Pilgrim Staff

Our staff guides, directs and supports our congregation in ministry, but the ministry of the church belongs to all of us.



The Rev. Dr. Karen Schuder began her service as Called Minister in October, 2016, following the retirement of Rev. Charlotte Frantz in January, 2015 and the Intentional Interim Ministership of Rev. Jennifer Amy-Dressler.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Family Life from Montana State University, a Masters of Arts in Management from the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, a Masters of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary, and an Educational Doctorate in Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. Her graduate work focused on professional development, ethics, organizational development, and cultural differences.  From August, 1998 through June, 2010 she served as pastor of Hillside United Methodist Church in Duluth. While working on her doctorate Pastor Karen has been helping numerous non-profit organizations and churches providing interim leadership, strategic planning, leadership development, and other consulting services.  

Pastor Karen has worked hard over the years helping people whether it be coaching youth athletic teams or volunteering with non-profit organizations.  Organizations she has supported include CHUM, the Southern St. Louis County Council to Prevent Child Abuse, Community Action Duluth, Global Brigades, and Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos in Honduras.    Pastor Karen and her husband, Steven Schuder, D.V.M. of Duluth Veterinary Hospital, have three young adult children (Joshua, Caleb, and Sophia), one retired sled dog, and a shy cat.

If at any time you would like to meet with Pastor Karen or have a pastoral visit, you are welcome to email her ( or call the church office at (218) 724-8503. If you have a pastoral emergency after church hours, please feel free to call her at home (218) 728-6205.

Music Staff

Rachael Kresha is Pilgrim’s Director of Music Programs, Organist, and handbell choir director.  Rachael is an active recitalist in the Twin Ports area. She received her Masters in Music at Emory University, where she studied organ with Timothy Albrecht and piano with Deborah Thoreson. Her undergraduate degrees are from the University of Wisconsin Superior and Cottey College. She studied organ with Norma Stevlingson and Colleen Pearman. Rachael is also an active music educator. She teaches early childhood music classes, “Joyful Noise,” and “Prelude,” at Pilgrim Congregational Church. She also has a private piano and organ studio in Duluth. In addition, she teaches global drumming at Lowell elementary school.

Dr. Bret Amundson is Pilgrim’s Choir Director.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN; a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from St. Cloud University; and a Doctor of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington in Seattle.  Bret is the Director of Choral Activities at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.  In addition, he directs the Lake Superior Youth Chorus’s Concert Chorus and is a member of several educational and choral professional organizations.

Administrative Staff

Mary Sopoci is Pilgrim’s Business Manager. She is a graduate of the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth and has worked in church administration for more than 23 years. Mary is responsible for maintaining financial records for the church and works closely with the church treasurer and the trustees. Mary schedules use of the building.

Lorli Woitas is Pilgrim’s Administrative Assistant and coordinates office services, and serves as receptionist. She is a graduate of Oakland University, in Rochester, Michigan, and is an artist that works in multiple mediums, with a focus in graphic design and oil painting. She and her husband recently moved to Duluth from Michigan, where their two adult daughters still reside. Lorli can be reached at

Child Care Attendant

Annika Nielsen and various parent volunteers staff the Children’s Place on Sunday mornings and when needed during the week.  Annika is a certified babysitter (“American Red Cross Babysitting Basics”), and has previous experience assisting with Pilgrim’s Joyful Noise and the Pilgrim Nursery. Her hobbies include singing, drawing, tennis, writing, animals and reading.

Children and Family Ministries Coordinator

Mark Hakes was born in St. Paul, then moved to Iowa, and then back to Minnesota, but he did most of his growing up in Florida. He attended Stetson University in DeLand, FL and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with minors in History and German. After he graduated, he moved to Duluth and earned a master’s degree (also in voice) at UMD. When finished at UMD, he served as an AmeriCorps member at Men as Peacemakers for a year and joined the staff at Peace Church, where he worked as the Youth and Children’s Minister for 3 years. Mark can be reached at 218-724-5803 or email

Volunteer Coordinator

Steve Cushing serves in the newly created role of Volunteer Coordinator at Pilgrim Church. The Volunteer Coordinator allows for systematic recruitment, training, tracking and support of volunteers, with the goal that church members are aware of and engaged in meaningful activities that match their interests and talents.

As a 30 year member of Pilgrim who has served on virtually every committee and ad hoc group in the church, and as the leader of “The Godly Gourmet” fundraiser for 5 years, and as an instrumental leader on the Pilgrim Sunday Service being cablecast on PACT-TV, Steve’s experience and leadership in this area will help clarify the needs related to this new position. Steve can be reached at, or via the church office.


Pilgrim is a volunteer organization and most of the work carried out by the congregation is done by members who give of their time and energy. Some members serve in leadership capacities and most members are involved in some phase of the congregation’s ministry. A Church Council, made up of members elected by the congregation, oversees and coordinates the work of the church. The staff offers resources, guidance and support in planning and implementing the work of the church.


In addition to our professional staff, Befrienders from our congregation are trained to offer a ministry of listening and encouragement for persons facing life transitions or crises. Their volunteer work is an important adjunct to the care extended by the rest of the staff. A new class of Befrienders is currently being recruited and will receive training in early summer. To contact a Befreinder, please contact the Pilgrim office.