Shelley Willem –  Interim Pastor


Shelley Willem

The November 2016 Autobiography

A friend’s Christmas letter took a different format a few years ago and I liked it. It came to mind when I contemplated writing this latest version of an autobiography. This too will have a different format.

Most recent book read:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – recommended by friends and colleagues it has taught me much about how unbalanced our system is.

Favorite fiction:
Wicked, Cold Sassy Tree and Mists of Avalon – these books took me into their imaginative world. I laughed and I cried.

Recent movie in a theater:
‘Captain America: Civil War’ – yes, I am a fan of the Marvel Universe. I must say I enjoyed ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ more in part because it has the best soundtrack ever!

Favorite food:
Depends on whom I’m with and where I am. In Berkeley, CA it’s Zachary’s Pizza, at my brother’s it’s anything he fixes on the grill, in Washington, DC it is Argentine Beef and in Ballard, WA it’s anything that is seasoned from the herb garden. So far in Bend it is Laughing Planet and Pilot Butte Drive In.

Highlights of the year:
Singing Rutter’s Requiem on All Saints Sunday finished off a delightful two month Interim at Central Lutheran Church in Eugene. This was my second “Best Gig Ever!” in a row following a wonderful experience at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Portland. I’m looking forward to my 3rd in a row here at Grace First!

My statement of Ministry (and the mantra when things get rough):
The Holy Spirit is in charge – She has honorable intentions – My job is to listen and act accordingly.

What I like about this format is that it provides a window into what’s important to me now. What it misses is my history, things like growing up at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon, my mom’s death when I was 11, spending the summer alone in Europe at 22, working as a software consultant for 10 years, living at Holden Village for a year, and serving 7 congregations since my ordination on the Sunday of Martin Luther King weekend 2003. These stories, and many others, will wait until we meet and talk face to face.

A Final Word about me (and you too):
“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.” 1 John 3:2.



Lynn Heilman – Administrative Assistant

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and am happy to be living in Oregon with my family.I attended Pitzer College in Southern P1010977California where I earned a degree in Sociology. After college, I moved back to the NW and began a rewarding 18 year career in human resources administration. During that time, I met the love of my life, my husband Kip. We married on a very rainy (but they say lucky) day in Seattle, and have two beautiful children. Puget Sound traffic and a chance job interview for Kip led our family to Bend over 9 year ago. It was the most powerful and beneficial decision we have ever made and our kids who are now in middle and elementary school have thoroughly enjoyed their lives and upbringing here. I volunteer at my kids schools and was a Cub Scout leader for 6 years, but missed the working world. I saw the opportunity at GFLC and knew it would be a great fit. Grace First Lutheran is the church where I taught cub scouts for years, I knew Pastor Joel and the staff, and thought this would be a perfect opportunity. I am so happy to be here at GFLC in a role where I can contribute and give back to the church who gave so much to me and my scouts, and to be in a position where I know I can make a difference.



Barbara Novelli – Director of Youth Ministries

Barb Novelli - Resize


Shanna Sharp -Youth Ministries Coordinator

shanna-oct-16I love music and movies. I function best on two brownies. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife and a mom to two boys and one girl. I can pair almost any song from the 80’s to the movie it was a soundtrack for. I love to sing and my singing voice is awful., but that will not stop me! I love all types of people and I enjoy the small and large group dynamics. I enjoy seeing the ever changing phases of children and youth. The University of Phoenix is where I earned my undergraduate degree where I studied Human Services. I am a helper and my heart is for social justice and advocating for the correction of injustices, both big and small. I know life is not always easy and mistakes are made. I’ve made my fair share. I also know I am wholly loved and affirmed by Jesus Christ! I will fight for and continue to spread the same love Jesus showed and still shows through so many people, and that is without a doubt; wholly inclusive, peaceful, and with space for Grace.


P1010383 (2)Dana Topliff – Parish Nurse

Dana has been a Registered Nurse and a Parish Nurse for many years.  Her background in nursing includes medical/surgical, emergency trauma, home health, and she is currently a Professor of Nursing at COCC in Bend.  She volunteered as a Parish Nurse in a former congregation for over ten years and is now serving as one of the Parish Nurses at Grace First Lutheran Church.  Her Parish Nurse involvement began in San Francisco, CA where she was an education consultant for Bay Area Health Ministries.  Dana worked with a team that instructed registered nurses how to become Parish Nurses.  She also was sent to Atlanta Georgia to learn to be a facilitator for  “Training for Transformation”.  After the “Training for Transformation” training Dana, worked with someone from the Carter Center and led “Training for Transformation” workshops in Southern CA.  Basically she taught nurses and other health personnel how to go into a community and work with people to help them with health and change.