Meet the Staff
Pastor Rebecca Aardahl
Pastor Rebecca Aardahl joined the staff of Ascension Lutheran in August 2019. The Aardahls arrived in Cheyenne in summer 2016, at which time Pastor Rebecca served the congregation of Christ Lutheran while her husband, Pastor Wes Aardahl, served the congregation of Ascension Lutheran. Two challenges came before the couple and the congregations in 2019: Pastor Wes received a cancer diagnosis in 2017, which prompted him to retire earlier than anticipated; the congregation that Pastor Rebecca served at Christ Lutheran in Cheyenne concluded its ministry with a service of Holy Closure in May 2019. After a process of discernment for the three parties (the Aardahls, the Office of the Bishop and the congregation) Ascension Lutheran extended a one-year renewable term-call to Pastor Rebecca which began in August. In the summer of 2020, the congregation and Pastor Rebecca will discern the Holy Spirit’s leading regarding this term call.
Her area of emphasis at Ascension Lutheran is helping to make room for all the voices and ages in and near the congregation. The Confirmation ministry which she leads with Pastor Alison George, who serves St. Paul’s Lutheran in Cheyenne, is especially stimulating Pastor Rebecca’s desire to help youth and young families “find home” at Ascension so as to share the good news of Jesus’ love.
The Aardahls lived in Bismarck, North Dakota before moving to Cheyenne. For six years there, Pastor Rebecca was Chaplain of a skilled care and assisted living facility; for five years prior, she was Pastor of the congregation at Heart River Lutheran in Mandan, North Dakota, which is on the grounds of the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (NDYCC) and led ministry with the youth and staff at NDYCC, which is a maximum security facility.
During their years in northeast Montana while their sons were young, Pastor Rebecca provided interim ministry and regular pulpit supply to Lutheran congregations in the area while Pastor Wes served the Lutheran Parish of Dagmar, MT. Before moving to Montana in 1996, Pastor Rebecca was Associate Pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, CA for seven years and a half years; for two and a half years prior, she was Associate Pastor at First Lutheran in Pomona, CA. The Aardahl’s sons, Kristian and Nils, were born in 1994 and 1996, respectively.
Pastor Rebecca is a graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and spent her year of internship at Faith Lutheran in Joliet, IL. Prior to seminary, she was a writer and editor at AAL in Appleton, WI. She is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Her hometown is Audubon in northwestern Minnesota.
Mandy Roth, who started as Ascension’s Church Office Secretary in March 2019, recently returned to Cheyenne with her husband, Heath, to be near family. She spent the last 15 years in Sheridan where she worked in the medical and dental fields. She also spent 5 years working with developmentally disabled adults at Easter Seals as well as a position as a Chiropractic Assistant. She has recently become a grandmother to Winter Rose, daughter of her oldest son Dalton. Her other son, Everett, lives at home and will be attending the Diesel Tech program at LCCC. In her spare time she enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and searching for waterfalls, she is also writing a mystery novel for Pendant Publishing.
Charlie Stevens is a guitarist and music instructor based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He leads Ascension’s 5 p.m. Service of Holy Communion worship service on Saturdays. Charlie graduated from the University of Northern Colorado, in May of 2019, earning a music performance degree, with a dual emphasis in classical, and bluegrass guitar.
Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Charlie has been playing live performances for almost a decade and has played with many bands, and musicians, at notable venues in both Connecticut, and Northern Colorado.
Charlie has been teaching private music lessons for 5 years and enjoys watching the successes of his students as they discover their love for music.
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.
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.