Connecting People to Jesus



Reverend Eric L. Jay

Pastor Jay serves as St. Mark’s Senior Pastor.

A Southern California native, Pastor Jay graduated with a Master’s in Theology and Culture as a student of St Louis Seminary via the Cross Cultural Ministry Pastoral Certification Program (CMC) located at Concordia University in Irvine, California. The CMC focuses uniquely on equipping pastors to infiltrate strategic urban settings as church planters. Pastor Jay spent the the last 2 years of his seminary training and the first 3 years of ministry as pastor of The Gathering; a church plant of which Pastor Jay was founder. Simultaneously, Pastor Jay served briefly as the Interim Pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Westminster, California. In 2012 he accepted the call to serve as sole pastor of St John’s Lutheran Church in El Segundo, Ca, and served there for 5 years before accepting the call to St. Mark in August 2017.

Pastor Jay and his wife Sarah met at and graduated from the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music (Chapman University in Orange, Ca) with degrees in Music Performance. God has blessed them with three children: their daughter Elizabeth and sons Jesse and Hezekiah.

Contact Pastor Jay




Beth Kelly

Beth was born and raised in Canton, IL where she lived until moving to Omaha a year ago. Her son and daughter-in-law, Seth and Ashley, settled in Omaha after Seth left the Navy a few years ago. She wanted to be out here before any grandchildren arrived! In Canton Beth worked as the church office manager at First Baptist Church. Beth worked as a Legal Assistant upon first arriving in Omaha, but started at St. Mark’s at the first of the year. She has been involved with children and youth ministry since she was in high school and most other areas at her former church. In her spare time Beth enjoys spending time with Seth and Ashley, gardening, walking – anything that gets her outdoors!


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Reverend Adefris “Eddie” Mekasha

Pastor Eddie Mekasha is a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He completed his college and seminary studies in Ethiopia majoring in theology and supplies management. Once in the United States, Pastor Eddie also earned a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in 2007 and has served as an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod ever since.

Pastor Eddie is married to Fantaye who has always supported the Pastor Eddie’s evangelism and ministry as a caring co-worker. They are blessed by two daughters, Kedamawit and Simret.

Eddie was the editor of Amharic herald, an Ethiopian Christian newspaper. Eddie immigrated to America in July 2002, and arrived in Louisville, KY where he began his ministry here as an evangelist and Campus facilitator for immigrants and international college students. Eddie’s family joined him in the US in 2007.

In August 2013, Eddie moved to Council Bluffs Iowa to be a Chaplain for Tyson Food, and has certifications in Clinical Pastoral Education, Mediation, and Addiction Counseling. In addition to his chaplaincy, Eddie has served the immigrant community here in Omaha and the surrounding area, joining the St. Mark Staff in early 2020 after serving at several other congregations in the area.

Contact Pastor Eddie



Lydia Woods
402-391-6148 ext. 2259

Lydia Woods is an Omaha native who grew up attending the Concordia Omaha School systems. In the ninth grade she found a passion for teaching Sunday school and wished she could do that forever, so she set off to do so!

Lydia attended Concordia University Irvine to obtain a degree and become a Director of Christian Education (DCE) ministry. After four fun years of studying, she graduated in 2021, then was sent off to Pennsylvania for an internship in DCE ministry. As the end of her education drew near, Lydia felt God calling her back to Omaha. God confirmed that call through St. Mark where Lydia was commissioned and installed as the Director of Children’s and Family Ministry on Sunday, August 14, 2022.

Lydia comes from a family of 6, her parents and three siblings. She is excited to be close to several of them as well as extended family.

Contact Lydia



Julie Kyriss
402-391-6148 ext. 2255

I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelors’ Degree in Elementary Education. I have added an Early Childhood Endorsement through Peru State.

My husband Mark and I live in Bellevue and have been married for 33 years. We have two children Matthew and Laura and a daughter in-law, Melissa, who all live in Bellevue.

My first teaching job was in Copperas Cove, Texas, a small town by Ft. Hood. I spent three wonderful years teaching 1st grade before moving to Germany where I ran a Co-op Preschool for the Department of Defense. After moving to Nebraska in June of 2000, I taught Preschool for two years and then Kindergarten for seven years at Pilgrim Lutheran in Bellevue, Nebraska. Prior to coming to St. Mark, I worked as a contractor on Offutt Air Force Base for Parents as Teachers Heroes at Home as an in-home visitor for children birth- to age-3-years-old. This is my tenth year at St. Mark Preschool and Childcare as the Center Director and Lead teacher for the 3-year-old class. I love being an early childhood educator and am honored to share the love of Jesus with children.

I enjoy reading, horseback riding, pottery, gardening and woodworking. My dad, siblings, and in-laws all live in Nebraska, so we are blessed to be able to spend time with our family.

Contact Julie



Aaron Kratz 
402-391-6148 ext. 2253

I graduated from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA with a Bachelors’ Degree in Elementary Education, and a Reading Endorsement.

My wife Tina and I live in Omaha and have been married for 20 years. We have two daughters, Kayla and Chloe, who are currently attending Concordia Omaha Jr./Sr. High School.

My first teaching job was in the West Harrison Community School District in Mondamin, IA, as a Title One Reading teacher and coach. I then met my wife and moved to Southern California and was a seventh-grade teacher, coach, and athletic director at Hephatha Lutheran School in Anaheim Hills, CA for two years. We then decided to move up the coast to Paso Robles, CA where I was a 1st grade teacher and coach at Trinity Lutheran School for eighteen years. We then decided to back to the Midwest, and I was a 1st / 2nd grade teacher at East Mills Community School in Malvern, IA .

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and attending my daughters’ sporting events.

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Jesse Ristvedt (Kindergarten)

Mrs. Jesse Ristvedt was raised in Scribner, NE where she was raised in the faith and attended a K-12 school. As a high school student, she discovered a love of teaching during several years of experience in the teacher’s aid program under an excellent mentor in a Kindergarten classroom.  She graduated with a BA in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Kindergarten from Midland Lutheran College in 1998.  Jesse has worked for Bennington School District, St. Bernard in Omaha, The Wider Lutheran School Association, and Omaha Public Schools.  Of her twenty-five years of experience, fifteen have been in Kindergarten.

She is excited to return to Lutheran education and bring her experience to the kindergarteners of St. Mark Lutheran School!

In her spare time, Jesse enjoys gardening, making music with her family and congregation, and serving on the board of the historical museum in her hometown.  Jesse is married to Phillip and they have one son, Nolan.


Dawn Godemann (1st/2nd Grade)

Dawn Godemann lived in Nebraska for much of her childhood.  She considers Madison, NE her hometown.  She now will call Omaha, NE home.  She attended Lutheran elementary schools in Arlington and Madison, Madison Public High School, and Concordia University, Seward, NE. She also received her Masters Degree in Education with Early Childhood from CUNE.  Her late father Dennis, and her mom Linda were also Lutheran school teachers.

Dawn has been teaching for 25 years.  All were in Lutheran Schools.  She has served at 3 schools:  Immanuel Lutheran, Columbus, NE, Grace Lutheran, Sandy, UT, and St. Peter Lutheran, Lodi, CA.  She has taught grades 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade.  She is very excited to begin her ministry at St. Mark Lutheran Church and help build a brand new school.

Dawn’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law reside in Bellevue, NE.  Her mom lives at Richmont Senior Living.  Her brother Jeff and his wife Valinda live just 5 minutes up the hill from Richmont.   Dawn’s aunt Norma Roland and cousins Scott and Nancy Holder and Kristen and Charles Poster are members of St. Mark.  She is very excited to see family as often as she wants and to worship with them too.

Dawn enjoys spending time at home with her 4 cats.  Jasper, Molly, Louis, and Sylvee are happy to go where Dawn goes.  Dawn also enjoys mission trips, walking, gardening, flowers, and is excited to reconnect with many family and friends in the area.


Jenny Carlson (Art)

I grew up in Arlington, NE. I graduated from Concordia University, Seward with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood. After graduation, I moved to Colorado where I spent three years in early childhood classrooms before opening my own in-home childcare business that I ran for 6 years. In the fall of 2019, I became director of a Montessori early childhood center in Denver, CO and in May of 2021, my family moved from Denver to Omaha.

I am a fun, out-going, creative person with a passion for teaching young children. I am excited to be a part of the St. Mark family.


Sarah Jay (Instrumental/Vocal Music)

Sarah Jay is a professional cellist and orchestral strings teacher with 20 years of experience.

Sarah graduated from the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University in Orange, Ca with a bachelor’s degree in cello performance. Throughout her educational career, Sarah has had the opportunity to train and study under several world-renowned cellists and pedagogues. Using her extensive training, Sarah has become an established and sought after performer and educator in her own right.

Sarah has a deep love for teaching and sharing the joy of creating beautiful music with students. This passion brought about the founding of Soli Studios Music Inc., a private company and professional music education provider owned and operated successfully by Sarah and her husband for over a decade. Sarah’s career as an educator has been built on private and group lessons for students ranging from preschool students to collegiate level music students. In example of her well-established career, Sarah has worked as the cello professor and small ensemble director at Concordia University (Irvine, Ca), the cello professor at Vanguard University (Costa Mesa, Ca), the director of string instruction at the Arts & Learning Conservatory (Costa Mesa, Ca), the music instructor for the Waldorf School of Costa Mesa (K-5), Montessori Schools of Irvine, Project Hope Alliance (K-8), and as the string director for several high schools and middle schools.

Shortly after moving to Omaha in 2017 as a result of her husband’s call to serve as pastor of St Mark Lutheran Church, Sarah was also asked to work and continues to enjoy her position as the string orchestra director for Concordia Lutheran Jr./Sr. High and Concordia Academy (K-5). As a professional cellist, Sarah has performed with many symphonic orchestras and ensembles. As a freelance professional musician, Sarah has performed with a number of well known recording artists including Stevie Nicks, Mandisa, Manheim Steamroller, L.I.T. and others.

Sarah and her husband, Pastor Eric Jay, enjoy God’s blessing of their three children, Lizzy, Jesse, and Hezekiah, and thank God for His calling them to be in Nebraska serving our Lord Jesus with the gifts and talents He has entrusted to them.



Jason Conell

Jason was born in Hays, KS where he attended school and spent the first 25 years of his life. He then moved to Wichita, KS for 6 years and finally moved to Omaha after his parents and only sibling relocated there. Jason attended Fort Hays State University and Wichita State University.

Jason has worked in several different and widely varying fields from managing a small airline station in his hometown, to construction, to sales, to convenience store management. Jason joined the staff at St. Mark in August of 2022. He has been an LCMS Lutheran since grade-school, though he will be the first to admit he missed some Sundays here and there.

Jason enjoys spending time with his parents, Dan and Jane, his brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Kaylea. He also enjoys seeing his extended family which gratefully happens often. His hobbies include woodworking, weightlifting and binge-watching history documentaries on YouTube.

Contact Jason


Daren Clark

Daren has built a career working “hands-on” in a variety of building, maintenance and construction projects. There is a lot of ministry that happens on a daily basis here at St. Mark, and it simply wouldn’t be possible without the behind the scenes hard work of facility maintenance, repair and development. Daren came aboard full time at the end of 2019 after 4 years of working part-time here at St. Mark.





Glenda Bock

I am a life time LCMS Lutheran, having been baptized and confirmed in southeast Nebraska. I graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln with a B. A. in Social Work and Psychology, which is also where I met my husband, Rod. I worked for a brief time in Lincoln as a Medical Social Worker, but then we moved to Midland, Michigan, St.Louis, Missouri, and Kansas City, Missouri before settling in Omaha. We have three children, four grandchildren, and will be married 54 years this December. Down time finds me gardening, reading, sewing and doing some volunteering. This September I will have been playing organ, both full time and part time, for 35 years, giving Rod an opportunity to sit alone with our children in church through all their growing up years. I’ve been substituting for churches around Omaha, as well as accompanying the choir and subbing at St. Mark since 2006. A couple of years ago l thought I was fully retired, but then came the opportunity to play full time for St. Mark, and I have come to recognize this as another door that God opened for me. I love playing the wonderful organ here, and having the chance to share my love for the Word in the Church’s music. A piece sung by the choir, quoting I Corinthians 2:9, has taught me about God’s guidance in my life “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. ” I guess I’ll save retirement for a later date!