- About Us
- Imagine Wednesdays
- Music & Arts
Rev. Ryan Otto, Acting Senior Pastor
I began my ministry at First Congregational in October of 2008. This position is my first call after graduating with a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. I grew up on an acreage outside of Pierce, Nebraska, and learned a love of nature, science, music, and family. After high school, I studied vocal music and government at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. It was there I met my wife, Louisa, who is now a biology teacher at Brandon Valley High School. We have one daughter, Layla, who changed our world in March 2012.
In 2011, I was honored to have my song "Juntenos, Espiritu" published in Gifts in Open Hands, a global worship resource collected and edited by Maren Tirabassi and Kathy Eddy.
I am a member of the first class of the Next Generation Leadership Initative (Target 2030), a program established by the United Church Board of Ministerial Assistance to support and challenge young clergy in their first years of ministry.
Rev. Elaine Miller, Acting Associate Pastor
Bio coming soon!
Jack Mohlenhoff, Minister of Music and Arts
I am a native of Eastern South Dakota - born in DeSmet and spending most of my childhood years in Brookings. After spending time in the Pacific Northwest (undergraduate music studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA) and in the Northeast (graduate studies in church music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ), I came back to the Midwest, serving as a full-time church musician at First Lutheran Church in Brookings, Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, MN, and First Presbyterian Church in Sioux Falls. In 1998, I left First Presbyterian and pursued a career in Human Resources. I was fortunate to find First Congregational Church at this time, as well - first as a part-time church job, and more importantly as a church home for me and my family. After serving for ten years as Music Associate (director of the bell choir, youth choir and organist/choir accompanist), I began my full-time work as Minister of Music and Arts in February, 2008.
I have held local and regional office in the American Guild of Organists, The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, and Choristers Guild. I am a past director of the Singing Legionnaires and Heartland Handbells - a community handbell choir. I am also Executive Director of The South Dakota Chorale, a professional chorus based in Sioux Falls that the First Congregational Arts Ministry helped get started. My wife, Marilynn and I enjoy sharing our music - mostly piano duets - in the church and community. Our children Katie and Jonathan are both musicians, as well.
Becky Pagone, Christian Education Director
I grew up in Spring Valley, MN and after high school attended Augustana College where I graduated with a BA in elementary education and special education. I worked in the Sioux Falls Public Schools for several years in special education and received my master's degree in educational leadership from SouthWest State University. I married #7 on FCC's church league softball team (not Mickey Mantle) more like John Pagone. I became an active member at FCC's bell choir and boards. Then #7 and I decided to start a family and work toward building our own softball team. We enjoy Ellie, Katie, Michael, and Jacob at all their stages. I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the life of the church as Christian Education Director.
Ashley Norris, Christian Education Associate
I was born and raised in Estherville, IA , a two hour drive from Sioux Falls. I attended Central College in Pella, IA where I graduated with a degree in elementary education and minor in English. My husband, Aaron, and I then moved to Ann Arbor, MI, sight unseen, to start our careers. I found a lovely charter school which focused on project-based and thematic learning and was able to grow immensely as a teacher. After four years there we decided to move closer to our respective families and so, in 2008, we purchased a home in Sioux Falls and began our lives here. I taught for an after school program for just over four years at which point I was given the opportunity to watch the child of a friend, enabling me to stay at home with my daughter, Ophelia, which is what I currently do.
After moving to Sioux Falls I was anxious to 'church shop' since we never found a church home in Ann Arbor. We attended one service elsewhere before finding First Congregational. After one visit I knew it was the right place for me. I am excited to have the opportunity to spend more time getting involved with the various activities and get to know the youth in our congregation.
Pat Helgeland, Office Administrator
I joined the staff of First Congregational Church in August of 2009. Prior to joining the staff, I had worked with a variety of non-profit organizations, including nearly 6 years as the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity – South Dakota. I currently serve as a member of the Sioux Falls Habitat for Humanity Public Relations Committee.
I am a native of Mitchell, SD, and am active in my church, St. Michael Parish, where I am a lector and help with special events.
Tanya Harris, Financial Administrator
Greetings and welcome to First Congregational United Church of Christ. My position has me involved in many aspects of church life as finances, donations, paying bills, etc. affect our church life in multiple ways. I have many more responsibilities, which makes my work interesting. I married Dana Nelson and gained a beautiful granddaughter in the process. Our children are grown. I find it exciting to see them carve out their niche in our world. My undergraduate degree is in Accounting. I am currently attending the University of South Dakota working on a Masters of Public Administration degree. I also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, The Community Outreach and our church. My motto is “Life is an Adventure.” God has blessed me beyond all expectations and in ways that continuously surprise me.
Paul Vincent, Custodian
For almost twenty years I have been the everything man at FCC: the sound man and keeper of the grounds, greeter, cleaner-I've done it all but preach. Before joining the staff I traveled for twenty years in a band as the bass player then I joined a local Sioux Falls jazz and classic rock group. I like to laugh, tell jokes and enjoy life.
Kelly Steen, Assistant Custodian
Bio coming soon!