Senior Pastor

Ben Sandin

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The first thing I would want anyone to know about me is my faith in Jesus Christ and deep commitment to serve God’s people in the world. I have had the pleasure of serving as senior pastor at House of Prayer since March of 2014 and so far the journey has been filled with adventure! Our goal for this time in the life of House of Prayer is to re-connect to our community. This is accomplished by seeking relationships and connections with people and finding innovative ways to share God’s love with God’s people. This is challenging and important work that God has us to and I continue to find great joy in serving God’s people and living out our faith together in this place.


On a more personal note, I was raised in Ashland, WI on the shores of Lake Superior. I attended Gustavus Adolphus College and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. I previously served congregations in Michigan and South Dakota. My ministry has been focused on congregational renewal, youth ministry, and social justice.  I am married to Kelly Sandin who is my partner in life and ministry. She is currently a student at Luther Seminary completing her course and fieldwork to become a pastor. We live in Bloomington and are blessed to have our adult daughter Jasmine living nearby.


Interim Minister of Faith Formation & Visitation

Kelly Sandin

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It is a privilege and joy to be serving at House of Prayer! As a person who loves people, I have a passion for hearing the stories of others through one-on-one listening and learning. It is sacred space and does not leave us the same. I look forward to deepening current relationships and getting to know many others I have yet to meet.

As a native Detroiter, I am a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Oakland University in Rochester, MI with degrees in teaching. I taught in the suburbs of Detroit as my first career, primarily fourth and sixth grade. During my last four years of teaching, I was a part-time student at Ecumenical Theological Seminary before moving to Minnesota in the year of 2014. At that time, my husband, Ben, was called as pastor to House of Prayer, while I was given the opportunity to finish my degree full-time at Luther Seminary. I interned the year of 2016-2017 at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and graduated in August of 2017 with a Master of Divinity for ordained ministry. We are blessed to have our daughter, Jasmine, who graduated from college in 2015, living nearby in Minneapolis.

I enjoy watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and have a love for dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, and frozen yogurt. 

Director of Youth Ministry & Community Development

Ben Whalen

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I grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College studying religion and music. I was very involved in several campus ministry groups and worked at Pine Lake Camp in the summers.

The past two years I’ve been working part-time with the children and families at Linden Hills United Church of Christ. It’s been wonderful working in a church setting and I’m excited to jump even more fully into that with this new position at House of Prayer.

A little bit more about me as a person: I am a musician – professionally as a trombonist and just for fun as a singer and guitarist. I love the outdoors, especially biking, camping, hiking, and skiing. I worked as a bicycle mechanic on the side for a while and still love working on bikes when I have the time. I love board games, especially the strategy ones that have too many rules and take hours to finish.

I am excited to be at House of Prayer working with families and the community. I love conversation and getting to know people so I encourage any and all of you to stop in my office to chat or contact me at or 612-500-9523!

Director of Operations & Communications

Cara Wright

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I'm a planner, an organizer, a fixer... but as often happens, just when you think you have a plan - God messes with those plans!  I have to say that I am blessed that God does!  I am very excited to take on this new role at House of Prayer as the Director of Operations and Communications and look foward to what God has in store for me and this energetic, welcoming, faith-filled community!

I grew up at HOP (baptized, preschooled, Sunday Schooled, Confirmed) and have held leadership roles in the congregation for many years. Knowing many people and how things work around here is a huge help - but I find that every day brings new challenges, mysteries, and relationships.  I love it!  It's my job to use the gifts and resources of HOP and its members to share God's love with each other, within our congregation, and with our community.  Help me get the word out!

My husband, Scott and I met at Gustavus Adolphus College where we both majored in Business Management.  We were married at HOP in the late 80’s (big hair and all!).  We have two awesome daughters, Chloe and Caity -- a Tommie and a soon to be Gustie!  I worked in Finance and Human Resources at Northwest/Delta Airlines and General Mills managing Retirement Benefit Plans before coming to HOP.  In my spare time, I enjoy volunteering (church/school/American Swedish Institute/Gustavus), travel, essential oils, and being a Segway tour guide!

Director of Music

Phil Mennicke

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Church music has been a presence in my life since birth. My dad was choir director at Zion Lutheran Church in Brainerd, so I had no choice from an early age!

I did not, however, have designs on doing much with music besides a “hobby”. I sang in the Nordic Choir at Luther College because it was fun (same reason I later sang in the National Lutheran Choir), and I graduated with a degree in History. After several post-college years of seeing just how marketable THAT degree is, I felt a tug to pursue a music teaching degree, eventually earning that from Concordia University, St. Paul.

I held a couple of different high school choral positions, both of which ending because of being low person on totem pole when budget cuts hit. So I found myself needing to do SOMETHING in the Fall of 2007, and was fortunate enough to stumble onto the Director of Music position at House of Prayer. Well, nine years later I am still stumbling with that SOMETHING and have never looked back!

I live in Minneapolis with wife, Mindy (a superior musician to me), and two boys, Jack and Jamie. They are wonderful and active kids, only requiring an exorcism on roughly a quarterly basis.

House of Prayer has been an amazing blessing to me and my family, and I am thankful to be in a place that truly values and is not afraid to unleash the magical powers of music in a worship setting!

Phone: (612) 500-9533

ReFuel Worship Leader

Josh Countryman

My name is Josh Countryman, and I am excited to be House of Prayer's ReFuel worship leader. I’ve been a Richfield resident since 2001, and in that time my family has grown from a house of two into a full house of five plus one dog. I’ve been a music teacher for 15 years, and I’m currently in my 12th year as Choir Director at Brooklyn Center Secondary School. In addition to teaching I am also a performing musician, singing in a local band and in the choral ensemble Kantorei. For the last several years I’ve been part of the music ministry every Sunday over at Richfield United Methodist Church but have been looking for the opportunity to take a more active role in worship. Music is how I pray and connect to God, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to make music with the members of House of Prayer. God Bless.

Financial Administrator

Jo Shoberg

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I grew up in a commune and am the love child of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Phone: (612) 500-9528

Maintenance Manager

Ramo Zejnilovic

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Beef and Chocolate.

Phone: (612) 500-9522

Director of Preschool

Heather Harrison

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I am an outgoing orthodontic assistant full time, when I'm not at preschool. I love BOTH jobs equally!! I am a single Mom to an energetic 10 year old who loves to play baseball and be outdoors! In the few spare minutes I have to myself I love to play piano, listen to music and sing!!!

Director of Children's Music

Mindy Mennicke

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Hi HoP!

I am delighted this year to have the honor of leading our Sunday School children in song!  As many of you know, this is my true passion, as I have been leading one of the children's choirs (3rd-6th graders) at Bethlehem Lutheran in Minneapolis for over 12 years and I also teach PreK-5th grade music and choir at La Academia Elementary School in Chaska by day.  It has been exciting to get to know our youngest HoP members and share God's love through music with them.

You might also know that I married into music - my husband Phil directs the Senior Choir and Handbells - and we have 2 musical boys, Jack and Jamie, but they are very humble about this.

Simple Supper Coordinator

DuAnn Thompson


Laughter, Iced decaf coffee with half and half, Kitties and family. These are a few of my favorite things. I also love to bake/cook for larger groups (more chances to share the calories), LOVE to go to Dance Jam, Zumba and Street Vybe at the gym and experiment with how much garlic and onion can I put in a dish?. I’ve been a member at HOP for almost 8 years and LOVE to volunteer, listen to our AWESOME music every Sunday and keep coming back to renew my soul and faith journey with my House of Prayer Brothers and Sisters.

On a personal note, I grew up in Marcell, MN, went to Bemidji State University and wanted to be a copy editor after I graduated. Thank God for internships to see if one wants to do their chosen field for 50 years. I’m married to John (yes he’s a Packer fan, but we have followed Gopher Volleyball since 1996) and we live in Bloomington. My full time job is an Administrative Assistant in the Semiconductor Industry. SO GLAD to be a part of the House of Prayer Team! Come and join us Wednesday nights for Simple Suppers!

Organist/Assistant Music Director

Jon Kietzer

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I like big pipes and I cannot lie, you other organists cannot deny.

Phone: (612) 500-9524

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