL textbooks. She loves backpacking, singing and Zumba!

What brought You to Augustana?        I moved into the neighborhood and wanted a church that was telling and showing the love of Christ to the community.

What inspires you?                           Our congregation’s willingness to step out in faith and tackle tough issues, under
the bold leadership of our pastor, inspires me daily!

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                    God’s love is deeper than I can even imagine.

What is your biggest challenge?     To breathe and trust when things     get  tough.

Marilyn Keller

Jazz/Gospel Worship Coordinator,
Youth Coordinator.

Vocal Instrument @mtk music  
http://www.marilyntkeller.com 
dapipes@aol.com
 
Marilyn Keller has been Music Director for the Gospel Jazz Worship at Augustana since 1991. She has been the Interim Youth Advisor since September of 2020. 
Marilyn’s roots in Gospel, R&B, Soul, Jazz and Blues music are deep. Her formative training in the Performing Arts at MHCC and on the International stage helped build a career that spans 40 years.
Marilyn is serving on the Board of Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble and The Portland Symphonic Choir to lend contemporary ideas and a voice of diversity and equity to both organizations.
She is an Adjunct Professor of Vocal Jazz Improvisation at PSU and teaches Vocal Technique privately.
 

What brought You to Augustana?        I came to Augustana in 1991- to provide Vocals for the Jazz Worship Service instituted by Pastor Mitch Jones.

What inspires you?                          The habitation of The Holy Spirit inspires Me- I can do ALL things!

What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I have worked several blue-collar jobs- I can operate heavy-lift machinery, overhead cranes, pneumatic tools and can handle high power pressure washers!

What have you learnt about your faith and God recently?                NOTHING can separate Me from the Love of God! 

What is your biggest challenge?    

Wally Krueger

Classical Worship Coordinator, Organist, Choir Director.  

I describe myself simply as Lutheran Musician and Educator, a student of the Lutheran musical heritage.   Also, a performer, composer, arranger, and former music professor at Concordia University, Portland.    At Augustana for about 5 years, I have the great

opportunity to bring forth classics for organ and choir, while also addressing new avenues of praise.  The enrichment of worship through musical arts is a particular joy to me. 
When not working on music, I am out back working on my Garden Railroad.
 

 

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