Pastor and Staff

IMG_2789Amy Zalk Larson, Pastor

Pastor Amy Zalk Larson started her schedule as the new pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Monday, August 10, 2015. She was formally installed on September 13, 2015. Pastor Amy is the fifth pastor to serve the church since it was founded in 1958.

Most recently, Pastor Amy served as campus pastor at Luther College where she worked with the Luther Student Congregation as well as students, faculty and staff. Previously, she was the Pastor of Education and Family Life at First Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN and the Intern Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ottawa, IL.

Pastor Amy graduated from Luther College with a BA in religion earned in 1996 and received an MDiv degree from Luther Seminary in 2000.  She was ordained July 9, 2000.  

She is married to Pastor Matt Larson, who is assistant to the bishop of the Southeast Minnesota Synod. They have two children, Nathan and Abby. 

Kelli Gapinski, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry

Kelli was born and raised in Clear Lake, Iowa, and is a proud Luther College graduate class of 2017, majoring in Education. She has been teaching special education in her hometown for the last couple of years. Now, she is looking forward to her next adventure as a special education teacher here at Decorah Middle School. Kelli has one older sister so she is one very devoted auntie to three teenagers! She loves to be outside and active. Yoga, thrifting, plants, and a cup of strong, good coffee are just a few of her passions. Kelli feels it is truly wonderful to be back in the Driftless area. Good Shepherd was a home for her during her college years at Luther. She is grateful and honored  for this opportunity to serve as the CYF director. Her hope as she steps into this role is for all ages to continue to grow in and live out the love of Jesus, through enthusiasm, inclusivity,  and community. She has great anticipatory joy in meeting and working with everyone.

Contact Kelli:

Brooke Joyce, Music Director

Dr. Brooke JoyceBrooke Joyce is Good Shepherd’s Music Director, planning and preparing music for worship services, as well as playing organ and piano. Born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, Brooke earned degrees in music composition from Lawrence University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Princeton University. He is the Composer in Residence at Luther College and a faculty member of the International Music Festival of the Adriatic. Prior to moving to Decorah, he served Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and UCC congregations in Ohio and Virginia. He and his wife, Jennifer Self, are the parents of two sons: Keegan, who made his Good Shepherd debut as baby Jesus in 2010, and Kyle, baptized June 21, 2015.

Contact Brooke:

Erica Yaneff, Ministry Support Coordinator

Erica graduated from St. Olaf College majoring in Religion and Anthropology/Sociology and completed her Masters Degree in Education in Natural Sciences and Environmental Education after working as an educator and manager at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, MN for 5 years. Erica, her husband Nick, and their sons and dogs love spending time outdoors, being active, and sipping some great coffee in town. 
Contact Erica:

Erica works 20 hours per week, some at home and some in the office. Her schedule rotates every other week and is noted on the church google calendar. Voicemails and emails will receive a response within 24 hours on business days.

Tristan Occhipinti, Office & Building Manager

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Tristan Occhipinti, an Iowa native who has called Decorah home for the past eight years, and recently I’ve become a proud homeowner in this wonderful community. For the last thirteen years, my focus has been as a homemaker, supporting my husband’s career as a professor at Luther. I am also an independent video producer. However, I have missed having the opportunity to work with a more diverse group of individuals! In my earlier years, I had the joy of meeting the needs of a church in Iowa City for an extended period, and I am delighted to once again take on such a role.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining you as our new Office and Building Manager, working alongside Pastor Amy, Erica, and this congregation I’ve heard such good things about. My goal is to support and assist everyone in the Good Shepherd family and to make sure the day-to-day operation of the church runs smoothly. I’m really excited about serving this community and can’t wait to meet and get to know each of you!

Mike Sammons, Facilities Caretaker

Mike left Muscatine, Iowa at 18 to join the Army and see the world and ended up in Kansas for 3 years. The Army wasn’t for him but Kansas held his first greenhouse job and a stint as a farm hand at a buffalo farm on the flint hills. Family brought Mike back to Iowa where he has had several diverse and overlapping roles including general manager of an exotic animal farm/retired tree farm, retail greenhouse sales, property manager for a local service provider, grower for a mushroom farm, farmers market farmer on rented land and co-op produce clerk. Mike met Rachael in Iowa city and they now have twin two-year-old daughters, Althea and Eleanor. Mike earned a degree in Renewable energy from Kirkwood Community College, which led to a job as a wind turbine technician and a consulting position with an experimental solar/hydrogen project. “Jack of all trades and master of none” has become more of a goal rather than just a motto for Mike, but the one constant has been a deep connection to the land and growing food for people. Mike is serving as board member, Caretaker, and Special Projects Director at Rerooted Connections, a local nonprofit specializing in permaculture education.

Erik Berg, Security