Our Redeemer's Staff

Nurturing our congregation.
Connecting with our community.

Our community is blessed with passionate, dedicated leaders who love what they do and are excited to learn about what you love too. Drawing from their very different backgrounds, talents and experiences, our staff members support Our Redeemer’s ongoing learning and growth. They work to build a strong community that lives its vision and is actively shaped by each person in it.

Read on for a brief introduction to the church staff. You can get in touch with any member of our staff to talk, ask questions and learn more about Our Redeemer’s.

Meet our staff

Katherine Hawks, Pastor
After growing up Congregationalist/Methodist/Catholic (ask and I’ll tell you the story), Lutheranism has given me a way to keep what I love about those traditions while keeping God’s grace at the core.

I attended seminary in inner-city Chicago, interned in Singapore, and served two congregations before coming to Our Redeemer’s in 2001. I am so grateful to give and receive from this community that is such a living, caring work of the Spirit.

My free time allows me to play with grandkids, dance, read and travel. My 2008 sabbatical included visiting communities of reconciliation in Rwanda, France, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The highlights of this year’s sabbatical were hiking in the Slovenian Alps and taking the train all the way across Canada.

I would love to meet you and hear your stories. You can get in touch with me any time, or hear more of me on our podcasts and blog.

Gretchen Mertes, Associate Pastor and Informal Worship and Music Director

Gretchen Mertes has been a pastor and professional musician in the ELCA since 2002. She came to Our Redeemer’s in 2015 after spending time as a mission developer at Luther’s Table in Renton, Washington.

As a pastor, Gretchen’s passion is connecting people through word, song, and food.  She loves theological conversation and hosting “Theology on Tap” as often as she can. When she can find the time, she attends retreats, service learning trips, camps, and enjoys gathering around a fire. Holden Village is one of her favorite places. Gretchen also has a strong heart for faith formation, and enjoys working with kids of all ages, instilling in them a love for God, for church, and for neighbor.


As a songwriter, she finds it deeply fulfilling and fun to take the beautiful words of the Lutheran hymnody and blend it with new melody and instrumentation. She also writes her own music. Gretchen loves spending time outdoors with her husband Ryan and their kids– Addi and Weller– and getting down to the water as much as possible.

She is always down to get a cup of coffee, and hear what makes you who you are.  Feel free to drop her an email!

Karen Lee, Traditional Music and Worship Director

Karen has served as Our Redeemer’s Traditional Worship and Music Director since 2007.  She directs the Adult Choir and Youth Choir, and co-directs the Jr. Choir with Marie Nordquist-Lessard.  She chairs the Worship Team and provides musical leadership for Kids’ Church and the traditional worship service.
In addition to her work at Our Redeemer’s, Karen has taught Chorus classes at Issaquah Middle School since 1988.  She earned her B.A. in Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University and her M.A., with an emphasis in Choral Conducting, from the University of Washington.
Karen is the proud mother of Erica, a college student at PLU, who is also planning a future in music.  In her spare time, Karen loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, photography, and scrapbooking.

Don Boelter, Parish Administrator

Don has been the Parish Administrator at Our Redeemer’s since January, 2015. He brings ten years experience of administrator and office management work at both Phinney Ridge Lutheran (where he and his wife, Jenn, are members), and at University Congregational-UCC, where he served as Lay Ministries Coordinator.

He sees administration of a church as his calling and vocation, and brings interest in how the operations and support functions can facilitate and strengthen ministry.  He has a BA from the University of Washington and JD from the Seattle University School of Law. He also completed work for a Professional Certificate in Lay Ministry from Whitworth University.

Nancy OldenKamp, Office Assistant

Nancy joined the Our Redeemer’s staff in the spring of 2015, although she and her husband Paul have been active members since the late 1980s.  They were married at Our Redeemer’s by Pastor Maynard Atik January 4, 1997.  Before being employed as the Office Assistant at Our Redeemer’s, Nancy was a legal secretary working in downtown Seattle for almost 40 years, including 10 years working in a small law firm with Paul Wallstrom.

Nancy attended West Side Presbyterian Church as a child growing up in West Seattle (a real Seattle native).  Since becoming members at Our Redeemer’s, she and Paul taught Sunday School when their four children were growing up in the 1990s, and have been active in Social Justice issues including hunger and homelessness (Thanksgiving dinners, Ballard Sunday Dinners), Road2Housing, LGBT advocacy, Faith Action Network and other social causes. They now enjoy watching their 4 grandsons grow!

She loves working with the staff and members of Our Redeemer’s, and feels blessed to be part of an inclusive, devoted, caring, spiritual community that accepts challenges, takes risks and grows.

Jonath Ochs, Communications Specialist

Jonath Ochs (pronounced JAH-NETH OX) has joined the staff of Our Redeemer’s to utilize his God-given talents in making communication around the church the best it can be. He currently works part time putting together bulletins, the monthly Visitor, signage, weekly e-mails, and updating the website.

He has a passion for the arts and photography and currently holds a B.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. He studied creative self portraiture and a variety of visual and graphic arts. Seattle has been his home since 2011and he enjoys spending his time picking out songs on his banjolele and finding inspiration for his next self portrait.

If you see him around the church, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and ask for a hug! Questions about Communications or Publications? Email him at communications@ourredeemers.net.

Cara Kiggins, Social Justice Coordinator

A love of people and community has lead Cara to spend the last 10+ years offering support, compassion, and advocacy towards furthering social justice in the U.S. and internationally. Cara served as Executive Director of Community Outreach & Advocacy for Refugees in Phoenix, Arizona, and is on the Board of Directors of Refugees Thrive International. She managed a Rape Crisis Center program for nearly 5 years in San Diego, CA. Cara worked with St. Andrew’s Refugees Services Refugee Legal Aid Project and studied in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Fellow, obtaining a Graduate Certificate in Migration and Refugee Studies from the American University in Cairo during this time. Cara received her B.A. in Anthropology from Arizona State University and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo. Prior to moving to Seattle, Cara ran her own small business, serving birthing families as a Birth Doula and Yoga Instructor in San Diego, CA.

Cara moved to Seattle in October 2016 with her husband, Justin, and their two young children. Cara fills her cup through yoga, hiking, camping, chasing sunshine, and spending time with her family. She and her husband were first drawn to Our Redeemers as the church is so publicly passionate about Social Justice issues and they decided to stick around and become members after witnessing the loving heart and authentic inclusivity of the community.

Hannah Wetter, Nursery Caregiver

Hannah has been part of the Our Redeemer’s family since joining with her mother in 2002. She has spent 2+ years on staff as the Early Childhood/Nursery Caregiver. Working with children has always been a passion for Hannah, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to help them begin their faith journey here at Our Redeemer’s. Born and raised in Ballard, Hannah is currently pursuing her B.A. in Urban Design at the University of Washington. Her favorite things (outside of church) include reading, gardening, and going on adventures with her boyfriend, Mario. Please stop by the nursery and say hello, whether or not you have children of your own!