Meet the Staff
Pastor Wes Aardahl was born in Miles City, Montana and raised in Glendive. He is proud to be one of sixteen ordained sons and daughters of Zion Lutheran Church. Wes received a B.S. in music at Dickinson State College and an M. Div. from Luther Seminary. He served as associate pastor at Living Christ Lutheran Church in Hanover Park, Illinois before attending Claremont Graduate School, from which he received an M.A. in Religion. Following graduate school, Pastor Wes served the Nathanael-Volmer Lutheran Parish of Dagmar, Montana. He was then called to be co-pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Bismarck, North Dakota, and served as senior pastor there for ten years. In May of 2016, Wes was called to serve as pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church. He is married to Rebecca, who serves as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Cheyenne. They have two sons. Kristian just graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota with a degree in biology. He will spend 2017-18 doing volunteer work in Senegal, through the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. Nils is a junior at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he is majoring in classical music performance. His instrument is the double bass. Pastor Wes is an avid drummer and cyclist whose overriding interest is in the study and teaching of theology. He is especially devoted to the theme of creation, in the realms of both nature and the arts. As a relative newcomer, Pastor Wes is especially enthused about Ascension’s hospitality, worship life, and education.
Jane Leland Iverson. A native of Minnesota, Jane completed her undergraduate studies at St. Olaf College, earned her M.M. from Minnesota State University at Mankato, and her D.A. from the University of Northern Colorado. She was the Coordinator of Music at Laramie County Community College for nine years. During that time, she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the Arts and Humanitites Division three times. In 2004, she received a Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award. In 2008, she was the recipient of the St. Olaf College Alumni Achievement Award. Jane has served Ascension Lutheran Church as Choir Director and Organist since 1978.
Cheryl was born in South Dakota and moved with her family throughout the mid-West during her school years. They settled in California where she met and married Lou Collins. He pastored a number churches in California, Nebraska and here in Cheyenne before he retired, then passed away. She worked in Student Services at Laramie County Community College for twenty years earning her A.A. in Sociology and becoming certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator before retiring in 2014. She has two children and five grandchildren. Her joy in serving Ascension Lutheran Church as the Morning Secretary comes from her deep faith in Jesus Christ.
Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 23, 1946, Gaela was introduced to music early by her father’s guitar playing and singing and regular church attendance at the First Methodist Church downtown Cheyenne.
She began piano lessons at the Heinlein School of Music at age 8, began playing hymns for Sunday school soon afterward and later accompanying the junior choir at the church and teaching music theory to students at the Heinlein school after school. Then she continued playing and singing in the choirs at McCormick Junior High and Central High through graduation in 1964.
From there she became a music major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY where she also attended services at Trinity Lutheran and joined the choir. After meeting Al Young there and joining the college youth group, she continued school at UW through her sophomore year, later accepting Al’s proposal to marry and continue her studies at Kansas State University. While at that university she directed junior choir at the Lutheran church nearby and taught piano lessons on the side. She graduated from KSU in 1968, and she and Al subsequently moved to the Florida gulf coast for Al’s first duty station at Eglin AFB, FL.
For the next 40 years she directed choirs and played the organ in Florida, Colorado Springs, Texas, and Ft. Washington, MD outside DC. Also, while living in DC, she sang with the Bolling AFB officer’s wives club sextet which occasionally joined the USAF Singing Sergeants at area performances, auditioned and sang with the Southern Maryland Choral Society, and assisted as rehearsal accompanist for their performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
Later, in 2002, she and Al moved to Cheyenne from Naperville, IL and became involved with the music life here at Ascension.