Daren Flinck


Pastor Daren has been part of First Church since June of 2013.  Previously, Pastor Daren has served the congregations in St. Croix Valley for 5 years (2008-2013), Fergus Falls (Grace UMC) for 8 years [2000-2008], Vernon Center/Amboy UMC for 7 years [1993-2000], and the Tri-County Parish (Norcross/Tenney/Pepperton UMC’s) for 3 years [1990-1993].  

Pastor Daren has a Master of Divinity degree (United Theological Seminary – New Brighton, MN in 1994) and a Doctorate of Ministry degree (Drew University – Madison, NJ in 2004).  He also received his bachelor’s degree in management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN in 1990.  His 12 years of business management experience prior to entering the ministry has helped him a great deal in applying Scripture to real life situations.

Pastor Daren is a lifelong Minnesotan, growing up near Coleraine, Minnesota.  He has always been a United Methodist Christian..  Married since 1974 to his wife Nancy, they have three grown children and eight grandsons and one step-granddaughter.  He enjoys playing his trombone, loves to sing in the choir, and playing drums for the praise band.  He’ll take an opportunity here and there to play a round of golf or two when he gets the chance.  In truth, he loves to be around his children and his grandchildren.

You can access Pastor Daren’s blog here or request to be a friend on his Facebook account.  He’s always happy to hear from you!

Gretchen O'Donnell

family life coordinator

Gretchen O'Donnell is our family life coordinator!  Gretchen has lived in the Midwest since 1994, and Worthington since 1997, when she came as a newlywed and fresh-from-Bethel-Seminary graduate.  Her undergrad degree is in English, from the University of Oregon.  Go Ducks!

Gretchen’s husband, Colin, is Vice President of Engineering at Bedford Industries. They have three children, Ian, Katie and Lucy, the only one still at home.

Gretchen is a freelance writer, a prolific reader, a novice baker of bread and a crafter. As a transplant from the Pacific Northwest, she misses the mountains and the ocean here on the prairie, but has learned to find beauty in the fields and lakes of Minnesota.

Lori Nienkerk


Lori is a lifelong resident of the Worthington area, attending schools in Bigelow, Worthington, and the Junior College.  She is also a lifelong member of First Lutheran Church.  Lori and Craig were married in 1973, have two children, and seven grandchildren.  Craig passed away in 2019.  She comes to First Church with office experience of 30 plus years.  Lori enjoys playing golf, cards, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Lisa Gerdes

middle school youth leader

Lisa's passion is working with young people in the development of their faith.  Lisa has been workiing with the middle school youth for five years now and we are so blessed to have her leadership in this area.

Jolene Kuhl


Jolene loves to play the organ in church.  she has been the primary organist at First Church for many years and enjoys her craft immensely.

Jeanette Jenson

choir director

Jeanette brings a love for music and the joy of teaching together as she leads our chancel choir.  A music educator in the local school district, Jeanette is a joy to have as our choir director, sharing her passion and love for the Lord in her music.

Brenda DeSmith

Bell choir director - CHOIR ACCOMPANIST

Brenda has a huge love and long legacy for music in the Worthington area.  She also brings her mutli-talented passion for playing, singing, and bell ringing to share with our church and community.  We are blessed to have Brenda as a part of our musical expression of faith.