Meet the Grace Team
Rev. Brent Dahlseng Senior Pastor
Grace Church and Preschool is an incredible community of which I am blessed to serve as its senior pastor since 2006. I am humbled to serve together with a passionate staff and a strong lay leadership team. If you know Jody, you know how blessed I am to be her husband since 1979. Jody is a person of great faith and prayer and the mom of our four children and eleven grandchildren.
Before being called to serve at Grace, it was my great joy to serve God and this church through our national (churchwide) office in Chicago (1999-2006). Our family grew up in Upstate New York where I had the awesome opportunity to plant a mission church (1986-1999). I cut my teeth in ministry in my first call in rural Flandreau, South Dakota (1982-1986). There have been many mentors, great friends, and colleagues for whom I am indebted including professors at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. The journey continues!
Rev. Amanda Dahlseng-Monroe Associate Pastor
Hello! I am Pastor Amanda and I am so excited to meet you. Being a pastor here at Grace Loves Park is such a honor for me, to have the privilege of walking alongside people in our journeys. I graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 2022 and am delighted that Grace Loves Park is my first call. My husband, Darin, and I reside in Rockford with our three kids: Grace, Jamisen, and Case Orville. Outside of work and family life, I am very passionate about running, playing music and reading a good book. You can often find me out on the trails, at a coffee shop, or cuddled up somewhere reading. But my biggest passion of all is living out the Gospel message that God loves each and every one of us, just as we are. If you haven’t heard that message yet today, hear it now: you are loved beyond measure, today, right now, just as you are. I hope to get to know you, your passions, your journey and your story. Peace.
Rev. Ralph Kuespert Visitation Pastor
I was born in South Bend, Indiana and was married in Michigan City, Indiana to my wife Gayle in 1966. We have two daughters, Heidi and Amanda. I like to say I followed Heidi into the ministry, she graduated from Wartburg Seminary in 2001 and I started my seminary training there in July 2001. I graduated from Wartburg in 2005, served as Interim Pastor at First Lutheran in Plano, IL from August 2005 – July 2006. I was called to serve Bethlehem Lutheran in Rockford and was there from September 2006 – December 31, 2014. I most recently served as Interim Pastor at Capron Lutheran Church from March 2016 – July 2020. In my previous life (Before Seminary) I worked for Associates Corporation (A major finance company) for 38 years. I began my career there as a mail boy, then became a computer programmer in 1965. After a two year stint in the US Army (April 66 – March 68) I returned to Associates to continue my life in computer work. I ended my career there in 2021 and started seminary shortly thereafter. Our daughter Heidi is married to Kent Happel, both are pastors, but Heidi is on disability due to her MS. They have one daughter, Victoria (Tori) who is now a Chiropractor. They all live in Kansas. Our daughter Mandi is married to Travis Horstman, and they live in Onalaska, WI. They have two daughters, Savannah, a sophomore at UW-Milwaukee, and Trinity, a high school sophomore. Gayle and I have lived in Rockford since 2006. Prior to going to seminary, we lived in Hurst, TX for 21 years. Gayle’s mother, Maxine Powell has lived with us since 2016. I look forward to being your Visitation Pastor and being able to share our stories.
Stacie Leese Preschool Director
Stacie has worked for Grace Loves Park since 2007. Starting as Preschool teacher and Assistant Director, she took over the Director role in 2015. During the pandemic she has expanded her duties to help with Sunday School and family events. Stacie and her husband, Bill, have 4 sons, all of whom have grown up at Grace. She also enjoys playing with the bell choir and working in the sound booth.
Kathy Bergeron Executive Administrator
I was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. I graduated from Harlem High School. Bob and I have been married since 1981, have two adult children: Jennifer and Bobby. One granddaughter, Saylor. We love going to the cabin in Spooner, Wisconsin and spending time with family. I have worked at Grace since 1989.
Rachel WIlliams Assistant Administrator
Samantha Petersen Youth Ministry Director
My name is Samantha Petersen and I’m the Youth Ministry Director at Grace Lutheran Church. I have grown up at Grace, attending Sunday School, Conformation, the Youth group, along with events like VBS. The people at Grace have helped me learn how God is involved in everything, from the big things to the little things. Whenever my faith came into question I was able to lean on my church family to help me through it. It was nice to know that I could count on someone to be there for me. I’m glad I get to be there for the youth, guiding them in their faith and lives.
Gloria Lynn Director of Music & Worship
Kari Maratos Choir Director
Kari has served in leading worship with Grace Lutheran’s Sanctuary Choir since September of 2010. Working with the talented members of this group has been so fulfilling for her, both artistically and spiritually! Kari is a native Iowan who grew up loving to sing. She came to Rockford to study musical theatre performance at Rockford College and stayed after meeting her wonderful husband. They are owners of a beautiful Movie Theater, and love spending time as a family with their son Taki. Kari is available for private lessons in Piano, and voice on Sundays at Grace. Kari is excited for the future at Grace as she begins to take on more responsibilities with the church this fall!
Mary Frykman Financial Secretary
I began working at Grace Lutheran preschool in 1985 as an aide and for the church as the financial secretary in 1994. I love the sense of community and outreach that this church has become. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ and I see that in so many ways. My husband Andy and I were married here at Grace in 1977. We were raised in Loves Park, but we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota following our wedding. We moved back to this area in 1981 and have been at this church since that time. We are blessed with our sons, Jim and Mike, their wives (who are now our daughters) Julie and Amber and seven wonderful grandchildren. I enjoy cooking, bowling, laughter, going for relaxing rides on our pontoon, Cub and Bear games and especially time spent with our family and friends. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on this staff. God has filled my life with so much goodness. For that, I give thanks.
Lucy Axe NurseryAttendant
Hello my name is Lucy, and I am 17 years old. I am so excited to be working in the nursery. I really love kids. I am thinking about going to college for early childhood education, so this will help me decide if it is the right path. In my free time I love singing dancing and hanging out with friends. So excited to work in the nursery.