Practice, Learning, Friendship
Anything good and life-changing begins within small groups of people who trust one another. The goal of our Cohorts is to foster and equip spiritual leaders for new models of ministry and church. These small groups are communities of practice, learning and friendship… places for you and others to form meaningful relationships built on trust. Membership is open to rostered and non-rostered leaders in ELCA Regions 1 and 2.
The next round of Cohorts will begin in Fall 2022. We are currently recruiting interested individuals! Are you interested in participating in a group or serving as a leader? Complete the form below:
Organized around ELCA Synods in Regions 1 and 2
At Large Cohorts
We are seeking people to serve as cohort leaders for both synod and at large groups (open to people throughout Regions 1 and 2). Each leader will go through training, receive support and compensation, convene and lead a group of church leaders through a shared curriculum. The groups are meant to be brave spaces that provide opportunity and encouragement for risk taking, learning of leadership skills, and developing new approaches to ministry that contribute to the larger community.
New Cohort Groups will begin in Fall 2022. TLF is currently recruiting individuals to serve as Cohort Leaders. Training for leaders will begin in September.
Current & Previous Leaders
Abigail Cress-Orellano (she/her)
Born and raised in Seattle, WA but I have called both coasts my home in the last decade, and joke about bouncing between urban and rural contexts (Seattle, Gettysburg, Manhattan, and now NW Montana) – currently I serve as the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Libby, MT, accompanied by my husband and our year-old son. Participating in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission as a volunteer in East Jerusalem grounded me in the need to seek God’s love in the world – and helped me realize that it is a lot easier to do in community than on our own!
Amy currently serves at Bethel Lutheran Church on the Central Coast of California where she has been for the the last ten years. She has lived and worked in rural areas most of her life. Prior to ordained ministry, she took on a number of odd jobs in education and in the outdoors as she sought a path that would bring her passions together. She enjoys traveling, raising her children, hiking, mountain biking, and weekends watching Formula 1 racing with her family. Her husband is a state park ranger and their little household also includes his K-9, Storm. The two are an explosives detection team for the State of California. Beyond supporting her family and their many callings, Amy is often restless for adventures, reads too much, overthinks most things, and generally tries to listen but can’t resist a good debate. In ministry, she loves growing with the young people of her church, teaching the Bible in all contexts, and making beautiful worship with her congregation.
Anita Warner (she/her)
Pastor Anita R. Warner has served at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill, CA since 1994. She has a lifelong love of scripture, the community of faith, and the church’s music and arts, and is awed by the work of the Holy Spirit whenever these come alive in the hearts and minds of people. Cultivating strong lay leadership in the church and building justice-oriented local community through relationships have been priorities throughout her ministry. Anita’s science training came through The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Michigan Technological University, and Stanford University; and her seminary training was at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Drawing together the “one world” of creation care, scientific discovery, and the God who is all in all is her joy and delight. At the center of her proclamation is a life in Christ, through whom we are reconciled to God and entrusted with the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Anita has two adult children, Emma and Luke. Besides ministry, she enjoys time with family and friends, hiking, good food and drink, nature, travel, learning, and live music. She has recently begun scuba diving.
Born on the Island of Barbados, raised in Brooklyn, NY, Antoine has spent time in Higher Education, working in the office of Student life and as an Adjunct Math Professor, Licensed tax professional, High School Math teacher and football coach. Curious about faith, young adults and leading service learning trips, he has also spent 12 years serving the ELCA in various capacities, including Director of Campus Ministry, Engagement Coordinator, Worship Leader and Community Organizer. Most recently, his passion for organizational change and leadership has led him into consulting for organizations serious about anti-racism, innovation, young adult engagement and discipleship. Although his journey has been uncharted and filled with many life-giving opportunities, the one thing that keeps him inspired is how much healing can be found in community; when we approach each other with a posture of humility and walk away from our interactions with a sense of awe and wonder!
Becky Anderson (she/her)
Hello! I am Becky Anderson, child of God. I grew up in the Lutheran tradition, in the sunshine that is Southern California. I was surrounded by parents and grandparents who worked full time in the church and full time instilling in me that I was loved, captivating and covered with loads of grace. That foundation carries me daily in my role as CEO of the Anderson household, mother to two lower elementary kids and wife of almost two decades to “Pastor Matt.” California Lutheran University holds my alumni heart and I have kept connected for the past several years by serving on the Convocation, working to keep our local church community connected to the university and vice versa. My pastimes include reading Inspector Gamache mysteries, organizing all the papers my kids bring home, feeding our 3 cats and trying to create opportunities to gather with others. Conversation with depth, insights to life and stories shared are to me some of the best ways to do church.
Dan Carlson (he/him/they)
Hi, I’m Dan (he,him,they)! I’ll be right with you, I have to finish thinking about a thing…. Ok, done. I am a Pastor currently rostered in the Rocky Mountain Synod and serving in an interim capacity. I’m originally from Colorado and I’m really happy to be back in the cradle of the Rocky Mountains, but I’ve also enjoyed my time on the coast in California where I met my wife and started our family of 2 children together. I have served as a Pastor in 3 different congregations and as director of campus ministry in one setting. In between doing all the things that makeup the life of a Pastor, Husband and Father I like to play. I like to play inside, outside, sports, video games, with my children, on my bike… whatever distracts me from, and energizes me for, the hard work that we all are called to as the people of God in a broken world. I’m excited for this project, and all the growth, individually and collectively, that will come through this work. Maybe I’ll see you there!
DanaLee Simon is an ordained Minister, currently serving a non-stipendiary call as a Minister of Spiritual Life through the Rocky Mountain Synod. She is also a Certified Spiritual Director through the Spiritual Guidance Program at Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C. Spiritual direction is foundational to many aspects of her ministry. Along with connecting one on one with directees, she also teaches practices of Group Spiritual Direction. Over the past several years, the practice of self-compassion has become an important aspect of her ministry. She hosts a weekly self-compassion therapy group at a residential treatment program for high school girls and also enjoys leading retreats, classes, and practice groups around this topic. In her experience, it has been a beautiful tool for inviting more Love into the world. DanaLee lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and loves reading, getting out in Nature (ie. biking, hiking, cross country skiing), connecting with friends, writing, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two little boys.
Daniel’s bio is coming soon.
Darryl Kozak (he/him)
Darryl W. Kozak is a Rostered Minister of Word and Sacrament serving Peace Lutheran Church in Corona, CA, and Bethany Lutheran Church in Norco, CA. He is also a Level 2 Coach and LabCoach/trainer with the ELCA. He is certified as a Care for Creation Coach, an End of Life and Grief Coach, and an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. As an Associate (Oblate) of the Order of the Holy Cross, an Episcopal Benedictine community, Darryl has a deep passion for spiritual practices, and has practiced and taught centering prayer for over 25 years. He has also led retreats and workshops on prayer, walking the labyrinth, praying the daily office (the liturgy of the hours), and other spiritual disciplines. He enjoys a contemplative life grounded in Scripture and the writings of Christian mystics, especially the Desert Mothers and Fathers. He’s often said that two things get him up every day: God and music. Darryl is also a vocalist who has toured the USA and Europe as a featured soloist with various groups; he currently performs with a group in Palm Springs. He enjoys the outdoors and hiking, especially the desert. Darryl and his husband, Johnny, live in Corona, CA, with their family of many pets: a dog, three cats, a desert tortoise, and too many fish to count in multiple aquariums at home and at his church office.
Drew Stever (they/he)
Rev. Drew Stever (they/he) serves as Lead Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, CA. He came out as transgender one month before the 2016 presidential election and has found comfort in the freedom of the gospel ever since. Drew is passionate about empowering the LGBTQIA+ community, growing intersectional LGBTQIA-centric worship communities and experiences, and educating congregations about LGBTQIA+ issues, language, and experiences. Drew got his B.A. in religion from Hamline University and his Masters of Divinity from Luther Seminary, both in St. Paul, MN where he was born and raised. Drew now lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with his family and is an avid front yard birdwatcher.
Elizabeth Hood (she/her)
Elizabeth (she/her/hers) has served her congregation in Palo Alto, California as the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry for over 13 years. She loves hiking, camping and traveling around the world. She grew up in Hawai’i and is an alumna of Pacific Lutheran University. She also leads the Hospitality Team for the Extravaganza and serves on the planning team for the Western States Youth Gathering. Writing has become one her favorite new ways to connect to people and share her faith.
Evangeline (Yu-Jen) Dai
“Evangeline” (Yu-Jen) Dai was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to the US in 2014. She converted to Christianity in 2013 and became a Lutheran in 2015. To answer God’s call, she moved to Berkeley to attend Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary for the MDiv program in Fall 2018. She graduated recently and has been approved for Word and Sacrament ministry in ELCA, she is thrilled to serve in Thriving Leadership Formation. Evangeline has several connections in Region 1 and 2: the campus of PLTS dwells in Sierra Pacific Synod; her internship was in Southwest California Synod, and she also supports SWCA Synod for Chinese translation and Mandarin interpretation needs; she has been a guest preacher for Portland Taiwan Lutheran Church in Oregon Synod (online) and other churches in SWCA synod (in-person); her relatives live in Pacifica Synod. Embracing authentic diversity and advocating for marginalized groups are her passions, her concentration at seminary was Evangelism and Justice.
Hazel Salazar-Davidson (she/her/ella)
Rev. Hazel Salazar-Davidson (she/her/ella) immigrated from Costa Rica to the U.S. at the young age of three. She was raised in California, and was educated in the San Gabriel Valley. The last decade of her life was spent living in Alaska with her late husband and three beautiful children, where the whole family became Lutherans! Through the art of storytelling, she is passionate about cultivating brave and honest spaces where communities can talk about topics such as race, gender, privilege and grief. She is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and PLTS where she completed her Lutheran Year through TEEM. Pastor Hazel Salazar-Davidson lives in Thousand Oaks, CA with her family. In her spare time Hazel enjoys painting, drawing and working with clay.
Jamie Misner (she/her)
Jamie Misner was born and raised in Minnesota, and it could be said in the ELCA as well. After attending the University of New Hampshire on a skiing scholarship and spending many summers at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, she married her camp love, Philip Misner, who currently serves as Assistant to the Bishop of the Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA. Currently, she is a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Post Falls, Idaho. Besides being married to a pastor, working full time, a mom of 3 school age kids, she still finds time to run, swim, ski, and occasionally read through an entire book in a month.
Jen Rude (she/her)
Pastor Jen Rude (she/her/hers) finds joy and meaning in serving as the University Pastor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She enjoys accompanying students, faculty, and staff in learning and discovery, engaging big enough questions, and imagining a different way to live that is more rooted in compassion, justice, meaning and purpose. In an attempt to not try to do all the things, but to do the right things, Jen is practicing paying attention to discern what the Spirit is already up to and seeking to join that creative energy. Before coming to PLU Jen served as the program director for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a national support and advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ pastors and seminarians, and as an Outreach Minister with The Night Ministry in Chicago, working with street based young adults. In 2007, Jen was extraordinarily ordained at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Chicago and served there as Associate Pastor. After policy change at the national level removed barriers for partnered LGBTQ clergy, Jen was received onto the ELCA roster in 2011. Jen received her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and her B.A. from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. Jen enjoys hiking, cooking, brewing kombucha, the Enneagram, reading about minimalism/simple living, running, tending to her composting worms and exploring Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest with her spouse Deb Derylak.
Rev. Jennifer Shaw has been the Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Palm Desert, CA since 2016. She came to ministry with a wide range of vocational experience, including Managing Editor of the Fuller Seminary Writing Center, Manager of Lakeshore Learning Store in Ventura, CA, and Tour Guide at Universal Studios Hollywood. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Cal State, Northridge, a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Seminary, and a Certificate of Advanced Theological Studies from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Pastor Jen grew up in Fillmore, CA, and has lived in SoCal most of her life. Her mother, and two sisters and their families, also reside in Southern California. She enjoys showering her nephews and nieces with love, writing poetry, reading fiction and non-fiction, hiking local trails, a wide range of films and shows, and her work in ministry at St. John’s. She is passionate about sharing the good news of life in Jesus Christ.
Joan Beck (she/her)
God embraces me, and all of us, in grace extended through Jesus Christ. My primary identity is being God’s beloved. My vocation has been partnering with God in the world in my daily life. I’ve partnered with God in family life, education and other enjoyable pastimes, work (paid and unpaid), and relationships with friends, strangers, and enemies. I graduated from seminary in 1978, was rostered for Word and Sacrament ministry in 1984, and served congregations and campus ministries in Oregon, NW Washington, and Chicago. Since retiring in 2019, I discovered that as much as I love my husband John Beck, three adult children, reading, working with the Kaleidoscope Institute, baking/cooking, gardening, quilting, and walking my dog, I still am drawn to parish ministry enough to enter a part-time interim/transitional position with John for 2022-2023.
John Schraan (he/him/his)
Pastor John Schraan enjoys reading, sharing a meal with friends, playing trumpet, exploring nature, fishing in the family boat, playing video games, and spending time with his amazing wife (Katrine) and two awesome kids (Henry 13 and Lillian 9). He hopes to take up fly fishing in the near future. He is excited to be in the Stillaguamish Cluster of the Northwest Washington Synod serving Arlington and the people who gather at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.
Julie Webb (she/her)
Pr. Julie Webb is a Mercy Associate, an ordained Lutheran pastor, and the founder of Saint Francis Animal Communication & Healing. She received her M.Div. from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1999; since then, she has served in jail, hospital, and congregational settings. Her delight in contemplative spiritual practices spans decades and continents: it has been nurtured in places like Holden Village, the Community of Taizé, and Mercy Center (Burlingame). These days, in addition to serving Galilee Lutheran Church in Kelseyville, CA, part-time, she’s exploring a new aspect of her vocation: ministry that includes other-than-human animals and our relationship with them. Her recent studies include pet loss grief support, Intuitive Interspecies Communication (Animal Communication), Reiki (with humans and other animals), EFT/Tapping with Animals and their humans, and other approaches to healing.
Kim Gonia (she/her)
A practitioner of the scenic route, my life has been enriched by serving with the global church in Madagascar, as deacon for pastoral care in a congregation, as support staff at the RMS Office of the Bishop, parenting three now adult children, completing an MA at Iliff which led to an MDiv at LSTC, serving in three Lutheran and one Episcopal congregation since my ordination as pastor in 2011, and my new venture, Finding a Way Coaching.
I am currently pastor at Risen Lord Lutheran Church located in the foothills west of Denver in Conifer, Colorado. Risen Lord is a vibrant, multi-generational community of faith committed to being church, serving community, togetherness, and generosity. My call at Risen Lord is part-time. I am also lead trainer for Excellence in Leadership, a two year learning experience focused on building courageous, resilient, and faithful leaders for the church.
Running, walking with my spouse, making good food, reading voraciously, and occasionally knitting, all keep me sane.
Linda Bobbitt (she/her)
I am an ordained Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and a Certified Spiritual Director. Professionally, I began my career as a licensed counselor before moving into professional roles focused on collaborative leadership and outcome measurement. Before going to seminary, I served as Council President in my local congregation during troubled times. I then served as Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Synod for 8 years. I developed the Congregational Vitality Survey and worked for the ELCA Churchwide Organization for years helping congregations and their leaders shift their attention beyond sustainability (butts/bucks) to focus on deepening their relationships with God, one another, and the world. I’ve experienced the church and faith from both lay leader and clergy perspectives and my passion for lay leadership continues to form my ministry. As a spiritual director trained and certified by Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, I accompany and partner with pastors, lay leaders, and people of faith to actively and creatively listen to the Spirit, experiment and share what we are learning, so that we can all be transformed by our relationship with God for the sake of the world.
Pastor Boston has a demonstrated passion for ministry inside and outside the walls of the church and the halls of academia. A sacred phrase Pastor Boston keeps before her every day for her work in ministry; “Believe God’s Word for with God all things are possible”. She is the mother of two adult daughters, and the grandmother of five grandchildren. She is currently semi-retired serving Lutheran Church of the Master in Sacramento. Her former pastoral calls included congregations in Oakland, Ca, Jackson, Mississippi, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan. She is an alumnus of: San Francisco City College where she earned an AA Degree in Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University where she majored in Philosophy and Religion. She received her Master of Divinity Degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. She earned her Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, with the program focus on Church Leadership in a Post Modern Era. Pastor Boston also studied at the historic Interdenominational Theological Consortium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Logan McClean Strike (she/her)
I’m Logan McLean Strike, and I hail from Big Sky country, Billings, MT but now I call Oregon my home. In my spare time, I like to knit, cycle, go berry picking, walk on the beach and peer into tide pools. My spouse Paul and I like to play board games, cook, and try out new breweries together. We welcomed a new puppy named Beans to our home in the late summer of 2022. I work part-time as a chaplain and part-time as an ordained Lutheran pastor at Florence United Methodist Church. This work fuels my curiosity for the story that God is writing within and among us.
Rev. Maria Paiva serves as pastor at Saint John Lutheran Church, Gardena, since August 2016, a multicultural congregation in the Los Angeles area. She was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to this country almost 40 years ago. Her ministry has been developing and accompanying Latino ministries in Regions 1 and 2 in the ELCA but mainly at the Southwest California Synod. Her passion is to work for peace and justice for all. Maria graduated from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley and was ordained in May 2021. She is also an ELCA Coach and is working towards her certification with the International Coach Federation. Maria is a widow and has three adult children and three granddaughters.
La Pastora María Paiva sirve en la Iglesia Luterana San Juan, Gardena, desde Agosto del 2016, una congregación multicultural en el área de Los Ángeles. Ella nació en Lima, Perú e inmigro a este país casi 40 años atrás. Su ministerio ha sido de desarrollar y acompañar a ministerios latinos en las Regiones 1 y 2 en la ELCA pero mayormente en el Sínodo del Suroeste de California. Su pasión es trabajar por la paz y justicia para todos. María se graduó del Seminario Teológico Luterano del Pacifico y fue ordenada en Mayo 2021. Ella también es una Coach de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América y esta trabajando para la certificación con la Federación Internacional de Coaches. María es viuda y tiene tres hijos adultos y tres nietas.
Matt Anderson (he/him)
Matthew Anderson has served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Victorville, CA since 2013. A self-professed “Bible nerd,” a passion for the scriptures is what first drew him into ministry, and he still loves witnessing moments when people discover new dimensions of the love of God through the Bible. Pastor Matt is also a singer and songwriter, and before ordination he had the opportunity to play in a wide variety of venues, from bars and clubs in Hollywood to leading worship at churches, camps, and conferences. These days he spends most of his non-working hours with his wife Becky and their two children, Ellie (8) and Luke (5). Becky and Matt are both 2004 graduates of California Lutheran University. Though he grew up outside Milwaukee, Matt was born in northern Illinois and claims Chicago as his true hometown when it comes to sports fandom – especially his beloved 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
Meggan Manlove grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota and spent many summer days paddling canoes in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. She graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead and worked at Camp Christikon in Montana during the summers. Meggan spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Syracuse, NY and then earned her M.Div. from the Univ. of Chicago Divinity School. She served a parish in rural Western Iowa for six years and moved to Nampa, Idaho in 2010 to serve as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. Meggan loves local ministry collaborations and cares deeply about outdoor ministries. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Idaho, deepening friendships, reading fiction, and watching good movies.
Nancy Switzler (she/her)
Rev. Nancy Switzler is a second career pastor who learned the hard way that it’s easy to allow ministry to get in the way of good self-care during the first years of ministry. She then took up running (and other endurance sports) and has discovered the benefits of taking time for herself…and she sees this as essential holistic ministry. Nancy has now run multiple marathons (including the famed Boston Marathon) and coaches others to fitness. In 2022 she participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She is an ACC certified coach (International Coaching Foundation). She and her husband recently celebrated 34 years married. They have two adult children and a dog.
Nate Sutton (he/him)
Nate Sutton (he/him/his) has served as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in downtown Puyallup, Washington, since 2015. He graduated from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and was ordained in Augustana Chapel in 2013, the culmination of a winding journey to ministry leadership. His sense of call is rooted in a love for God’s reign of mercy and justice, embodied in part in congregational gathering around the word and sacraments, and expressed in part in the congregation’s response to God’s call to follow the crucified and risen Christ back out into the world for the sake of love. His areas of greatest interest include theology with an emphasis on theology of the cross, ministry leadership, worship and spiritual formation, ecclesiology, language and other arts, political economy, and history with an emphasis on the history of racism and the movement for racial justice. Prior to seminary, he taught sixth grade English and history in South Los Angeles and traveled with a children’s theatre troupe in North and South Dakota and Minnesota. He shares his life with Bethany, a mental healthcare provider, and together they raise two children, ages 7 and 3.
Regina Q. Banks
Regina Q. Banks serves as the Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy California. She is a proud alumna of Valparaiso University School of Law and is based in Sacramento California. In her spare time she works on several social justice issues including housing security and ending the corrosive influence of money in politics. Her lapdog Ender also brings her great joy.
Sandra Rudd (she/her)
I will soon be entering my 14th year of ordained ministry. That is pretty amazing considering it never really entered my head to BE an ordained minister. It was someone else’s idea – God, friends, fellow seekers…. Anyway, it just became easier to say “yes” to the call than “no” and believe me I was pretty good at saying no. This is my third career. Previously I worked in video production (all the behind the scenes technical stuff of news and documentaries), and next I worked in bookstores – serving customers and all their interests and demands. What I have found in this very unique job, (as well as the others) is that most people are kind, hard-working, and really just seeking acceptance of their true selves. Also, everybody wants to thrive including me. I thrive when I am around art and beauty. I believe that thriving is made up of equal parts curiosity, fear, boldness, humility, gratitude, and beauty. I am sure there is much more, and that we will discover together.
Valerie Carlson (she/her/they)
This is Valerie (she/her/they). She is a pastor, mama, runner, mess. She is married to her co-facilitator, Daniel Carlson and loves him a lot. If she weren’t married to him she would have all the shelter dogs and cats in a 100 mile radius. She is clearly heart-centered and not head-centered in that way and that’s ok with her. She serves as the solo pastor at American Lutheran Church in Grand Junction, CO. ALC is her third call, the first outside of CA, and she misses the ocean every single day but loves the fierce commitment to following Jesus she has found in the people gathered in Christ’s name in the shadow of these Rocky Mountains. 9 years into ordained ministry, she chooses to no longer be vague or quiet about injustice to keep the peace and she regrets not having made this choice earlier.