First Steps: If you are a newcomer to RWC and want to know more about who we are and where we're headed as a church, please join us for a quick lunch and time of connection. This introduction gathering is offered in the Fireside Room at 12:15am on:
Ridgewood Membership: This informational membership class is for those who are ready to become a member of RWC or who may want to dive deeper into who we are. This class will cover the mission and vision of the church, what we believe, and how we function as a church in "Making Jesus Known through Community Impact." This class is offered in room 104 at 9:00am on:
Contact Pastor Neil Essen at email@example.com for questions.
Pastor Paul Johnson grew up in the Twin Cities where he began an award-winning career in radio and television broadcasting. He pursued God’s call to ministry and returns home after serving as Teaching Pastor at Christ Community Church in Tucson, Arizona, and as Lead Pastor at South Delta Baptist Church in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Paul has a keen interest in church multiplication and leadership development. He holds Doctor of Ministry and Masters of Divinity degrees and has authored two books and numerous articles regarding church life and governance.
He is married to Wendi and is father to Adina, Jeremy, Makenzie, Joshua, and Reagan.
Susan Thompson is better known as Pastor Susie around Ridgewood. Susie began her ministry at RWC in 2000. Serving first for six years as the office administrator, she returned to school at Crown College completing a B.S. in Christian Ministry in 2012. Sensing a long time call to pastoral ministry, she enrolled at Luther Rice University and Seminary where she completed her M.A. in Biblical Counseling in 2015. Susie was licensed as a pastor in 2012 and ordained by Ridgewood Church/Converge Worldwide in 2015.
Susie and her husband Larry have five adult children and nine grandchildren. In their free time they enjoy traveling in their motorhome “Dobson.” Susie loves counseling, teaching, and all aspects of pastoral care.
Neil grew up in north Texas in a family that loved God, the local church, sports, and great food. He is grateful for this heritage and the foundation that God has given him in life. That foundation proved very important in middle school and early high school years when he went through a 5-year battle with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. This season marked his life deeply and taught him that God can be trusted, that He knows and sees us, and that anything is possible.
Neil married his high school crush, Debra, and they have 3 sweet and spunky daughters named Gracey, Haley, and Maggey. Before moving to Minnesota, they were long-time members of 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas where Neil also served as a pastor for 6 years. It was there that God gave Neil and Debra a passion for small groups and seeing people find connection and hope by living in inclusive community that draws people far from God into a relationship with Jesus. Neil also has a desire to see Christ-followers walk in the calling God has for them as ministers in all areas of life.
Neil enjoys any sport except Nascar (not a sport!), but his specific affections are for the Green Bay Packers and Duke Blue Devils Basketball. He also loves to be active outdoors, drink loads of dark coffee, eat amazing food, watch cooking shows, and read about leadership, theology and church multiplication.
Always captivated by a future vision of what’s possible, Neil believes that God has great things in store for the Twin Cities as we pray, build relationships outside and inside the church, and follow Jesus together.
His favorite verses are 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” and Psalm 16:11: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Wendi grew up in Washington State where she developed a love for ministry. After graduating high school she traveled across the globe with the Continental Singers. Following the completion of a third tour she found herself in Tucson, Arizona where she directed children’s choirs, youth choirs, and was highly involved with the worship ministry at Christ Community Church. Wendi has had much experience leading music and tech teams and loves to lead worshipers to the throne room of God.
Wendi and Paul served nine years at South Delta Baptist Church in Vancouver, Canada, where she served as Children’s Director and directed children’s choirs that performed both in the church and community. While at South Delta, Wendi also served as a member of the Sunday morning music team.
Wendi’s heart is to facilitate worship as a means to connect people to Christ: “There is no greater honor for me than to adore my King and lead others in doing the same.”
Wendi is the wife of Pastor Paul and mother to their six children, one of whom resides in heaven. Although Wendi has gone through many trials, she relies on Jesus for her strength, comfort, and hope.
Danise joins the Ridgewood Church team after serving for seventeen years as Director of Children’s Ministries at Westwood Community Church. While at Westwood, Danise led a ministry that consisted of 1,000 children, 250-300 volunteers and 30+ paid staff.
She is experienced, creative, passionate, innovative, and a strong communicator, as well as a proven servant leader and builder of people. Danise excels at working with and through teams, encouraging them toward their personal and collective best; propelling, motivating and compelling all to achieve their highest for the organization at large. Above all else, she is committed to living out and serving the mission and vision of Jesus Christ with love, compassion and humility, believing that we are blessed to be a blessing; and as Christ taught, that we are here to serve, rather than to be served.
Kevin is excited to be serving the students and families of Ridgewood church. Kevin interned at Ridgewood while attending Bethel University where he received his degree in Biblical and Theological Studies.
Kevin is a laid back guy who loves to have fun, even if that is at his own expense. Kevin values relationships deeply and loves to have meaningful conversations. Kevin has a passion to see students come to know and to grow in their relationship with Christ.
Kevin's favorite bible verse is Ephesians 5:1-2 in following God’s example, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Kevin is married to Rachel and father to Kirby, Millie Mae, and Emelyn Ann.
Tom Johnson has been a member of Ridgewood church for over 25 years. He has been active in many ministries of the church, has served on the Board, and was on staff for 5 years as the Director of Finance and Administration. He currently is serving in a volunteer position focusing on strategic planning with a goal of “Making Jesus known through community impact”.
Jill Horn is our Women's Ministry Coordinator. She and her family have been coming to Ridgewood since moving to Minnesota from Texas in 2015. She and her husband Doug have been members since early 2016. She holds two Bachelors degrees, one from Abilene Christian University and a nursing degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. Prior to moving to Minnesota and being blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, she was an Intensive Care nurse in Texas. She also was blessed to be one of the directors of a residential treatment facility for boys while living outside of Detroit.
Jill has always been called by God to care for others and enjoys being His hands and feet here on this earth. Her service in previous congregations includes leadership positions in Women's Ministry, chaperoning short-term youth mission trips, and medical missions to Nigeria. She has a heart for connecting women within the congregation and seeking those who are searching for God's saving grace and love in their lives.
Jill and Doug have two little boys who light up their lives. The family has felt so welcomed and loved by the people of Ridgewood. Jill cannot wait to help other women and families feel the same way!
Lois joined the Ridgewood staff in 1994. She oversees the financial and administrative areas of the church as well as fulfilling her passion to direct short-term mission trips and involvement in the church’s prayer ministry. Lois very much enjoys supporting volunteers and creating an atmosphere within which the staff can thrive.
On a personal note, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and exploring the wonder of God’s creation. She is married to Duane, is mother to three sons, and Nana to six grandchildren.
Leslie joined the staff in 2014 after graduating from Hennepin Technical College. Leslie graduated with an A.S.S. in Professional Commercial Photography and an A.S.S. in Professional Portrait & Wedding Photography. Leslie is a creative mind and loves learning new skills, especially in the media and graphics world.
Leslie and her husband Ryan recently got married in January of 2016. In their free time they enjoy biking, hiking, and traveling through God’s wonderful creation.
Angela joined the Ridgewood staff in September 2016 as a part-time administrative assistant. She loves organizing information and ideas, and she is grateful to have the opportunity to use these skills to serve Ridgewood Church.
Angela graduated from the University of Northwestern in St. Paul and previously worked in an insurance administration role. She and her husband, Jimmy, have been married for 16 years and have three daughters.
Tom LaLonde joined this body of believers in 1995 and came on staff August 2006 as a part-time custodian. He has taught boys' Sunday School for the past 21 years and has been involved with Stephen Ministry and a number of other church-sponsored outreaches.
He and his wife wife, Gail, of 28 years have three children: Isaac, Nathanael, and Joy Marie. Tom enjoys rollerblading, golf, downhill skiing, and just being outdoors. He also enjoys fellowshipping with the Father and trusted friends, and walking and mentoring with people through their joys and life's trials.