Ministry Team

Pastor Lawrence Richardson (Lead Minister) 

 

Rev. Richardson is a pastor, prophet, evangelist and author. He is a graduate of St. Catherine University and Liberty Seminary, where he was trained in Sociology, Communications, Pastoral Care, Evangelism and Christian Ministry. Rev. Richardson also has completed certifications for Anti-Racism Facilitator Training, Our Whole Lives Sexuality Training, Church Planting, Digital Media Strategy and Executive Leadership Coaching. He is on staff as a media trainer at Auburn Seminary and as an executive clergy coach for the Center for Progressive Renewal. Rev. Richardson also has active partnerships with the Evangelical Church of Germany, collaborating on digital ministry projects.

 

The author of I know What Heaven Looks Like, Rev. Richardson writes about and advocates for LGBTQ people, people of color and the flourishing of all. His works have appeared in Huffington Post Religion, The Root, Believe Out Loud, The Salt Collective, Rachel Murr’s Unnatural: Spiritual Resiliency in Queer Christian Women, Austen Hartke’s Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians, and numerous other national and international publications. He has received awards and commendations for his service from Black Transmen, Inc. and the Stellar Awards for his work in global communication.

 

When he is not ministering, researching or writing, Pastor Lawrence loves reading, trying different cuisines, traveling, spending time with his family and empowering people to live life from a place of joy, abundance, faith and gratitude.


Pastor Eliot Howard (Transition Minister)

 

Pastor Eliot Howard has served three United Church of Christ Congregations in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont. Born, baptized and ordained in the United Church of Christ, his ministry is energized by a deep belief in congregations as a place where people from all walks of life and experiences can find authentic community and be a place to live out ones call to be Christ's hands, feet and heart in the world.

 

The elements of church life and leadership that most excite him in the times in which we find ourselves are in the areas of spiritual guidance, social justice ministry and building a 21st century model for shared ministry with Pastor Lawrence and leaders of Linden Hills UCC.

 

Eliot is married to Jan Howard, an account manager with Cigna. She and Eliot have three adult children; Sarah, Sam and Kurt, and three grandchildren - all living in the Twin Cities. Eliot enjoys spending time outdoors engaging in simple pursuits such as walking and working in the yard. He is a patient and loyal fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves.  


Rev Norma Burton (Community Minister)

 

Rev. Burton is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in St Paul.

She was Associate Pastor of Hobart United Methodist Church, Minneapolis;  Pastor of Olivet United Methodist Church, Robbinsdale; and Pastor of Faith United Church of Christ, Minneapolis.

 

Rev. Burton has been a Christian educator for 30 years. She was editor for the Christian Education document Whole People of God, and trainer for the curriculum. She served as a consultant for Christian Education at Pilgrim United Church of Christ and All Nations United Church of Christ, both in Minneapolis.

 

She and her late husband Robert are parents to two adult children. Rev. Burton likes to read, knit and color, and loves living in her senior retirement apartment where she conducts regular vespers services, and leads a Bible study group, which meets at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings.


Daniel Pederson (Minister of Music)

 

Daniel has been serving at Linden Hills UCC since the summer of 2016. He directs the adult choir, leads worship music from the piano and organ, and works with the pastors and lay leaders to plan the worship and music life of the congregation. He has held similar positions in Minneapolis, Sunfish Lake, and Hallock, MN; and Fargo, Grand Forks, and Walcott, ND, over the past 30 years.

 

He has several choral works published by Augsburg Fortress and Pavane (Hal Leonard) and is a member of the Minneapolis vocal ensemble InVocation Singers. Daniel is also currently the Communications Manager at Roseville Lutheran Church.

 

He lives in Minneapolis with his husband, the Rev. Dennis Sanders.


Alexander Farino (Office Coordinator)

 

Alex is a born and raised Midwesterner who, after spending five years in Philadelphia, moved to Minnesota in early 2018. The lure of a better quality of life, the great arts and culture scene, the progressive and accepting environment, the parks, the nature and the seasons (including winter) made the Twin Cities the perfect new home. After a career in opera and theatrical production, he is excited to be using his experience to support the members of Linden Hills UCC to advance their mission and promote the many programs that make this congregation so wonderful and blessed and bring the teachings of Jesus to Linden Hills and the wider community.

 

He is is responsible for keeping the church office humming, keeping Linden Hills UCC’s presence visible in the community through the website and social media, producing the weekly order of service, print and email editions of the weekly newsletter, The Linden Tree. He also assists with accounting and financial reporting.

 

Alex lives in North Minneapolis with his husband, Polish- born painter, Marcin Cienski, and their two transplanted pups: Bodie, a Lab collie mix from New Jersey and Mala, a dachshund corgi mix from Poland.