Pastor & Staff
Pastor Mark Ditmanson
I am Mark Ditmanson, and I have served Bethlehem since 2001. I was ordained in 1986 and served at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in Northeast Minneapolis, and then Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church in Minneapolis before coming to Grand Marias. Prior to becoming a pastor I had worked as a behavior therapist in the MN Correctional System; I also served the A.L.C. as a short-term missionary in Japan.
Being a pastor in a church like Bethlehem is a great joy to me. To be able to serve the full diverse ministry areas of a congregation is a rich blessing. I am passionate about serving families all the way from the joys of baptism, the celebrations of graduations, weddings, and other milestones, through the path of accompanying members in illness, and into the heart-break of loss and the healing of grief. Bible Study and Family Ministry are my particular loves within pastoral ministry. In 2005 I completed my Doctor of Ministry degree focusing on how families can best help their children to grow in faith.
William Strand, Vicar
Hello, I am William Francis Strand, Vicar at Bethlehem and at Trinity from July 2021 through June 2011. Although this position has been known as “Intern Pastor,” I prefer the title “Vicar” as it is the preferred term by my home synod. (The old-fashioned Lutheran title of "Vicar" respects my time and place as a candidate in the ELCA and those who are ordained. The usage of “Intern Pastor” may lead people to call me "Pastor" which I am not comfortable with since I am not ordained.)
I am a senior at Luther Seminary in their Masters of Divinity Distributed Learning Program. My wife Kayla and I hail from Huntsville, Alabama, and both of our families are there. We both went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa Alabama. I majored in History and Religious studies, and my wife majored in Environmental Science. We were married just after college and are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary in July 2021.
Kayla and I are avid cooks, and we both enjoy trying new foods and cuisines. We both have an interest in model building and painting. I paint Warhammer 40k miniatures and other minis, including those that my wife uses in playing Dungeons and Dragons. We also have a few things we collect together including Vinyl, Pokémon cards and games. We were both in the marching band in high school, and I went on to play at Alabama. Growing up we were in scouting programs, Kayla in Girl Scouts and I in Boy Scouts of America, Kayla received a Silver Award and I received the rank of Eagle. We are looking forward to exploring this area.
We have been blessed by our previous opportunities, and I am excited to begin this Culminating Internship. This Internship is the final step before my graduation and, if things go well, my Approval for Ordination. Thank you for welcoming us and I look forward to serving.
Denise Murray, Office Manager
“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
Returning to Bethlehem has been a very welcoming homecoming for Denise, who was a former member many years. Denise joined the Bethlehem staff as the Office Manager in November 2018. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Organizational Management and Communications from Concordia – St. Paul; and is also a board certified Medical Laboratory Technician. (Funny side note: Denise has the job that her husband Tom did for many years!) She is a member at Lutsen Evangelical Lutheran Church, where husband, Pastor Tom, serves as minister. They have 2 adult children, Lauren and Alex. Denise loves to garden, knit and be with family, including her mom, Joan Bieber, and 2 dogs & 2 cats.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
Because of His love and gift of grace I am able to celebrate the good news with you! Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Karina Roth, Organist/Pianist & Choir Director
Karina received her Bachelor’s degree in both music and math from Simpson College in 1996. She is the primary musician at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and music director for the Grand Marais Playhouse. Karina also sings in a jazz quartet and teaches piano lessons. Her other interests include landscaping and working with her socially challenged dog, Ruby.
Favorite Richard Rohr quote: “The whole of creation - not just Jesus - is the beloved community, the partner in the divine dance. Everything is the "child of God" - no exceptions. All creatures must, in some way, carry the divine DNA of their Creator.”
Kileen Limvere, Bookkeeper
Kileen joined Bethlehem’s staff in August 2021. Kileen is a new Cook County resident, formerly from South Dakota. She is employed full-time at Hedstrom Lumber, and has vast experience doing bookkeeping for churches and businesses.
You might recognize her last name because her husband, Enno, is the pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ.
President: Eric Anderson
Vice President: Susan Bragstad
Financial Secretary: Theresa Oberg
Secretary: Susan Anderson
Treasurer: Mark Youngdahl
BLCW Liason: Kathleen Johnson
Church In Society: Jessica Markusen
Membership: Kathleen Johnson
Property: Mike Chmelik
Smart Re-Entry Team: Eric Anderson
Stewardship: (open position)
Worship: Hilja Iverson
Youth and Family: (open position)
Youth Representative: (open position)
Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Grand Marais has a rich heritage. Founded in 1899 by Norwegian immigrants of the Hauge Synod of the Lutheran tradition, Bethlehem has roots in an understanding of faith that is intensely personal and vibrant. Christians of the Hauge tradition believed in personal devotion, in searching Scripture for a meaningful relationship with Jesus, and in a commitment to live one’s faith in daily life.
Within the broader tradition of the Reformation sparked by Martin Luther, a deep appreciation for the living presence of Christ among us, the emphasis on grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and the calling of each Christian to serve God and neighbor in all walks of life are hallmarks of our faith.
As a congregation of the 3.4 million member Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Bethlehem is a partner in the 75.5 million member Lutheran World Federation. We are an ecumenical denomination building bridges of understanding and service with many other denominations. We actively share the Gospel of Christ, seek peace, strive for justice, and work for the well-being of God’s creation. We welcome your partnership in the ministry God calls each of us to do.