Welcoming New Ministers in the Conference!

Over the next few weeks, we will share short profiles of pastors who have been called during the Covid-19 pandemic. We commend both ministers and congregations for continuing to move forward faithfully despite the unusual challenges this global health crisis introduced for search committees, candidates, and newly called pastors.

Rev. Shannon Smith, The Congregational Church, Rochester

Shannon serves as co-pastor of The Congregational Church, working alongside her husband, Rev. Andrew Greenhaw. A native of Kentucky, Shannon attended Western Kentucky University before discerning a call to ministry. After completing her Master of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion she was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served as the pastor of First Christian Church in Slidell, Louisiana. When she is not chasing her children, Ruth and Samuel, Shannon loves to read and imagine how we can make the Church a more welcoming, diverse place that serves all of God’s children.

You started your position in trying times. What has been your biggest challenge?
Not knowing the members of the congregation. So much of the initial work at a call is building relationships and developing a deeper understanding of the congregation and the pandemic has made this significantly more challenging.

Where have you found joy?
The faithfulness of the Congregational Church. They have made a real effort to continue the work of the Church during the pandemic, from putting together an incredible live stream set up to checking in on one another. This inspires me and makes me so excited to serve them. Plus, working with my husband is pretty great.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Continuing to deepen relationships and Advent. This year having time to honor waiting and hoping for the coming of Jesus resonates with me during this time of Covid. It will be even better because we will be able to gather both online and in person.

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Rev. Enno Limvere, First Congregational UCC, Grand Marais

Enno Limvere joined First Congregational UCC in Grand Marais as designated term pastor in late 2020. He grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, and majored in child development and science at North Dakota State University. After graduating college, he worked as a youth minister, captaining a 28-foot boat that took young people on trips to the Apostle Islands. He went on to attend Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and has subsequently served churches in Walker, Minnesota; Wahpeton, North Dakota; and Ipswich, South Dakota. Enno also sings and plays guitar and mandolin.

You started your position in trying times. What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is worship — the technology of recording and publishing, dealing with changing conditions when worshipping outside, and deciding with leadership when and how we will return back to the sanctuary.

Where have you found joy?
Moving up to the North Shore, there is much joy to be found looking at Lake Superior and hiking the trails through the forest, mountains and waterfalls. The people here, inside and outside the church, have warmly welcomed my family and me.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?I look forward to a time when we can return into the sanctuary for worship (masked and not singing to begin, and hopefully maskless and hymn singing later). If the pandemic does wind down so we can do more things in person, I look forward to Sunday School with the kids, in-person Bible and book studies, and continuing to get to know the Grand Marais community and the Minnesota Conference.

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Rev. Nikki Darlene Frontz, Pastor, Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis

Pastor Nikki Darlene Frontz (she/her/hers) signs her emails with this quote from Dr. Maya Angelou: “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” A creative, out-of-the-box thinker and doer, she thrives on possibility and love to inspire people by empowering them and by challenging the status quo. She believes that God welcomes all to the sacred table and says inclusivity is how she does life. She is the founder of Rebel Harmony, a company that empowers people to live their best lives, and an affiliate coach with Convergence. She graduated from Iliff School of Theology in 2016 with a Master of Divinity specializing in Pastoral and Spiritual Care. She has a BA in Music (Vocal Emphasis) from the University of Southern Mississippi.

You started your position in trying times. What has been your biggest challenge?
Being a black southern woman, the biggest challenge for me is to learn how to be the minister of a community that is majority white, middle class, and of a Minnesotan cultural context. I made a deal with my church community that I will always get the last bite of church food so they don’t have to worry about it.

Where have you found joy?
I have found joy in building a culture of authentic relationship, empowerment, and transparency in our community. I love seeing people in my community take ownership for their part and be empowered to do the work of God. I love getting to know my folks and checking in on how their souls are doing.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
I love being creative, reimagining sacred and meaningful rituals, and Christmas! I love not only Christmas service, but Blue Christmas Service for those who hurt on Christmas. I feel a deep call to minister to the forgotten and to have intentional sacred space to hold joy and deep hurt.


Rev. Winston Janusz, Associate Pastor, Peace UCC, Rochester

Rev. Janusz joined Peace Church in July 2020 as associate pastor.  Winston first studied philosophy and then went on to earn his master’s degree in mental health counseling. After working as a licensed therapist for several years and still feeling passionate about recognizing the importance of mental health in our communities, he heeded his call to pursue ordained ministry, earning his Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. Winston is married to Jessica and they have three children: Jonah, Connor, and Sage. His special interests including spending time with family, gaming and social justice issues, specifically global warming.

You started your position in trying times. What has been your biggest challenge?
The process of getting to know the congregation and getting familiar with the culture of the church has been very difficult because of Covid. I’ve been in this position for over a year now and it still feels like I’m just starting the job.

Where have you found joy?
I have found joy in the opportunities I have had to connect with members of the congregation, to experiment with new ideas, and to express myself in the church in various ways. It’s a blessing to be able to live out my calling despite the times we are living in and despite the uncertainty of the future.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
We recently began having in-person worship again, so I am looking forward to seeing how that will deepen my relationships with members of the church.

The Minnesota Conference UCC develops leaders for a changing church.

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2021