Meet Our Staff
Lead Pastor
David Christensen

Pastor David Christensen currently lives north of Marshall on the farm where his great-grandparents homesteaded. His wife, Julie, and their daughters; Johanna, Signe, Kaia and Siri have a passion for ministry, music, and good food. They have a large garden that they tend alongside their organic farm and dairy operation. Life is good and delicious, because God is faithful! David attended St. Olaf College where he majored in English, and Luther Seminary where he received his M.Div. in 1998. His first call was to Faith Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, MN as co-lead pastor. He served there until 2008 when he moved to Marshall, MN as a campus pastor at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). In 2010 a church plant started in Marshall. Living Word Lutheran Church would call David to full-time ministry that year. David continues to do ministry and outreach on the campus of SMSU. His role at Living Word includes preacher, teacher, and counselor. God has richly blessed and grown the ministry of Living Word over the years. As David often says, “When the Holy Spirit moves, all you can do is buckle-up and go for the ride!” And what an incredible journey it has been for David and his family! They have witnessed God’s power and love as Jesus is proclaimed and praised. To God be the glory!!

Associate Pastor
Greg Pavek

Greg Pavek was hired at Living Word in August of 2015 as Living Word’s Youth Minister. He is now in the Associate Pastor role and loves shepherding families and people of all ages and faith stages.  He is accompanied in ministry by his wife Erika, who is an elementary teacher. Together, they have two sons – Sawyer and Lincoln.  Both Greg and Erika understand that the challenges of living out your faith are always evolving and acknowledging them with authenticity is important. Their heart is to show people that church is not a perfect place for perfect people but a place where broken people come to worship a perfect God.  Their goal is to help guide people into lasting relationships with Jesus Christ where they can live out their faith in all aspects of life. Greg has a passion for showing Christ to all ages of people in not only word and speech but in deed and truth.


Office Manager
Katlyn Benson

In September of 2020, Katlyn Benson became the Office Manager.  She takes care of the administrative details so that the ministry staff can focus on spiritually supporting the congregation.  She is originally a Sandbulte from Hills, MN.  She moved to Marshall in 2012 to attend SMSU, where she accepted Christ, was baptized by Pastor Dave, spent her summers working as a camp counselor at Inspiration Hills, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Biology, and met a pretty cool guy named Jacob. After graduating college in 2016, she worked primarily for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at both Camden and Lake Shetek State Parks.  In February 2018, Katlyn was married to Jacob by Pastor Dave here at Living Word.  Jacob is originally from Fairplay, Colorado, and is an Admission Counselor at SMSU.  They have been blessed with two children: daughter Avaya (October 2019) and son Ezra (May 2022).  They love to hike, travel, and explore as a family.  In fact, they have been to 59 of Minnesota’s 75 state parks together!  Even though the Marshall area is not particularly great for hiking, we have remained because of the extraordinary community we have found here.  God is good!

Director of Youth Ministry
Cooper Martens

My hometown is New Ulm, MN and I graduated from Nicollet High School, which is also the home of the world-famous Schmidt’s Meat Market! I attended SMSU where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in the spring of 2022. This led to a personal training position at the YMCA where I loved serving the community through training clients from 9-84 years of age! While attending SMSU in late 2019, I met my wife Caedyn who helped with Sunday School at Living Word. Through the faithfulness of the Word preached at Living Word and the prayers of an incredibly faithful woman who became my bride, the Lord radically changed my life in the summer of 2020. I was born again and given a new heart along with a new mind that now desires to serve Him in every area of my life. Shortly after, Caedyn and I got engaged at Living Word. In early July of 2021, Pastor Greg Pavek baptized me in a freezing cold Alaskan mountain lake on our men’s mission trip. Then on July 31st, Greg married Caedyn and I in the same spot we got engaged.

My wife Caedyn, who studied biology at SMSU, will be working at TrueLight Christian School this upcoming fall as a middle school science and math teacher. In these last couple of years, Caedyn and I have loved serving as youth group leaders in the high school youth ministry by helping every Wednesday night during the school year and by attending retreats, mission trips, and conferences with the students.

It is amazing walking in this life, experiencing all the doors that the Lord continues to open and close. Our passion in this season of life is to come alongside parents to help equip these students for a lifetime of faithfulness. With the way the Lord has tremendously prepared and equipped me specifically with a passion and ability to teach the truth of God’s Word, we couldn’t be more excited to step into this interim position and continue to pour out our gifts for the church and more specifically the youth in which we have grown such deep relationships with.


Director of Children’s Ministry Jaci Peterson

I was born and raised in Tyler, MN, and attended SMSU in Marshall, MN, where I majored in Elementary Education. After graduation I moved to Texas, married the love of my life (Kevin), raised 3 children, and taught at a private Christian school for 10 years. In 2005 we felt God’s calling to come back home to be closer to our family. What a blessing that has been!  In 2011 I was hired on staff at Living Word. I am the Director of Children’s Ministry where I coordinate, organize, and minister to the volunteers that serve in that area of the church, help lead the weekly worship time on Sunday mornings, and teach our 3-year-old Sunday School class each week. I’m so grateful the Lord allows me to use my passion for children’s ministry here at Living Word. It’s fun to be a part of the Lord’s plan and to witness firsthand as our children discover God’s unbreaking, always and forever love.  Our daughter Allie and her husband Brock have a beautiful son named Oliver.   I also have twin sons – Colton, who has a wife named SaLes, and Hunter.  They bring us much joy, laughter and challenges that remind us to depend upon Him always! His gracious refining work continues in my life daily, as He encourages me in everything to give thanks (I Thess. 5:18). When I’m not at Living Word, you’ll find me enjoying a ball game or two, catching a movie, or laughing with friends. Forever a small-town girl at heart, I love diet coke, BBQ, sporting events, and going camping with my family.

Financial Secretary
Kathy Dahl

Kathy Dahl was born and raised in Cottonwood, MN.  Kathy is a graduate of Cottonwood High School and attended Southwest State University. Kathy worked for the Lyon County Law Enforcement Center as a jailer/dispatcher, stayed home and was a licensed daycare provider, worked in personal lines at North Star Mutual Insurance Company, then worked for the City of Cottonwood for 23 years.  Kathy is now employed by her son Derek at the Insurance Service Agency as a Customer Service Representative.  In May of 1977, Kathy married Joel Dahl.  They have three sons:  Joey (Stephanie), Derek, and Christopher (Catie).  Kathy and Joel have been blessed with ten grandchildren: Sophie, Brylee, Tyler, Franki, Brielle, Briggs, Evelyn, Emelia, Trace, and Eleanor.   I am so blessed to be able to do the accounting and financials for Living Word Lutheran Church.  When I am not working, I enjoy baking, reading and playing with my grandchildren.

Maintenance Technician
Jeff Davenport

Bio to come!