Rev. Wayne L. Nieminen
Childhood: Both of my parents were of Finnish descent. Both sets of grandparents migrated to America in the early part of the 20 th century seeking a new life. My father was an entrepreneur – starting a construction company and later a lumber yard. My mother was a teacher and invested a lot of time effort in my education, sending me to Quaker schools from kindergarten through high school. I’ve inherited a potpourri of Finnish flaws.
Favorite memories of church: I grew up with many of my friends in the church – acolyting together, participating in the youth group (and church dances!) and taking care of the church grounds. An Episcopal priest in Philadelphia became my mentor and friend during my teenage years, opening me up to the world of film, art, music, adventure and service to the poor.
Education: I studied at Gettysburg College and University of Mysore, India. Mark Twain said something like: travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness. India began this process for me. Studies continued at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Yale Divinity School – Finishing up with and a PhD from Iowa state University in Counseling. Dissertation research took place in Arusha, Tanzania.
My passion in ministry: ministry to special needs students and adults (L’Arche and Faith and Light);
service projects to refugees/ asylum seekers/ immigrants; Appalachian Service Project; living in different Christian communities in the world and having fun together; being surprised by Scripture; “Church is a textured context in which we grow up in Christ to maturity. But church is difficult. Sooner or later though, if we are serious about growing up in Christ, we have to deal with church” (Eugene Peterson). Yes!
Stuff I’m interested in besides religion: Indian buffets, hiking, reading, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, my wife, my sons, daughter-in-law and grandson, Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestra, the Packers, construction projects, scotch ales, golden doodles, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Boston Legal, The Crown and Door County Wisconsin.
Rev. Dr. Christa von Zychlin
Childhood: I was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. My parents were sponsored to come to the USA as immigrants/ refugees from Germany after World War II. I grew up speaking German at home. My dad was a cabinet-maker and my mom a cafeteria worker, so my older sister and brother and I didn’t have much money growing up, but we had security, a big backyard, a dog, and good imaginations, so life was good.
Favorite memories of childhood church: I loved outdoor worship in the summer because there were shorter liturgies – and we had sandwiches and cake after church was over! I also loved the kindness of my Sunday School teachers and their care to show Jesus’ love was for every single person, no matter what country or culture they come from, or whether they are rich or poor, brown or white, extra smart or specially challenged, liberal or conservative, God loves each and every one.
Education: I graduated with a B. Science from U of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Seminary years were spent at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago, and at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. I’m proud to say that in my “old age” I completed my Doctorate of Ministry program and graduated in May 2017 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong. My thesis title is “’THIS IS MY BELOVED DAUGHTER – LISTEN TO HER!’ Diaconal Empowerment through Contextual Bible Study among Women of the Mekong.”
My passion in ministry: l’ve always loved the Bible and believe God speaks to us through it. I believe in encouraging people of all ages to learn and re-learn the fresh good news of Jesus Christ for themselves, their families, their community, and then to go and share that good news, in helpful, kind and welcoming ways. I believe in mission through "diakonia" (Christian acts of service with the poor and the poor in spirit) understanding that we are all “poor” or “poor in spirit” in different ways and at different times. I look forward to keeping my eyes and ears open for opportunities to participate in God’s gifts of grace in and through St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, NM!
Stuff I’m interested in besides religion: Hiking, cooking, movies, reading, writing, learning about
different cultures, tutoring children & adults in EFL, running marathons once a decade (I completed my
third marathon a couple of years ago with such an abysmal time score that I’m considering attempting
another one in the next year or two…) bird-watching, gardening, and according to my family, I spend way
too much time looking at Facebook! I am also hopelessly addicted to sweets and nuts.
Places we’ve lived and/or served as Pastors and Seminary Teachers:
USA: Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Iowa, and now, New Mexico!
Europe: Germany and France
Africa: The Central African Republic and Tanzania
Asia: Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China; work & study trips to Myanmar,
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam
Family: Three young adult sons, one daughter-in-law, and as of 2021, one beautiful grandson, living in 1) San Francisco, CA., 2) Denver, CO., and 3) Albuquerque, NM. We have close friends and/or family links in Chicago and Rockford,,IL. Philadelphia, PA, Marco Island,FL., internationally – The Netherlands; Germany; Finland;
What excites us about St. Luke Lutheran Church, Albuquerque: We love the city setting, with lots of cultural diversity, interesting restaurants, and easy access to hiking trails. At St. Luke, we appreciate the blend of traditional Lutheran focus on Bible, liturgy and music, with an openness and flexibility to new and creative expressions of faith and worship as we weather a pandemic and a fire in our first full year of ministry together! We also sense a keen interest for rediscovering and redeploying everyone at this church to engage in hands on practical service within the St. Luke community, out to the greater Albuquerque neighborhood, and beyond! And… we are looking forward to lots of opportunities for in- person food and fellowship, once this pandemic is truly over!