Rev. Russ Grigsby
Dear Friends, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am honored to serve here, a church that has long held my respect and adoration for its mission-minded attitude that permeates every aspect of its ministry. For the last twelve years I have served Lebanon Lutheran in the Corcoran neighborhood, just three miles Southeast. In that time, I have had the privilege of being a part of various outreaches to the community that St. Paul’s has conducted. Yet, the greatest blessing has come from knowing the wonderful people who make up this congregation. The joy of the Lord is truly here!
Mine is a story of a God who relentlessly pursues. I was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but returned to the States when I was four months old…apparently bagpipes weren’t doing it for me. I was introduced to Jesus as a child, but walked away in high school, and entering college I told a campus ministry, “talk to me my Senior year, I want to have fun first!”
Well, God didn’t wait until my Senior year. Romans 5:8 says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It was my sophomore year, while living in a fraternity, that He got me! While taking a nap I dreamed that a giant explosion was coming at me and I was completely powerless to stop it. The most awful dread of death consumed every fiber of my being…not simply the fear of dying, but the fear of being alone…separated from God by my own choosing to live apart from Him in sin. In that instant, I missed the God I had known as a child…I longed to be with Him, to have the fellowship I had experienced so long ago. As the shrapnel was about to hit my face, I cried out the very name I had just been using as a curse word that day, and suddenly everything stopped…I was alive.
Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” That was exactly my experience! I had done nothing to earn God’s favor, and in fact was living a life that was grieving Him, yet He mercifully saved me, just as He had done two-thousand years ago on the cross, taking the punishment for my sins. When I awoke, my heart was so full of gratitude that I remember steaming up the bathroom mirror and writing ‘I ♥ Jesus' in plain view of a fellow fraternity brother.
God's faithfulness in my life never wavered, even as I did. I went on to experience the brokenness of a divorce, but God brought healing and a blessing I could never have imagined through my second marriage to Jenna. I still remember welling up with tears as she walked down the aisle in white…again such undeserved mercy. And God has continued to pour out His blessings through two little pumpkins, Hadassa and Rhoda, our precious daughters. Jeremiah 31:5 says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
That is the context out of which I gratefully minister today. I am a broken sinner, simply pointing to the One who has relentlessly pursued me. As Luther said, “I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.” The kindness of God led me to repentance, so how can I show anything less than that same kindness to others by pointing them to the One who pursues them?
That is my story. What is yours? I can't wait to hear!
By His Wounds, Pastor Russ
Misrak Adoga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up with three brothers and four sisters as well as other children that her parents welcomed into their home and cared for through the years. From her mother, Yimesgen, Misrak learned first-hand what it means to love others deeply and sacrificially. Misrak attended college in India where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. Then in 2000, she moved to the United States. Several years later, she completed a course in Medical Administrative Assistant at Rasmussen College in Minnesota. Misrak began working at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in 2002 and she has served faithfully as Church Office Administrator since that time. Misrak has a passion for prayer and prayer ministry and can testify to many miraculous answers to prayer in the lives of her family members. She is married to Thomas and they have one daughter, Elul. In her spare time, Misrak enjoys knitting, watching movies and spending time with family and friends.
Lois Bodurtha came to St. Paul's in 1976 as the organist, and since 1981 has served as organist, choir director, worship team leader, pianist and vocalist. She considers it a joy and a privilege to lead the congregation in worship, teaching and encouraging people to develop their talents so they can use them to glorify God.
Lois is Director of Global Worship, an annual concert of worship at St. Paul's featuring Twin Cities' musicians from across the globe, now in its 10th year. Look for collages of past Global Worship pictures displayed in the church lobby. Lois was editor of the book, "Portraits," by Patricia Lokke, a compilation of biographies of St. Paul's members originally written for the St. Paul's Messenger.
As an independent piano teacher, Lois has instructed many piano students in her home studio in Eagan. She is an active member of music teacher organizations and her students participate regularly in exams, contests and recitals. She has been singing soprano for ten years as a member of Exultate, a professional choir in the Twin Cities. Lois and her husband Jim have four children and eight grandchildren.
Carl & Cheryl Rich
Carl and Cheryl Rich have a long history with St. Paul's Church. Carl grew up in the Phillip's neighborhood and started playing softball with the St. Paul's team in 1978. Cheryl started attending in 1980. As singles, they began working with the youth and children in the church and in the neighborhood. They were married at St. Paul's in 1985 and began preparing for the mission field. Carl and Cheryl were sent out by the church and worked in the Philippines for the next twenty-two years with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). Upon returning in 2011, they serve the church community in the area of pastoral care to shut-ins and reaching out to our neighbors in the Phillips community through Bible clubs for kids and MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and helping in other mission activities.
Carl and Cheryl love the cultural diversity of the Phillips neighborhood. Carl shares his passion for the missions by facilitating the Kairos Course. This course has been used by many churches to motivate and prepare their people for missions world-wide and next door. During their free time, Carl loves to fish the lakes, while Cheryl prefers to walk around them usually chatting with a friend. Carl and Cheryl have one son. David is a second year student studying nursing at Rasmussen College.