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.

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. Lori 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

Jackie Falk has been a member of Pilgrim for almost 40 years. In 2012 she earned her M. Div. degree from United Theological Seminary, and for 2013-2016 served as Pastor for Faith Formation at Peace UCC in Duluth. Jackie can be reached at 218-310-3908 or email


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.


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.