Our Staff

Pastor Erin Heidelberger

Lead Pastor

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Pastor Erin Heidelberger

Lead Pastor

Pastor Erin began serving with the people of First Lutheran in August 2021. She previously served as co-pastor and then lead pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota. A native of Nebraska (born in Grand Island), she grew up in Brookings, SD. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 1996 with a BA in Spanish and Political Science. She received a Graduate of Christian Studies in 2004 from Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and her M.Div. from Luther Seminary in 2015. She has been married to Cory for almost 20 years, and they have a 15-year-old daughter, Katarzyna. In ministry, Pastor Erin is passionate about helping others see and experience God’s grace in their lives.

Pastor Suzanne How

Transitional Associate Pastor

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Pastor Suzanne How

Transitional Associate Pastor

Pastor Suzanne served two churches in rural Gage County, NE, before returning to Omaha recently to help care for her soon-to-be 91 year old mother. She earned a B.S. in Social Psychology in 2000 and an MDiv from Luther Seminary in 2017. Pastor Suzanne is passionate about helping people discover their spiritual gifts and engaging the living God through Scripture. She is looking forward to accompanying the people of First Lutheran until the permanent Associate Minister is called by the congregation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Marsha Anderson

Visitation Pastor

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Marsha Anderson

Visitation Pastor

Marsha Anderson began her ministry as Visitation Pastor at First Lutheran in May, 2012. Previously, she served congregations in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska City, Nebraska, until she retired in December, 2010. She attended Californial Lutheran University, University of California in Santa Barbara, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley and was ordained on July 15, 1983. She loves getting together with friends and family, reading (mysteries, romances, and spirituality), playing Scrabble and Dominoes and doing counted cross-stitch. She is a certified Spiritual Director with background in the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory and the Enneagram. She loves making connections with people and helping people connect with what is important to them, especially their journey with God.

Sharon Hardel

Director of Youth and Family Ministry

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Sharon Hardel

Director of Youth and Family Ministry

I come to First Lutheran from Chambersburg, PA, where I served as Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry for 16+ years. I felt welcomed and part of the First family from the first day. I am excited about the opportunities to work with youth and families of all ages. I am married to Kent Hardel who previously worked at Camp Carol Joy Holling (my only previous introduction to Nebraska). I am a graduate of Penn State University with a B.S. in Dairy and Animal Science and am also a Gettysburg Seminary Youth Ministry Certification School graduate. In my spare time I enjoy music, movies, gardening, crafts, board games, camping and sports. I like to play softball and volleyball and I cheer on the Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Laura Graulty

FaithTrek Coordinator

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Laura Graulty

FaithTrek Coordinator

I have been a member of First for almost 27 years.  I’ve taught all grades of Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I recently retired from East High where I taught Social Studies and Family Consumer Science for 13 years. I spent my first 12 years here in Lincoln teaching at Huntington Elementary, grades 1, 4,and 5. Before that, I was a 3rd grade teacher in Lubbock, TX. I am endorsed to teach K-12, so am well versed in the younger congregation. I have a daughter, Madison, who lives in Laramie, WY, and works for the University of Wyoming in the engineering department. FaithTrek families will find Sundays fun and vibrant with an engaging way to teach and instill Christ in our younger congregation!

Masako Bacon

Director of Music and Worship

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Masako Bacon

Director of Music and Worship

Masako is married to Boyd. Together, they enjoy serving our energizing worship community. She loves solid, yet lively liturgical worship services at First Lutheran Church. She is the organist and directs handbell choir, small ensembles and coordinates the music program.

Boyd Bacon

Director of Music and Worship

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Boyd Bacon

Director of Music and Worship

Boyd is excited to be at First Lutheran and to lead the choral program. He enjoys people developing their hidden talents – singing to the glory of God. He recently retired from Nebraska Wesleyan University where he taught voice and directed two choirs. He likes to compose choral music and has many pieces published. He enjoys family time.

Vicar Erick Hill

Vicar

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Vicar Erick Hill

Vicar

Hello! I am Vicar Erick Hill. I began my 12-month internship at First Lutheran August 2022. I am a native of Lincoln, attending Northeast High School. After graduation I enlisted in the U.S. Army. I attended UNL following the service and eventually received my doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I also completed a master’s degree through the UNL Law School with an emphasis on conflict resolution. Prior to ministry,I worked for National Research Corporation and CHI Health. I attended Luther Seminary and will graduate May 2023 with my M.Div. My wife, Kimberly, and I live in Omaha with our 14-year-old son, Daniel. My daughter, Grace, attends UNO.

Kathleen Simley

Communications Director

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Kathleen Simley

Communications Director

A member of First Lutheran Church since 1988, Kathleen served first as our part-time Communications Coordinator, starting in November of 2015, and in December of 2020, accepted the call to serve full-time as our Communications Director. “First Lutheran Church is so rich in ministry with many faith-filled stories to be told and shared with the First Lutheran and larger community. I am blessed to have the opportunity to share the good works of First Lutheran Church!” Kathleen has been an active volunteer at First Lutheran in many capacities over the years. Her two adult children, Christopher and Rebecca, were baptized, raised and are also active members of First Lutheran. Outside of church, Kathleen has her own consulting, training and coaching business. She has traveled to all 50 states and 4 other countries for her work. In her spare time, she enjoys videography, cooking, outdoor yardwork and watching the Kansas City Royals.

Cyndi Crouse

Parish Coordinator

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Cyndi Crouse

Parish Coordinator

Cyndi Crouse and her husband Gary, have been members at First Lutheran since 2009. Cyndi joined the First Lutheran Church staff in December 2016. Her responsibilities include maintaining church records, coordinating the church calendar, collaborating on various church publications and is the friendly voice you will likely hear when you call.  Cyndi and her husband, Gary, have two grown children and four grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys her family and friends, the great outdoors, cinema, and fabulous food often combining these activities. She also likes to ride her bike on the city trails, practice Yoga, take nature hikes, tour museums, art galleries and zoos.

Wyatt Swanson

Church Accountant

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Wyatt Swanson

Church Accountant

Wyatt moved to Lincoln in 2018 to attend UNL, where he completed his Bachelor’s and Masters in Accounting. In his free time, he enjoys being outdoors and volunteering. He spends a lot of time on the pickleball courts and would love to introduce the sport to anyone interested!

Bryan Hanson

Church Accountant

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Bryan Hanson

Church Accountant

Bryan is a long-time member of First Lutheran. Bryan and his wife, Sandy, are both retired. They have two children who live in Lincoln and Omaha and five grandchildren. Bryan enjoys exercising, golf and working in the yard in his spare time.

Alex Gray

Building Superintendent

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Alex Gray

Building Superintendent

I am a full-time student at Southeast Community College majoring in Non-Destructive Testing. During my free time, I enjoy biking the many wonderful paths in Lincoln, gardening, watching sports (especially football and hockey) and spending time outdoors.

since 1870

Our History

The congregation of First Lutheran Church has been meeting since 1870. Its founders were convinced that the community of Lincoln was in need of a church that focuses on practical, Biblical teaching as well as engaging the surrounding community. Over the years, our congregation has evolved to meet the needs of our people and serve each other well. We’re committed to being a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds and to continue our legacy of supporting our city with a heritage of faith.

A Storied Tradition

What we believe

We share a faith in Jesus Christ with billions of others, and we find that our faith is most understandable to us when we view it through a Lutheran theological lens.

Formally, that means we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, revealed to us in the Bible, expressed in the Church’s historic Creeds and witnessed to by the Lutheran Confessions.

God

  • The Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the means of our salvation from sin and death.
  • The Old and New Testaments as God’s Word, witnessing to God’s actions through time and God’s promises to believers.

Salvation

  • By grace alone – God’s free and undeserved gift;
  • Through faith alone – apart from any work or worth on our part;
  • In the Word of God alone – Jesus Christ, whom we know through Scripture.

Practice

  • Baptism as a sacrament, the means of grace whereby God claims us in a relationship of lifelong growth in faith and discipleship; and as the sign of each person’s vocation or “calling,” his or her role in the world for the sake of God.
  • Holy Communion as a sacrament, the means of grace whereby the believer encounters the very presence of Jesus Christ through bread and wine, receiving forgiveness and the assurance of everlasting life as surely as he or she sees, smells, feels and tastes the food and drink.
  • The Priesthood of All Believers; the understanding that all Christians are called to ministry within the Church and throughout their daily lives.

 Join Us in Our Mission to Transform the World as Disciples of Jesus Christ

We welcome all, including you, to join us as we learn, serve, worship and pray as a faith community. We hold New Member Classes twice a year, in March and October, but don’t let that stop you from jumping in anytime and becoming involved in any of our ministries that interest you. Formal membership is not needed for you to be welcomed into our community.