Rev. Aleksandr von Schmidt
I was born in 1973 in a Soviet family, raised in Communist society, but always had an interest in the Divine - around 12 years old I figured out there is something more than a Communist ideology. I got my first Bible at age 16, read most of the New Testament by 17, and wanted to be baptized. From 1991-1995 I earned a B.Sc. in Air-Conditioning Engineering and joined the Navigators (Student ministry) at age 18. After a couple of years of deep Bible Studies, I was not satisfied with a lack of the Sacramental aspect in my life. On May 28th, 1995 I was baptized in a Lutheran Church (St. Michael's congregation, St. Petersburg - Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia [ELCIR]). On November 26th, 1995 got married. We have four kids - from 23 to 16 years old - 2 boys and 2 girls. I started my pastoral education in September 1995 in the LCMS Mission pastoral training program (Some of my professors were Dr. Robert Kolb, Dr. Samuel Nafzger). Then I went to the ELCIR seminary. Graduated in 2000, writing a final paper on "Private Confession in the Bible and Lutheran Confessions". Was ordained as an associate pastor on April 25th, 1999. For a youth ministry pastor in St. Peter's congregation in Kolpany. January - December 2000 I was the Head of PR department of the ELCIR. On April 29th, 2001 I was ordained as a pastor of a mission congregation, St. Paul, St-Petersburg. Starting with two families we grew into 2 congregations of 20 and 10 people each. In December 2003, I was called to be a pastor for a Toksovo congregation. 2004 - 2009 I got my M.Th. (STM equivalent) - Biblical Studies of Old Testament - from the University of Wales (Cardiff, UK). I was called to Messianic Lutheran Congregation (St-Petersburg) in September 2008.
My family moved to the USA in November 25th, 2013. Since the ELCIR and the LCMS are in the Altar and Pulpit Fellowship - after a meeting with Pacific South-East District President Rev. Dr. Larry Stoterau - I was allowed to do pulpit supply. February 2018 I transferred my pastoral credentials from the ELCIR to the LCMS.
Gregory H. Riley, M. Mus. Director of Music Ministries
Gregory is Director of Music Ministries at Zion Lutheran Church, which includes serving as organist, pianist, choir director, and choir accompanist. He holds a B.A. in Music from Principia College, where he studied organ with John Near and piano with Marie Juriet, and an M.M. in Organ Performance from Eastern Michigan University, studying under the tutelage of Scott Elsholz and Timothy Tikker. Postgraduate studies were with Dr. Gregory Hand at the University of Iowa. Gregory is a native of Plymouth, MI.
Rob Mees, Parish Assistant
Rob is a California native having been born and raised in Culver City, Ca. Rob received his B.S. in Psychology at Cal Poly SLO in 2011 and got married to Michelle Standley in 2015. Rob was the Youth Director at Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande for four years. In October of 2018 Rob started at Zion Lutheran Church. Rob has the joy of coming up with classes and fun events for youth and families. Rob also enjoys working on computers in his spare time.
Office Assistant: Julie Blackketter
Tuesday-Friday, 9am to noon