Sunday 9:00am & 11:00am
Sunday Morning Education 10:00am
Pastor John is from Salisbury, NC. He graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, in 1970 and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC, in 1974. Before coming to St. Paul’s in 1994, Pastor John served churches in Concord, Lexington, and Hickory, NC. He and his wife Martha were married in 1971, and have two adult children, Marcus and Jessica. Marcus lives in Charlotte with his wife Gina and their daughter Ellie. Jessica lives in Wilmington.
Pastor John has served the wider church as an elected member of the Synod Council for three terms, the Synod’s Educational Ministry and Evangelism Committees, and Conference Dean. He has also been a voting member at national assemblies of the ELCA. As the Confirmation Ministry Facilitator for the NC Synod, he pioneered the “Campfirmation” program at Lutheridge for middle school youth, which now draws pastors in congregational clusters from all over the southeast.
Pastor John, with his passion for evangelism and making disciples, has been a Spiritual Director and leader for both Teens Encounter Christ and Via de Cristo in Eastern and Western North Carolina. As our much-loved pastor, he has brought spiritual renewal and growth to St. Paul’s. His favorite thing about being a pastor is preaching and sharing the faith in close personal relationships. His favorite way to relax is getting on their boat with Martha and cruising the Intracoastal Waterway.
Pastor Mark Arnold Opgrand was born and baptized in Medford, Oregon and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from high school in Beaverton, Oregon, he attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Washington, graduating in 1970. Prior to seminary, he worked six summers and a winter at Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. He graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1979.
Pastor Mark served as a parish pastor in Caldwell, Texas and worked as United Campus Minister in Odessa, Texas before moving to Indiana, where he served as Lutheran Campus Pastor at Purdue University. Since 1997, he has been called as Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s.
After the death of his wife Carol Thysell in 2001, Mark married Rebecca Higgins in 2005. Rebecca is Principal of Pine Valley Elementary School. Their family includes Rebecca’s adult children Laura and Reed. Reed and his wife Sarah live and work in Wilmington and are parents of daughter Savannah Grace. Laura lives and works in California. Pastor Mark and Rebecca also share their home with their dog “Possum,” a delightful and very sweet offspring of a parking lot rescue.
Pastor Mark enjoys reading, preaching, studying, creating children’s sermons, pastoral care, working with Stephen Ministry and the SPARKS (St. Paul’s Active and Retired Kindred Spirits 50+). He also plays percussion instruments at the 9:00 AM Sunday Celebration service and saxophone in our instrumental ensemble. He is also very interested in films, digital photography, technology, and all the latest gadgets.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama; Bill has worked in church music and taught in schools and community colleges in the southeast and midwest. His degrees are from Centre College of Kentucky (BA) and Samford University of Alabama (MM). Bill has served St. Paul's since 1993 in the capacities of principal organist and music director. He also is a math instructor and lead instructor of fine arts, specializing in music, at Brunswick Community College.
Emily was born in Queens, NY but later moved to Long Island, NY, where she lived for 26 years.
Emily graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a Bachelor’s
Degree in Education and received her Master’s Degree from CW
Post College for Reading Specialist.
Prior to becoming the Director of Youth and Family Ministries for St. Paul’s, Emily was employed with the Pender County Board of Education. She taught Special Education at the Pender Learning Center. Emily has taught for five years and holds a license in Special Education K-21, General Education K-6, and a Master’s Degree in Reading.
In 2006, Emily was certified through the Center for Youth Ministries of Wartburg Theological Seminary with The Youth and Family Institute as a Youth and Family Minister and has served at St. Paul’s as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries.
Emily has two adult children, Kevin and Amber. They both live in the Wilmington area. Kevin is a graduate of UNCW and Amber is a graduate of Lenoir Rhyne University and currently attending UNCW.
Emily enjoys making connections with the youth of the congregation through programs and activities like BYG (Building Youth Groups) & BYG-er, TEC (Teens Encounter Christ), Lock-ins, Mission trips, Confirmation and Serving opportunities. In her spare time, Emily loves to watch the Giants and Rangers! Emily also loves to curl up with a good book or an old movie.
Kathleen Kalish has been with St. Paul?s since May 2001. She comes to us with a diverse background, including working with Habitat for Humanity while in high school in Americus, Georgia and a coordinator for special events for the Arthritis Foundation in Los Angeles, California. She has also been an office manager for an internet start-up company in Baltimore, Maryland as well as a homeowners association in coastal North Carolina. All of this varied experience helps her juggle the various (and unique!) needs of St. Paul's.
Kathleen's greatest pride and joy is her young son, Joshua, of whom you will see plenty of pictures if you come into her office. She enjoys spending time at the park with him, reading a good book or making yummy treats to bring in the office to share!
In addition to her work as Office Administrator, Kathleen is also the Wedding Director for all weddings at St. Paul's
After retiring from serving in church music for 43 years, Ray McNeely was called to St.Paul's to serve as Choirmaster of the Church Choir in January of 2003. Most of his church music service was the Director of Music at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Conover, NC. A career musician, Ray was a Professor of Music at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC. During his 33 year tenure at the Lutheran Institution, the musician was conductor of the A Cappella Choir for 29 years. He led the well known organization in more than 500 concerts touring in 20 states and through 7 European tours. His career with the choir ended with a gala concert at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in June of 1999. He also served as Chairperson of the Music Department. An endowed fund for Excellency in Choral Music was named in his honor at the College at the close of his tenure.
His service to the Lutheran Church included a six year span as President of the Southeastern Conference of the American Lutheran Church. He served on the constituting committee of the North Carolina Synod after the merger of the various Lutheran denominations. He also was instrumental in introducing the Lutheran Book of Worship in many workshops across North Carolina.
His wife of 42 years is an award winning early childhood teacher who is still teaching and directing the pre-school program at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church. They are the proud parents of three children, Chris, Andrew and Anne Elizabeth and two grandchildren.
Ray believes that every worship event should be carefully prepared and executed so that the leadership provides the worshippers with a service which gives the very best in the adoration and praise of the risen Christ. He is an avowed traditionalist who enjoys teaching the rich musical heritage of the Lutheran faith.
Marcia Bremer has been involved with church music most of her life. She began playing the piano at age seven and began playing the organ for church services when she was in the eighth grade. Throughout the years, Marcia has served various churches as an organist and choir director. Prior to her move to the Wilmington area in August of 2004, Marcia was a prosecutor for 10 years in Minnesota. Marcia was also employed as the Director of Music at Shalom Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Minnesota. In that capacity, she directed the adult choir, played for and sang in an intergenerational contemporary group called "Spirit of Shalom", organized a children's choir, and played the organ for services. As Music Associate for St. Paul's, Marcia assists Bill Remele, Director of Music, as needed; fills in as organist on occasion; directs "Joyful Voices", a children's choir, coordinates the 8:30 am choir, and plays piano with the instrumental ensemble.
Marcia currently works as an Assistant District Attorney for the 4th Prosecutorial District in North Carolina. The 4th District is composed of Sampson, Duplin, Onslow, and Jones counties. She lives in Magnolia Greens Golf Plantation with her "family," a crazy puppy of questionable ancestry named Muppet and her beloved tuxedo cat, Hannah Banana Bremer.