So here we are - The Ministry Team @ Hope! Below is a little bit about each of us. If you have any questions about the ministries that we lead or about what we wrote in our bios, feel free to email us directly. You are also welcome to call the office at 248-553-7170.

  • Rob Zahn

    senior Pastor

    Email

    Hello! About me? Well, how about we do this in sound bites (feel free to ask questions later): born in California, raised in Minnesota/N. Dakota by my mom, B.A. in Music from Concordia College, MN, seminary both at Wartburg Theological in Iowa and Luther in Minnesota earning my M.Div., served as Youth Pastor in Las Vegas, NV, thanks to my buddy Mike I played a bit with The Second City Comedy Club, a professor at Waldorf College, a mission Pastor in Wisconsin and now here at Hope in Michigan, currently doctoral work at George Fox. I play a few instruments (started the violin in 1st grade) and played guitar in a band or two, been to 15 countries, husband to Brenda, father to my three AWESOME girls…questions?


    Most Embarrassing Moment: 1st job leading a staff activity, I’m in the middle of a circle of 20 church staff people…and fog horn went off (gas)….oh my


    Verse: Matthew 5:44 “…love your enemies…” - I believe the gospel really IS that radical!

  • Rebecca Truland

    PASTOR OF CONGREGATIONAL LIFE

    EMAIL

    I was born and raised in upstate New York, where I could see the Hudson River from my childhood bedroom. In high school I participated in drama club and swing choir while also acting as my synod’s Lutheran Youth Organization secretary. After graduating from college with a degree in English, I spent a year living in London, England serving at a youth retreat center. When I moved back to the States, I worked at Albany Medical Center Hospital in their education department as an administrative assistant. 


    In 2013 I moved to Chicago to begin attending seminary. After serving an internship at two congregations in rural Nebraska, I graduated in 2017 and began my first call at Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Burlington, NJ. In 2020, the Holy Spirit swept me along to the metro Detroit area and I’ve been so excited to get involved in what God is doing in Michigan! 


    In my free time, I’m a big fan of musical theater (my current favorite is Hadestown), art museums, and sewing. I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking casually but enthusiastically. 


    Favorite Bible Verse: Micah 6:8 -- “What does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

  • chris veres

    PASTOR

    EMAIL

    Hello! 


    I was born and raised in Corning, N.Y. and I have lots of Corning Ware dishes to show for it! I graduated from SUNY at Geneseo with a BS in Elementary Education. My husband Bob and I married shortly after college and found our first home in State College, PA while he worked on his Masters at Penn State. That wasn’t our plan but we both felt God had intervened and provided for us. Hurricane Agnes had devastated our hometown of Corning less than two weeks after our wedding, throwing much into uncertainty. Through a series of surprising events we were off to Pennsylvania. From there Ford Motor Co. brought us to Michigan where we have been ever since.


    Some would say I’m new here at Hope, but really I am just coming full circle and have landed here again. We first joined Hope six months after it’s inception. I like to say we were among the early converts. Hope was our church home for many years as we raised our three, now adult children and served in a variety of volunteer positions. We never fully left Hope but my ministry path toward ordination led us to a variety of places and churches in Chicago, Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe Woods and Livonia.


    I am officially retired. However as all pastors will tell you, there is no retirement in ministry. I am delighted to be once again using my gifts for ministry at Hope, South Lyon and through Stephen Ministry.


    I have also found that there is no real “spare time” in retirement. It’s time happily spent traveling, gathering with family and friends, reading, learning and loving. Did I mention that we have been blessed with five amazing grandsons? It’s a true joy to spend my “spare moments” with them.

     

    Favorite Bible Verse: 2 Cor. 2:14 - “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”


    Maybe this is my favorite Bible Verse: Romans 15:13 - “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

  • Donnie Lehmann

    MINISTER OF WORSHIP TECHNOLOGY

    email

    I was born on an Air Force base in Alaska, and I then made my way to Kenosha, and could not think of any other place I would like to call home. There are four things that I love: God, Family, Youth Ministry, Sprint Car Racing and Food.  Most would say the order changes depending on how hungry I am. All kidding aside, serving is what drives me. Having been on multiple mission trips throughout the world and being involved in youth ministry, it is safe to say that I have found my true calling in serving the church. I am looking forward to helping the youth groups at Hope grow in their knowledge and understanding of the love that God has for them and how to share that love with all people. I also want to teach youth how to eat 26 tacos in one lunch sitting.


    Most embarrassing moment: I embarrass my wife on a daily basis, does that count?


    Favorite Bible Verse: Job 19:21-29… epic stuff……And Jesus in the boat sleeping…all of us need naps, even Jesus

  • Troy Nelson

    Minister of traditional worship

    Email

    Hello, everyone! I was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa and I am a diehard Hawkeye fan! Go Hawks! 


    Growing up in the Lutheran church, I had a great time singing, leading the liturgy and playing trombone during my childhood, as well as participating in high school youth group. I earned my B.A. in Music and my teaching certificate at Luther College in Decorah, IA. I started my teaching and church music career in Iowa, serving at United Church of Christ Church. In 1993, I moved to Michigan, began my teaching and church music career in Michigan, and got married the following year. I earned my Master’s of Education in Curriculum, Instruction and Leadership at Oakland University in 1998. Since my move to Michigan, I have served the families in the Clarenceville School District as well as the St. John Lutheran Church community in a variety of capacities over the years. 


    Most important to me is my amazing family - husband to Kari and proud dad to Haley, Hannah, and Ryan! 


    Embarrassing moment: Hmm… hard to pick just one, but I’ll go with one from high school: I was asked to MC a community band concert at the last minute. Translation: I was reading the script for the first time during the concert…a script that was written by adults, for adults, with jokes and innuendos to match. To say it fell flat or worse is an understatement…


    Favorite Bible Verse: As the traditional music guy, I think I’ll go with a hymn, “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” or “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” depending on the day. All that to say, I believe deeply in Martin Luther’s quote, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.”

  • KELLE SHEPHERD-BHAVSAR

    MINISTER of modern worship

    EMAIL

    Hello! Well, I was born and raised in a very charismatic household which included three generations of pastors. My grandmother, father, mother, and brother were all called to Ministry. While chasing my divine call, I felt drawn to Oral Roberts University. When finances ran out, I could not continue my education at that time. After returning home from O.R.U., I met my husband and father of my two children. After a tumultuous relationship, I prayerfully decided to divorce. 


    Throughout my years of walking with God, my heart, mind and soul were restored and I finally came to recognize my truest person as a member of the LGBT+ community. I met the love of my life, Mita P. Bhavsar through a job opportunity and our friendship grew into a healthy relationship of over 10+ years. In 2015, after same gender marriages were approved by the Supreme Court we were married in a small office ceremony on February 7, 2017. We hope to have a big official ceremony one day!


    Ministerially, I have been blessed with the gift of teaching and singing that would lead me into various congregations. I have sung with many choirs and congregations including Willow Creek, Kensington, Northridge, Higher Dimensions and O.R.U.’s Souls A’ Fire, and even auditioned for “The Voice.”


    Academically, I have achieved my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rochester College. Additionally, I graduated from Lawrence Technological University where I received my Master of Science in Global Operations and Project Management. Currently, I have been pursuing my Licensed Lay Minister credential from the ELCA Southeastern Synod with an anticipated graduation in Spring of 2022. 


    I have worked with many large religious projects and organizations from Detroit, Chicago, and even Los Angeles. I have assisted in coordinating the JAM Youth Conference which drew 8,000 students to the Arie Crown Theater in downtown Chicago. Through this opportunity, I worked with nationally known ministers such as Bishop Noel Jones, Bishop Iona Locke (RIH), Pastor Stephen Munsey and notable celebrities such as Chris Tucker, T.K. Carter, and DeLeon Richards. Additionally, I was able to single-handedly work with Creflo Dollar Ministries coordinating citywide evangelistic activities. From 2010-2015, I was the Youth Pastor for NextGen Detroit, on the north end of Detroit. NextGen is a student ministry established to ensure teens grow spiritually, academically, and socially. My most recent project is Rebel-Luthernary TV, a video podcast, where I explore social justice projects around the city and suburbs of the greater Detroit area.

  • Christian Avila

    MINISTER OF MODERN WORSHIP

    EMAIL

    Hello Everyone!

    There is definitely a lot to learn about me, but I'll try to sum it up as best as I can!

    I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area to 1st generation Filipino parents who immigrated here in the early 90s. Growing up mainly in Warren, MI, I went to Warren Mott High School for primary education and concurrently studied Piano and Music Theory with the Royal Conservatory of Music out of Canada as an external student. I first started serving the church with the Spirit of Love Charismatic Catholic Community, which was a Filipino religious organization that focused on faith outreach and serving various churches as a traveling choir. I am so fortunate to have been blessed with musical talent and I'm very excited to continue using these gifts to serve as a music minister.


    Throughout my years of service, I've played piano and served at several faith communities/churches such as Our Lady of Grace (Warren, MI), Amazing Grace (Warren, MI), St. Rene Goupil (Sterling Heights, MI), and Guardian Angels (Clawson, MI). My experiences at these different and diverse communities have helped me develop into the musician I am today through the love of service to the Lord.

    Academically, I received my Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Wayne State University where I focused my studies in Biomaterials and Injury Biomechanics. I currently work as a Product Engineer at The Woodbridge Group in Troy, MI where I lead product development and launch for automotive interior components and seating systems.

    Finally, I am a foodie, so I am very easily swayed with anything yummy. Send your new restaurant recommendations and recipes this way...or just feed me - I'll be happy either way.

    Most Embarrassing Moment: Honestly, I'm easily embarrassed so there are too many to count. 

    Favorite Bible Verse - Joshua 1:9. Gotta love that guarantee that God is with us wherever we go!

  • allan Pfitzenmaier

    Director of Operations

    email

    Hi, I am Allan Pfitzenmaier and I have been a member of Hope since its inception in 1977. During the majority of that time, I have owned and managed a consulting firm serving the regulated medical products industries and have started and managed a number of other associated businesses, including a successful staffing firm and a software development organization. In 2010, a partner and I started a Contract Manufacturing Organization to produce liquid injectable drugs, particularly new cancer therapies.  Once this operation was up and running, I decided that it was time to step back and enjoy my life and take things a little easier.


    God and my wife, however, had other ideas. When it became apparent that the former Director of Operations was looking to move on, a number of people, including my wife, suggested that I should consider taking on that position.  Absent a total conspiracy, it seemed odd to me that at least 3 people independently thought I should do this. I concluded that it must be a call from God, and I had no other choice but to accept it.


    I have been married to Francine for 44 years and we have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.  I am a BIG fan of the University of Michigan.  


    Most embarrassing moment: I am too embarrassed to say.


    Favorite Bible Verse: My confirmation verse John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


  • sue audet

    OFFICE MANAGER

    email

    Hi Everyone! Guess this is where I tell you my life story in 30 seconds or less. Here it goes ...


    My Family:  I am the extremely proud mom of Ali (shoutout to taking the cool bio photo). I have an amazing husband, Pat, who has been my partner in crime since the '80s (wow on that!) and we have a big, goofy goldendoodle named Leeloo (if you're into SciFi think The Fifth Element). Pat and I have lived in Farmington Hills since 1994 and before that we were both born and raised Downriver (if you don’t know where that is, stop by and we’ll chat). 


    My Qualifications:  My qualifications ... not sure anyone is ever really qualified for a job but I do have a B.S. in Computer Science and Information Systems from the University of Michigan, I’m really good at math (algebra is my favorite; calculus not so much), and I LOVE spreadsheets! I've worked for Lockheed Martin (as a programmer, a systems analyst, and an Engineer in Charge), Complete Business Solutions Inc. (as an Account Manager), Canine College (I WAS the 'Student Services Department'), and now at Hope since 2018.


    Call me at the office or better yet stop in to chat ... I’d love to see you!

     

    Most Embarrassing Moment:  I try NOT to have any of these ... they’re quite honestly ... embarrassing!


  • reji musso

    worship admin

    email

    I was born in Columbia, SC, graduated from high school there and went to a small Lutheran liberal arts college, Newberry College in SC. I have 2 amazing daughters, Katie (in Denver, Colorado) who has two daughters, 14 and 9 and Nancy (New Hudson, MI) who has 1 son and another on the way. Being a mother was my very best job. Being a grandmother has been life’s greatest gift. I stopped working in 2014 and found myself retiring in MI, which was NOT part of the plan. However, my daughter, Nancy, and her husband, Chris, asked me to come to MI to take care of the new baby, Finley, who is now 3. This was not a hard decision. As a lifelong Lutheran with a few pit stops in Methodist, Celtic Catholic and Episcopalian churches (not all at the same time), I was looking at ELCA Lutheran churches within a 10 mile radius of our Novi home. Hope was the first church I visited and after many Sundays elsewhere, it is where I came back. I spent my professional life in some sort of customer service area with an emphasis on project management and process development and had a lot of wonderful experiences. I have not missed working at all. I love retirement. And yet, here I am. Working in the church office is not like work. It is so nice to be able to share some of my skills without all of the pressure. For me it’s a dream “job”. 


    Most Embarrassing Moment: Seriously only one? I could go on for days. Suffice it to say, that recently it would be that I seem to cry every time I “read” in church. From the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (how could he?) to the impending death of Isaac at the hands of his father, Abraham (what parent would ever concede to such a command?) brought tears. 


    Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,” is the way I greet each morning quickly followed by Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…”. These verses remind me to embrace the gift of a new day and be reminded that I need to be quiet and still if I am to hear God.

  • Lori Sawyer

    Receptionist

    EMAIL

    Hi!  I am new to Hope and I am enjoying every minute of it! I’m married to my best friend, Dave, and he makes me laugh every day and takes me on my favorite daily activity – a long walk. I graduated from the University of Michigan and worked for Microsoft for 10 years. Consulting, TwoBelles, Canine College and LOTS of volunteering came next, and most recently I was the volunteer coordinator for CARES of Farmington Hills. But the best job I have is being Mom to Rachel and Erin. Rachel and her fiancé Dan live in Chicago and Erin is a senior at MSU. 


    Most Embarrassing Moment: Hmmm, there are so many, and I turn red very quickly!

  • Brenda Soderlund

    bookkeeper

    email


  • Alicia Herrle

    Sunday school coordinator

    email

    Hello! I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area and recently lived in Tulsa Oklahoma for five years. My husband Sean and I were married at Hope in 2013 and we have really enjoyed attending again since we moved back. I’ve been lucky to be at home with our two rambunctious boys and two very fat cats for these past couple of years; before that I have a long history of working retail. I enjoy baking and decorating cakes and am big on DIY projects.  I’m excited to be a part of the Hope team!


    Most Embarrassing Moment: When first married, Sean went to the freezer for some ice cream. Upon opening the container of Neapolitan he was surprised to find no trace of chocolate.  I had very strategically carved out every bit from the strawberry and vanilla earlier… But hey, it was delicious. 

    Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine.”


  • Tami salisbury

    food coordinator

    Greetings!


    I’m supposed to tell you my life history.  The first thing you should know about me is I love hugs and laughter. 


    I promise to leave out a lot of details as I was born and raised in Northwest Detroit 74 years ago. I went to public schools until it was deemed by my parents to send me to a private girls school, Liggett, with several other girls from our Episcopal Church. My dad hated boys. I always wondered why. LOL. Actually it was great fun and we still celebrate class reunions. 


    My next few years were spent at Eastern Michigan University where I received my Bachelors Degree in Education and Social Science. I taught 3rd grade in Wayne/Westland for four years. I was married in 1966.


    My marriage of 15 years ended leaving me with two beautiful children, Michael and Joy. I will tell you more about them a little later.


    After the divorce and my fathers’ death, I went into the family manufacturing business my father started in 1942. I became president of the company in 1991.  In the spring of 2003, we closed the business as we could no longer compete with foreign competition.


    I never wanted to be the boss again. I just wanted to work for someone else. I was burned out. I decided to follow my creative side and went to work for LazyBoy Galleries in the fall of 2003 where I became assistant manager within 6 months ... so much for not being a boss.


    The next job was at Greenpath as a bankruptcy counselor. I decided to retire when my grandson Mikey was born in 2008. 


    My son Michael is married to wonderful Sandi and has one fabulous son Mickey who is now 11 years old and in Middle school. They live in Sonoma, California.


    Joy (who passed away in March of 2018) gave me four wonderful grandchildren. Laural will be 21 in February and is studying to be a Vet Tech. Kylie and Sean (twins) will graduate high school this June. Kylie is planning on going to the police academy. Sean is going to pursue engineering and Robotics. Nicky (our baby from her second marriage) is 7. It should be noted that Joy's second marriage was to a very special man who adopted her 3 children and truly claims them as his own. What a blessing!


    Sorry, not as short as I hoped. I came to Hope with my Aunt Laura in January 1996. I have been here ever since. Hope is my faith home. I am currently serving as Hope's food coordinator for the second time. It is like giving a party every week. I want to be a "hostess with the mostess" and use my gift of hospitality. I love my job and all the people who help and support my ministry. I am also a Stephens Minister and try to help Donnie with Youth Group on Sunday nights. I love those kids. How lucky can one girl be?


    My most embarrassing moment:  Too many to mention.


    Favorite Bible verse: John 14: 1-2

    Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

  • danny morris

    custodian

    I was born in Pontiac, Michigan and raised in Keego Harbor. I attended West Bloomfield schools where I was a stinker. After high school, I joined the Marine Corp, active duty for four years. I am married to my wonderful wife, Jeanette, and have one daughter, Danielle. I was a journeyman carpenter for over 25 years but am now retired. I enjoy bowling and aeronautics. I have worked here at Hope for over eight years and enjoy my job and the people here at Hope very much.


    Most Embarrassing Moment: While working at Hope one day, I approached a group of people with their backs to me. As I got closer, I noticed their beautiful long hair and asked “Could I help you ladies with something”. They turned around and much to my chagrin they were all men, some with facial hair!  Very embarrassing!


    Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd....."