Pastor Cynthia Schnaath began ministry with us in October 2019 as the Synod conducts a search for a permanent pastor. (Pastor Dave Whetter left Salem at the end of August 2019 after 10 years to serve as bishop’s associate in the Central States Synod.) Pastor Cynthia has served Kansas and Missouri congregations in rural, urban, and suburban settings for more than 30 years, both as a permanent and an interim pastor. She also has served on the Central States Synod staff as Bishop's Assistant for Events and Resources. She graduated from Bethany College with a degree in Christian education and youth ministry. Before her ordination, she served as a youth worker and parish educator for three years at St. Mark's (now St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church) in Kansas City. She then went on to seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her passions include her dog, Gracie, exercising daily, and Kansas City’s National Public Radio station, KCUR (she is a big fan of the Moth!).
Director of Worship and Music
Heather Lewis has been the Director of Music and Worship at Salem since 2010, and was the song leader and pianist at a Saturday evening worship service 2004-2009. Heather has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State in choral music education and a master’s degree from University of Maryland in piano performance, and teaches piano lessons in her home. She lives in Olathe with her husband Brad and three children, Casey, Brandon, and Faith. Heather directs the adult choir and children's choir, youth special music and drama, and coordinates and leads music in all services. She also directs children's musicals and Christmas programs every year. Salem’s music is enthusiastically offered in worship by all ages, and welcomes all levels of experience.
Mikki is excited to be here at Salem, and is looking forward to getting to know the people of Salem Lutheran Church! She graduated from the University of Kansas and spent her professional career in Kansas City ad agencies. Her most recent stint has been as a stay-at-home mom. Mikki lives in Lenexa in a lively household with her husband, three kids, her mother, and three dogs. She enjoys baking, reading, traveling, and, every now and then, a little piece and quiet.
Shari Van Baale
Shari started as Communications Coordinator at Salem in early 2017. Her job duties include the weekly bulletin and e-newsletter, creating slides for worship, maintaining the Salem website, and the annual directory, as well as other publications throughout the year. She has also worked at a Methodist church since 2010 doing a similar position. She has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Iowa. Originally from the Chicago area, she has lived in the Kansas City area since 2007. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, walking, and enjoying nature with her family. She lives in Olathe with her husband and two children.
Emily Nelson Dixon
Director of Teen Ministries and Outreach
Emily Nelson Dixon has worked in youth ministry for 20 years and has served youth groups of all shapes and sizes. She feels passionately about helping young people and families experience profound encounters with God. She's a coach and teacher with Youth Ministry Institute because she loves sharing her experiences to help other youth ministers find great success in their jobs. She is married and has three kids: two hilarious, sassy girls who make her laugh daily, and a sweet new baby boy who is the center of all of their worlds!
Child Care Coordinator
Toni grew up in Salina, Kansas, and raised her five children there. She had a licensed home daycare for almost 18 years, then returned to college and graduated with a degree in psychological counseling and rehabilitative services and a degree in sociology from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina. After working in Wichita as a counselor, she struggled with a desire to start working with children again and took the plunge back into that world, working at a child care center in the 2- to 3-year-old classroom. The desire to be close to her family brought her to Olathe, and minutes from her three daughters and four grandchildren. She has been teaching at a child care center in Lenexa for a year, where she is the lead young 2’s teacher. Thank goodness she is blessed with good health and a strong body, because 2-year-olds never stop!