Dave Benedict, Lead Pastor


Dave Benedict, Lead Pastor

Bachelor of Arts, Communications: Washington State University
Teaching Credentials: Seattle Pacific University
Master of Divinity: Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia
Ordained to Word and Sacrament

Pastor Dave has a love for theology and a passion to speak God's truth and has called the Evangelical Covenant denomination home since 1977. After having served vocationally in the Evangelical Covenant denomination since 1983 as a Pastor and as an Associate Superintendent, Dave came north in 2012 to answer the call of The Covenant Church in Bemidji. His wife, the always gracious Martha, and sons, Paul David and Robin, both grown and out of the home, are his heart, but he saves a bit for the Kansas Jayhawks and the Seattle Mariners, although Dave readily admits his loyalty to the Mariners is based on hope more than numbers. Hiking, bicycle riding, and playing the guitar are some of his favorite ways to unwind from the stress of watching his baseball team lose. We're so grateful they have made their home with us despite the cold winters!


Dean Nelson, Associate Pastor, Adult Ministries & Leadership Development


Dean Nelson, Associate Pastor

Adult Ministries & Leadership Development

Bachelor of Science, Business: University of Wisconsin River Falls
Master of Divinity, Biblical Studies: North Park Seminary
Doctor of Ministry, Preaching: North Park Seminary
Ordained to Word and Sacrament

Pastor Dean has been with The Covenant since 1994, working in vocational ministry for five years before that. Besides becoming a master of the grill, he is passionate about learning, friendship and the arts; using his gifts, Dean enjoys creating opportunities for people to learn and grow in Christ together whether that is in a classroom or on a golf course. He believes in the power of discipleship and looks for ways to connect people in meaningful dialogue. Pastor Dean brings the tradition of sacro desco to the Covenant Church, seeking to build meaningful relationship around tables. It is his passion to see community created at The Covenant through hospitality, building friendships and sharing values. He and his lovely wife, Kathy, will be married 30 years in 2015, with 3 adult children, Jordan, Kelsey (Tomas), and Kylie, all teachers who seem to have inherited his passion for learning and teaching. Dean loves his family and friends, he loves learning, cooking and golfing, but most of all, he loves Jesus. 


Doug Giese, Associate Pastor, Marriage & Family Ministries, Unleashing Ministries


Doug Giese, Associate Pastor

Marriage & Family Ministries, Unleashing Ministries

Bachelor of Arts, Biblical Studies & Christian Ministries: Oak Hills Christian College
Master of Science, Family Life Ministry: Concordia University

Pastor Doug has a heart as big as the great outdoors! In vocational ministry since 1987, he has been with us at The Covenant since 2004, caring and counseling hurting people, teaching, coaching and encouraging for stronger marriages and families, creating a safe place for young and old alike. Many confessions of faith happen on Doug’s couch, and many relationships begin to heal there. Doug’s deep desire is to reflect the love of Christ into the dark places of brokenness that only God’s love can mend. With a twinkle in his eye, and a huge smile on his face, Doug is truly a reflection of that love. Along with his wife, Jan, to whom he accounts all wisdom and patience, they have four children, all married, and 10 wonderful grandchildren, who are, in the eyes of their grandpa, the best, smartest, and funniest grandchildren ever! Oh! And their parents are pretty great, too. Doug’s great escape is in landscaping and gardening, with the most lush green lawn and bright flowers you’ll ever see in Northern Minnesota.


Jim Murphy, Associate Pastor, NextGen Ministries


Jim Murphy, Associate Pastor

Next Generation Ministries

Bachelor of Arts, Biblical Studies: Oak Hills Christian College
Master of Divinity, Family Ministries: Bethel Theological Seminary
Ordained to Word and Sacrament

Pastor Jim is a man with a mission and his heart is easy to see when it comes to the next generation. As Pastor of NextGen Ministries, Jim supports the various teams who minister to kids, students, and young adults––cradle to college. He has been in ministry since 1992, and here at The Covenant since 2006. His passion is to see kids grow up in our church, feeling a sense of belonging both to God and to our church family, and helping them find their identity in Christ. For students, Jim’s teaching uses scripture and story, characterized by grace and a call to mission, empowering students to contribute to the Kingdom. For young adults, his desire is to help them stay strong in the faith by connecting them in small groups with each other and with adults who will mentor and coach them. His charming wife, Deanna, and their two golden-haired girls, Natalie and Greta, are what brings him home, and he loves spending time with them! He loves to snowboard, wakeboard, play basketball and softball, but sci-fi and Disney movies are how he relaxes in the winter. Summer finds him at home on his John Deere, driving around the yard. His lawn is a thing of beauty!


Lori Brama, Manager, Office


Lori Brama, Manager

Office & Finance

Bachelor of Science, Education, Social Studies & German: Bemidji State University

Lori is “She Who Holds It All Together.” She has worked in bookkeeping and business management since 1980, joining The Covenant family in 1995. Office Manager seems like such a simple title for someone who is responsible for keeping the church moving along with her gifts of organization and administration, communications, calendar and facilities scheduling, budget, payroll, and accounting, and many other tasks fall under her purview. Lori manages the church's Operations with excellence and efficiency, no matter what crisis arises. She and her husband Gary have been married since 1976, with two grown daughters, Holly and Nicole, and 5 grandkids who keep her laughing. But her 3 “fur” kids are her favorite playmates – taking part in dog sports like flyball, agility, and obedience many weekends out of the year. Lori is also heavily involved in 4H both locally and in the state, specializing in dog training and poultry. Her dog training and obedience classes are well known in the area, and when she has a spare moment, reading and audio books are how she unwinds. Chocolate and coffee are her weaknesses and she is hands down, queen of the office prank.


Nate Ringennberg, Manager, Facilities


Nate Ringgenberg, Manager


Bachelor of Arts, Christian Ministries & Biblical Studies: Oak Hills Christian College

Nate is a true servant of God with a seemingly endless supply of patience and understanding. A member of the Covenant since 1986, he is a wealth of stories about the legacy of this church family. He began working in his current position in 1993. Much has changed since then, but his constant care for both the people and the building's Operations are easily seen. Married to his lovely wife Sue since 1973, they have three children and eight grandchildren. When not hard at work at the Covenant, he is home tinkering with his antique cars, a ’37 Dodge and a ’57 Morris Minor.


Nicholas Jackson, Director, Worship Ministries


Nicholas Jackson, Director

Worship Ministries

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Drawing and Graphic Design: Bemidji State University

Since July, 2012, Nicholas has been our lead Worshipper, drawing together a diverse team of musicians, instrumentalists, and audio/technical skilled people to create intentional opportunities and spaces for worship. A gifted storyteller at heart, Nicholas helps us live into this moment in God's larger Story, drawing our eyes upwards to pour out praise, offer our gratitude, and respond to the truths we've been given. He and his wife, Christina, the love of his life, have three children, Avery, Mary, and Cosette, who are Nicholas's favorite playmates. Nicholas is also a skilled illustrator, creating our memories of childhood and fantasy on paper for the next generation to dream about. A cup of Irish Breakfast tea, good conversation, and long walks are just some of the things that make him smile. (And a good banana cream pie!)


Sarah Holt, Director, Student Ministries


Sarah Holt, Director

Student Ministries

Associate of Arts, Biblical Studies: Oak Hills Christian College
Bachelor of Arts, Christian Ministries (in progress): Crown College

A mom at heart, Sarah is in her element working with our students – 6th -12th grade. Coming out of a background of lay ministry and church planting, Sarah has been with The Covenant since 2009, joining the NextGen Ministries staff in 2011.Though much of what she does is administrative – communications, event planning, facilitating and partnering with parents and lay leaders of the student ministry- her joy is making opportunities happen for ministry, for relationship, and for God to move. Sarah’s passion is helping students find their identity in Christ, and understand how deeply they are loved. She loves spending time with students and hearing their heart. Happily married to her husband Joe since 1991, they have two children in college, Catherine and Marshall. When not hanging out with teens or working in the office, Sarah loves to read classics, watch science fiction, and spend time with family and friends. She loves black tea, Janna’s cheesecake, Disney movies, and still has her own coloring books and a box of 96 crayons she doesn’t share.



Darla Haseltine, Director

Kids Ministries


Amy Strom, Director, Congregational Care


Amy Strom, Director

Congregational Care

Bachelor of Arts, English: Bemidji State University
Master of Divinity: Bethel Theological Seminary

Amy is, in a very true sense, a daughter of this church, coming to faith through its ministries when she was 17. Though her original goal was to teach English, God had other plans for Amy and drew her into ministry while living in the Twin Cities. She was in vocational ministry there for a span of 9 years, equipping small groups, membership assimilation and volunteer coordination before returning to Bemidji to finish her Master’s in 2013. Coming home to The Covenant, we have been blessed by her ministry as she did her pastoral residence here in 2013, concentrating mostly in the area of congregational care. In 2014, she joined the Adult Ministries staff as the director of the ministry she has come to support so beautifully in our church family, and we are deeply grateful. Whether she's visiting the sick or sharing communion with the infirmed, Amy practices a ministry of presence that helps people see that here is a church family they can belong to, who misses them when they are gone, and seeks to help in times of trouble. Amy’s deep desire is to train others to do the same. Amy is a licensed minister in Covenant denomination and is currently seeking Ordination to Word and Sacrament. In her free time, Amy is a woman with many interests and joys, especially enjoy connecting with God in nature, reading and discussing books/movies, kayaking, playing board games and lawn games, making people laugh, fishing, kayaking, hanging out and goofing around with friends, cooking, and kayaking - she loves to kayak!


Joel Mellor, Worship Leader, Students


Joel Mellor

Student Ministries, Worship & Creative Leader

Bachelor of Arts, Youth & Family Studies: University of Northwestern, St. Paul

Youth. Music. Jesus. Joel is the guy for this position. Joining The Covenant's NextGen Ministries staff in 2014, he had already been in ministry for 3 years previous, leading worship, teaching students, and finding his niche in the Kingdom. We’re pretty sure he has found it here with us!  Freshly married to his beautiful bride, Shannon, just six months before joining us, Joel has the newlywed glow when he talks about her that we all find so endearing. Other than Shannon, his interests lie in sports of all kinds and building his own computer. His addictions include coffee and Netflix.


Sarah Bull, Worship Leader, Kids


Sarah Bull

Kids Ministries, Worship Leader

Bachelor of Arts, Theatre Performance: Bemidji State University
Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education: Bemidji State University

Joining our NextGen Ministries staff in 2014, Sarah Bull is an incredibly busy, multi-talented woman with the kindest of hearts and an amazing smile that could stop traffic. She's been actively involved in The Covenant's ministry with kids since 2011, sharing her many talents with the children who love her, so taking an official staff position with us was a natural choice, and we are so happy to have her. Currently working at Northern Elementary School as a special education paraprofessional, Sarah is also actively involved as a photographer and does her best to continue her passion with performance through theatre, dance, and music. When not hard at work elsewhere, she loves traveling, cooking and spending time in nature.


Terri Bentler, Assistant, Office


Terri Bentler


Secretarial Certification: Northwest Technical College

Terri is the bright welcoming face of our main office. A secretary for over 25 years, she has been with us at The Covenant since 2008, answering the phones, typing the bulletin, and helping Lori with church Operations and keeping all the communications and planning running smoothly. Happily married since 1982, she and her husband Dan have two grown children, Andrew and Heather, and one grandson, Jaxon, the light of Terri’s life. She loves reading, long walks, family time and spending time at church cooking, and assisting with communion, as well as providing intercessory prayer. Terri’s smile is contagious, and her laughter often fills the office. When needed, chocolate is the way to her heart. But Terri is always willing to share.

Tony Hall, Facilities Assistant

Tony Hall

Facilities Assistant

Tony Hall has been at The Covenant his whole life, but only recently in 2014, joined the Operations staff to assist in the care and setup of the facilities. A man of few words, it is nonetheless easy to see his care for this church he has called home so long. Along with his caring wife, Jeannie, he has 5 children who keep him moving. When asked what he loves, hunting, hunting, and hunting again was the answer. Bow hunting has become a passion and Tony only wishes he had more time to walk in the woods.