Reverend Eric L. Jay
Pastor Jay accepted his call to St Mark in August of 2017 to serve as Associate Pastor, and In 2018, St. Mark called him to serve as Sole/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 upon equipping students and future pastors to infiltrate strategic urban settings as church planters. As such, 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 coming to St. Mark.
After accepting the call to St Mark’s in August 2017, Pastor Jay preceded his wife Sarah and daughter Elizabeth who later joined him here in Omaha. Much of Pastor and Sarah’s time outside of church is spent enjoying time as a family with their daughter “Bizzy” Lizzy and son Jesse (J.J.). Having met at and graduated from the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music (Chapman University in Orange, Ca) with degrees in Music Performance, both Pastor and Sarah also love performing and teaching music.
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.
I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelors’ Degree in Elementary Education. I recently added an Early Childhood Endorsement through Peru State. My husband Mark and I live in Bellevue and have been married for 30 years. We have two children, Matthew and Laura, who both live in Omaha. My family worships at St. Matthews, in Bellevue, Nebraska. My first teaching job was in Copperas Cove, Texas, 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 sixth year at St. Mark Preschool as the Director and Lead teacher for our Pre-K classes. I love being an early childhood educator and am honored to share the love of Jesus with children. I enjoy reading, horseback riding, cooking, gardening and woodworking. My parents, siblings, and in-laws all live in Nebraska, so we are blessed to be able to spend time with our family.
I grew up on my parent’s small family farm in St. Paul, NE. My father, Earl, farmed while my mother, Marilyn, taught elementary school. A life-long Lutheran, I was baptized and confirmed at Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul, NE (a church that was built by my grandfather Rev. A.L. Kohtz).
Graduating from Kearney State College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I have a diverse career background, primarily focused on accounting and operations. I’ve served in a variety of roles including Office Administrator, Senior Accountant, Controller and Divisional Manager; for small locally owned businesses, national retailers and large, global tech companies.
My husband Chip and I met in Kearney while in college. We moved to the Omaha area in 1996 and recently settled in the Florence area. We will have been married for 30 years in August 2020. We have one son, Tanner, who also lives in Omaha. In my downtime, I enjoy reading and spending time with family (including our two Shih Tzu rescue dogs).
I graduated from Concordia University, Seward, in 1990 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and an added endorsement in Early Childhood Education. In 2018, I earned my Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Nebraska Wesleyan, Lincoln. Conducting research and writing a thesis was one of the most difficult yet rewarding tasks of my career. Since its completion, I have presented on my thesis topic at both district and national conferences and have written an article for an online Lutheran Education resource called Shaping the Future.
My work experience includes teaching in parochial schools in Georgia, Kansas, and Nebraska. I have taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. One of my teaching strengths is the ability to create learning through games and “out of seat” activities.
My husband Gale and I were blessed with four children—Jarod, Ryan, Christian, and Adelynn. My hobbies through the years have included playing the flute, painting, gardening, “upcycling” furniture, and watching our children’s sporting events. While Gale enjoys an active role as a coach, I enjoy holding down the bleachers.
I am blessed beyond measure every day and am excited to be part of the St. Mark ministry team. I look forward to supporting your children and families as you walk with our Lord Jesus.
I graduated from Kearney State College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I served in various positions in marketing and design until 14 years ago when I started my own firm, Chip Thompson Design. I continue providing design and marketing services for clients across the US including website design/development, corporate identity design and advertising layout/design/strategy. My wife, Kelly, handles the day to day accounting and administrative tasks. Two years ago, I started Thompson Social Video with my son, Tanner, providing professional video services to the Omaha market. We’ve had the pleasure of serving some great local and national companies (both for profit and non-profit) including the Durham Museum, Fontenelle Forest, Stephen Center, Angels Among Us, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Alzheimer’s Association, Lauritzen Gardens, Army Corps of Engineers and Nebraska Cancer Specialists.
In my spare time, I like to build unusual movie props and interactive displays in my shop under a dba “Box Rebellion”. Among the “cooler” things I’ve built are a 15 foot tall AT-AT Walker from Star Wars (I’m kind of a big fan) and a 9 foot long Lite Brite for a local children’s non-profit.
Putting the talent God gave me to use for the church is a long-time dream. I am excited about what God has in store for the future here at St. Mark, where Kelly and I have been members for just over 2 years! One of my favorite verses, written in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, sums up the way I try to live life (only imperfectly and only with and through God’s help): “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Connecting People to Jesus is our tagline, and it is the desire of my heart. God be praised!
Though born in Minnesota, Dan spent most of his life in the great state of Kansas (Go KSU Wildcats!) grew up on a farm, was a sheriff’s deputy while attending college, served the community as a volunteer firefighter for more than 15 years and works for insurance companies.
Dan promised his wife Jane when he was first asked to be a youth director in Hays, Kansas he’d only do it for one year. That was 8 National Youth Gatherings and a whole bunch of District Youth Gatherings, Lock-ins, Quakes, Youth Nights, Servant Events, Cook outs, Cokes and Bible Studies ago! Dan loves spending time with youth in studying and growing in God’s Word and having fun while we do. Dan enjoys the time he spends with the youth at St Mark, though he’s not going to become a Husker convert.
After a company move brought Dan and Jane to Omaha in 2016, they joined St. Mark Lutheran. They have two grown sons, Jason and Andrew. Dan and Jane enjoy traveling and spending time with our sons and our extended families spread out over 7 different states and 4 time zones.
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.
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!