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Church Staff

Pastor Terry Courter
Interim Pastor | pastorterry@poplargo.org

Pastor Terry is originally from Evansville, IN. He has been married to his wife, Ann, for 41 years and they have two married daughters. Pastor Terry is a second career pastor. He spent 30 years in manufacturing as an engineer and in middle management. During that time, he was also commissioned as a lay preacher in the Indiana Kentucky Synod. As a lay preacher, he wrestled with the call to ordained ministry and in 2010 he entered seminary at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. He did his internship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Longwood, FL. After graduating in 2014, Pastor Terry’s first call was to Bethlehem Lutheran Church near Okolona (west of Toledo, OH). In 2018, he was called to serve Living Lord Lutheran Church in Lakewood Ranch, FL where he recently retired. Pastor Terry’s hobbies include playing golf and reading.

Pastor Ann Schmidt
Visitation Pastor | pastorann@poplargo.org

Pastor Ann serves as a part time visitation pastor. She works primarily on Wednesdays and is an active part of the congregation. She brings a wealth of experience from years serving as both a parish pastor and a hospital chaplain.

Dr. Shawn Thomas
Director of Music & Organist | shawn@poplargo.org

Shawn oversees a music ministry comprised of the parish adult, children’s, and handbell choirs, and is the Artistic Director for the Art For Faith’s Sake concert series. He currently serves as Dean of the Clearwater Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Shawn holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas. Graduate and undergraduate work was completed at The University of Florida (Gainesville) and The University of West Florida (Pensacola), respectively. His past teachers include Michael Bauer, Laura Ellis, James Higdon, Lynne Lauderdale, and Kevin Vogt. Shawn has performed in masterclasses with renowned French organists Michel Bouvard, Vincent Dubois, Daniel Roth, and Olivier Latry, and American organists Marie Rubis Bauer, Marilyn Keiser, and Tom Trenney. Shawn is married to Michelle, the Cathedral Administrator & Associate for Christian Formation at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter (Episcopal) in St. Petersburg, FL.

Kristen
Coordinator of Discipleship and Congregational Care | Kristen@poplargo.org

Kristen accepted her role and joined the beloved staff at PoP in the fall of 2020. She has served in the ELCA for over a decade. She grew up in Las Vegas, NV, and attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Northern Arizona University. She has a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Kentucky. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Social Work from the University of Kentucky. 

Kristen hears clearly the call in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Diana Schultz
Preschool Director | Diana@poplargo.org

Diana began her classroom work with 2-year olds and moved from there to VPK. For a time, she was both VPK instructor and Assistant Director and then served as a fulltime Assistant Director with additional duties such as ensuring teacher readiness, handling Early Learning Coalition documentation, and leading her school through an accreditation process. What thrills her most, however, is her time with children and “feeding off their energy,” as she is in and out of classrooms each day. For Diana encouraging the growth of our children in a creative environment and focusing along the way on literacy are key to the preschool experience. She envisions this learning experience taking place on a foundation of faith.  

Diana and her husband have 4 children of their own, so she indeed sees life through the eyes of a mom and a teacher. 

Christine Gilpen
Ruth’s Promise Director | ruthspromiseadp@gmail.com

Christine Gilpen was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota. She possesses a bachelor’s degree in  Therapeutic Recreation and Psychology and a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA). She was serving as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) for thirteen years, supervising recreation therapy services in psychiatric care and adult day center services. Christine aims to ensure that adults find happiness and fulfillment through living a holistic lifestyle.

Melinda Bryan

Gidget DiRienz
Parish Secretary/Receptionist | gidget@poplargo.org

Gidget accepted her position at PoP in the summer of 2023. Her background includes the previous 12 years as a Parish Administrator at another church. The rest of her career was in the legal field as a paralegal in both law firms and corporations. Gidget is originally from Toledo, Ohio, moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2008, and is the adopted mom of her two now adult grandsons. She feels being called to Pop was a gift from God.

 

Sharon Bower
Parish Bookkeeper | bookkeeper@poplargo.org

Prior to joining the PoP team in April 2024, Sharon spent the last 20 years working for a privately held commercial real estate development and management company.  While there she held a variety of roles including bookkeeper, property manager and office manager allowing her to anticipate the needs of staff, tenants, vendors, as well as the management team.  Sharon has also worked for a variety of other companies to include; residential property management, Space and Strategic Operations accounting, and Waste-to Energy facility.  She earned her Associates of Arts degree in General Business from St. Petersburg Junior College, attended the University of South Florida studying Business, is a Certified Apartment Manager and has completed the training program to become a Community Association Manager.