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TLC Staff

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Elise Pokel

Lead Pastor 

I grew up in Fargo, ND and attended Concordia College, majoring in Religion and History. I worked in a pastry shop after college and delighted in it! After a dear friend of mine died by suicide, I realized that I needed to learn more about caring for my friends and family. I attended seminary at Luther and was ordained in 2017. I served Trinity Lutheran and First Presbyterian in Crookston, MN for two years and then Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis from 2019-2023. 

I am married to the most hilarious and faithful man, Andy Pokel. He serves as worship & music director at Woodlake Lutheran. We have our son, Fred (3), who is the joy of our lives. We all enjoy music, singing, dancing, reading, and going to museums. We are expecting our second son in a few months. 

As a pastor, I enjoy community-building, preaching, teaching, caring for families in milestone moments, and renewing or building good governance structures and policies. 

Email: pastorelise@tlcmn.com

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Paul Rohde

Rev. Dr. Pastor of Care Ministry

Pastor Paul is a native of South Dakota and has served parishes in his home state and New Ulm, MN.  From 2001-2020, he was campus pastor at Augustana University in Sioux Falls.  He began service at TLC in March, 2022.  He and his wife, Susan, are parents of 3 grown daughters, grandparents to 4 brilliant and beautiful children, and enjoy travel, camping, concerts, plays, hiking, biking, backgammon and cribbage.

Email: PastorPaul@tlcmn.com

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Erica Larson

Deacon, Director of  Children, Youth & Family Ministry

I grew up in Glyndon, MN and attended St. Olaf College, majoring in Psychology, Family Studies, and Women’s Studies. I completed Tentmakers Youth Ministry Leadership Training fresh out of college, and served as Youth Director at Oak Knoll Lutheran in Minnetonka for 15 years. After leaving Oak Knoll, I received my Master’s Degree in Congregational Ministries and Leadership from Luther Seminary, with an emphasis in ministry in daily life. For 12 years I served as the Director of Faith Formation at Lake Nokomis Lutheran in Minneapolis.

For several years, I was the e-News editor for Cherish All Children, a ministry that equips congregations with educational tools and resources to prevent child sexual exploitation. While on sabbatical in 2021, I had the privilege of working with National Director Joy McElroy to write a four-session Safe & Healthy Relationships Youth Guide.

I began my joy-filled journey at TLC in September of 2022, and can honestly say that I’ve never been happier in my life! I love the families and children at TLC, am energized by our youth, feel uplifted by our beautiful worship services and strong preaching, and am thrilled to lead chapel for our Early Learning Center children on a regular basis. I serve on the Board of Directors for  ELC, and am passionate about continuing the strong partnership between TLC and ELC.

I am usually reading at least two books at any given time, love being with friends and family, look forward to snuggling with my cat Simon at the end of the day, and occasionally dabble in Bible art journaling and watercolor painting. If I could, I would travel the globe!

Email: elarson@tlcmn.com

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Susan Wold Rohde

Interim Music & Worship Director

After living in Sioux Falls for nearly 30 years, we moved to the Twin Cities primarily to be closer to family.  Since then we’re delighted that two daughters and their families now call  Minneapolis home! After worshiping at TLC only one time, I was asked to interview for an interim position on the Worship/Music Team. That was in January 2022 and I am still here. I work closely with the pastors, worship team and the choir.

 

The lake and farm country of Otter Tail County, Underwood, MN is my childhood home. I attended Concordia College, majoring in Elementary Education and Music. My master’s degree is in Guidance and Counseling from SDSU. While I have held leadership roles in the church all of my adult life, I was officially ordained a deacon in 2013.   Most recently I served as a worship leader in lake Preston, SD, Sioux Falls, SD and New Ulm, MN.

 

When I’m not at church, I enjoy walking,  hiking (especially in the mountains), cross-country skiing, cooking, being with family and caring for grandchildren, going to plays and concerts, entertaining and traveling.

Email: swoldrohde@tlcmn.com

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Carmen Englert

Organist/Accompanist

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Phetsamone Ekholm

Pianist

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Mary George

Bell Choir, Praise & Worship Coordinator

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Michelle Reber

Church Administrator

I was warmly welcomed into this beautiful faith family in October 2016.  Growing up in Eagan, I relished our trips across the river to the GEM store in Bloomington.  I graduated from The College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN, my father’s home town, with a degree in Business Administration, focusing on Management, and a minor in Art.  From years of homeownership, I have learned many skills in the trades, which have come in handy for the facilities management side of my responsibilities here at TLC.  When not at TLC, I enjoy walking, learning to tap dance, the daily Sudoku & crossword puzzles, dining out with friends, and spending time with my family. 

Email: mreber@tlcmn.com

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Brian Simonson

Church Communications

I grew up in Red Wing, MN and moved to the metro area in 2010. I attended St. Cloud State and The University of Phoenix graduating with a business degree. I currently am co-owner (with my wife, Suzy) of our two businesses - Stroke2Success (Sales Coaching) and Blue Skies Legacy (Custom Handmade Stuffed Hearts made from Up-Cycled material). Seeing people give their Heart2hearts a squeezer hug is the best knowing it was made from their loved one's clothing.

 

I am married to the most passionate and giving woman, Suzy. We tied the knot at one of our favorite places - Mexico. Knox, our son, is the best thing that has happened to us. He is truly a blessing as our Rainbow baby! We love camping, traveling and cookies! 

 

I am SO excited to bring my skills and knowledge to TLC and help make it the best it can be!

bsimonson@tlcmn.com

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Pastor Elise Pokel

Funeral and Wedding Coordinator

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Barb Wigstadt

Director, Early Learning Center

I grew up in Minnetonka, graduating as part of the first class from Lindberg High School more years ago than I would like to count.  I always wanted to be a teacher and I went to Augustana College to earn a degree in Deaf Education and Secondary Social Studies.  Thirteen days after graduation I married my wonderful husband, Dave. We spent our first year of marriage attending a Bible college in Dallas Texas.

 

We moved to Hibbing MN for 13 years where I was the teacher of the Deaf in the school system for four years.  After losing my second son, I started going into homes to help families learn how to communicate with their deaf and hard of hearing preschoolers.  While doing this I started working on my M.ED. in Communicative Disorders, one class at a time, driving to Duluth.  Our church bought a child care center and asked me to be the Director.  I added Preschool Education to my M.Ed. work, still driving to Duluth one class a quarter (where were on-line classes at that time?). 

 

In 1989, when my husband felt it would be best for our family to move from Hibbing to Minneapolis, I applied for the position of Director of TLC Daycare Center.  Seven days later I was offered it. I have been the director here since September 1989.  Over the years we have put in a playground (1990), added a toddler classroom (1990) became Nationally Accredited (1992), changed our name to TLC Early Learning Center (1993), added an infant classroom (1994), started a private kindergarten class (1999), was voted on as a ministry of Transfiguration Lutheran Church (2001), bought two buses (2002 – with many changing over the years) and put in a new handicapped accessible playground (2021).  We were able to stay open over the COVID crisis and have dedicated long term staff.

 

My hobbies include reading (my goal is 52 books/year), history – which can be seen in my book choices and travel destinations, travel and photography.  I’ve led the TAC Photo Club for over two decades, encouraged all my staff to take pictures to share throughout the building and digitally with families and displayed my own work.

 

God holds my first and foremost affection, followed by my family—among them Dave (my husband), my son Joel (tragically lost to cancer in 2021), his wife Alli, my daughter Suzy and her husband Brian, as well as my younger daughter Krista. Yet, it's my grandson, Knox, who effortlessly captures my heart. His presence at TLC-ELC adds an extra layer of delight to our moments together.

Email: bwigstadt@yahoo.com

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Molly Schuh

Finance Team 

I have been a part of the TLC community my entire life - my family has been part of TLC since the beginning in the gym at Westwood! My favorite thing about Transfiguration is how welcoming the members/congregation are. 

 

I grew up in Savage, MN and went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where I received my Bachelors in Accounting. I currently work full-time for Dorsey & Whitney, and part-time on the financial team at TLC. I’ve been part of the TLC financial team as counting supervisor since 2015. I also volunteer with Confirmation & Youth Group on Wednesday nights, and occasionally as a communion assistant on Sundays. 

 

When I’m not at church, I enjoy (in no particular order): spending time with family and friends, running, visiting breweries, playing PickleBall, knitting & cross-stitching, relaxing with my cat Fitzgerald, and watching tv/movies.

Email: mschuh105@gmail.com

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