Pastor Doug Widger, Lead Shepherd

Doug has served churches in Oklahoma, Florida and Texas for the past 35 years. He has served as a DCE and Pastor in the LC-MS.  He and wife Karen were married in 1985 and have two adult children. Sarah (daughter) and her husband Stephen live in the greater Houston area where they are raising Jonathan (born in 2019).  Son, Joshua lives in the College Station area, having recently graduated from Texas A&M.

Doug loves to share God’s word and delights in seeing the Holy Spirit bring people into new life. One of his life verses is from 1 Corinthians 1:23-25  “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  24  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God 25  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

Pastor Steve Roth, Community Care

Steve Roth had the honor of pastoring Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Queens, NY, for 32 years. After living in New York for most of his life, he and his wife, Alison, moved to Cedar Hill, Texas in 2017. Eventually the Lord led them to Grace Lutheran Church, where they now continue their ministry in a part time role. Steve and Alison have two wonderful children, Matthew and Jennifer.

Steve’s greatest joy in the ministry is watching how Jesus Christ changes and matures people in the Church. It’s humbling to play a role in that process. One of his “life” verses is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Dr. Serena Pace, Director of Ministries

Having grown up around the world, Serena calls Texas HOME. She is married to Mike and has one very active son. Her family enjoys fishing and spending time on the lake together. She has served churches in Virginia, Texas and Missouri, as well as Concordia University – Texas and on the mission field in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has served the church as a called DCE since 1997 and began serving Grace in 2013.

She has always been excited about that ‘A-ha!’ moment that happens in spiritual formation and enjoys equipping God’s people in living out their faith and sharing the Gospel message. Proverbs 3:5-6 holds significance to Serena, as it serves as a reminder to place all trust and dependence on the Lord. “(5) Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Oh… and she’s a Longhorn! Hook ‘Em!

Jennifer Chavez, Director of Early Education

Jennifer has served as the director of Grace Lutheran Early Education (GLEE) since 2015. Having attended preschool at Grace as a four-year-old, she understands how important it is for teachers to pour the love of Christ into the hearts of children. Her teachers at Grace were able to plant seeds in her that would one day lead her back to Grace to teach in the classroom before eventually becoming the director. Jennifer is passionate about being able to provide hands on, age appropriate learning opportunities to children in a safe and loving environment.

She has spent the last 18 years with her husband, Richard, chasing after their five children, who all attended GLEE for preschool. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelors of Science. She looks forward to finding new, fun ways of bringing the love of Christ to the teachers and families at Grace Lutheran and GLEE.  One of her favorite verses to share is Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Cynthia Jackson, Director of Communications

Cynthia came to GLC in April of 2019. She formerly served as the Financial Secretary for Fossil Creek Community Church in Fort Worth for almost 27 years before joining our staff. She has one daughter, Margo Elise, who recently married Ben Pearson, and they live in Fort Worth. In her free time, Cynthia loves to hike, travel, enjoy art and spend quality time with friends and family.

Cynthia now serves in a supporting role “behind the scenes” in preparation for worship services, aids church and ministry leaders in conveying their vision and communications for church and community audiences, and will probably be the first person to happily greet you when you visit the church offices. Her favorite aspect of partnering at Grace is developing relationships with its wonderful members. Having grown up in church, she is still daily learning what it means to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, leaning heavily on scriptures like this one – Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Sharon Folks, Director of Operations

As a native of the Central Texas area, Sharon grew up in Marlin and later moved to Temple when she married her husband, Gary. She attended Temple College and pursued a career in business. As a graduate of the Land Title School of Texas Sharon served as Vice President and Manager of a land title insurance company for 15 years. During that time, God brought two beautiful children into their lives. Brandi, a daughter, who is a registered nurse in the transplant and critical care area; and a son, Brandon, who is a Major in the United States Air Force. In addition, they now have three grandchildren, Jadeyn, Adam, and Hannah, to love and to guide.

Following God’s plan and direction in her life has always been important to Sharon. She served as Church Administrator for Immanuel Lutheran Church in Temple for 15 years where she was the congregation’s principle business affairs coordinator, overseeing the budgeting process, and producing all financial reports for the congregation. When Sharon moved to Arlington in 2008, she felt that God led her to Grace Lutheran Church. Now, as the church’s Director of Operations, she oversees financial management, as well as coordinates both the physical plant and technology services for the congregation. With passion, Sharon enjoys and embraces using her God-given gifts to support ministry within our community and beyond. Sharon believes that, as stated in Galatians 2:20, “Christ lives in me,” and that she lives “by faith in the Son of God.”

Abbey Jarrett, Youth Ministry Intern

Abbey landed at GLC in August 2019. She is currently attending UTA and studying to earn a Double Bachelor’s in Art and Social Work. Her current favorite Bible verse (though it changes often) is Psalms 46:1-3 because though certain areas of her life have changed so drastically and fluidly due to college, she finds great comfort in knowing God remains consistent and is in control of everything. Among running around campus, staying busy with work and school, Abbey enjoys reading, weird cooking experiments, and participating in social justice projects.

Mark Oxner, IT Systems & Support Administrator

Mark has been in the Information Technology Support field for decades. After being in the corporate world for his whole career, he brought his skills and experience to GLC in late 2010. He describes his job as, “Doing my best to keep technology out of the way, even though it’s practically required in our society.” He strives to get the most out of technology without wasting anything. Interested in Texas and American history, he travels to historic places as much as he can and “collects” historical markers. Geocaching is another hobby. Favorite verse: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” –1 Peter 2:1

Jeremy Blaido, Contemporary Praise Director

Jeremy has been a worship leader for over 25 years and is passionate about the arts and helping artists use their gifts to express the incomprehensible love of God. After graduating from Keller High School, he attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC, and Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth studying musical theatre and vocal performance. Jeremy married his high school sweetheart Stacey in 1993 and together they have three children (Sarah, Jonah and Seth), one daughter-in-law (Nettie) and one grandson (Jason). His full-time job is with Parkway Construction and Architecture in Lewisville, TX as Director of Construction where he is focused on retail and restaurant partnerships. In 2016 Jeremy co-founded Wishing Star Stage Company, a children’s theatre located in Southlake, TX where he also serves as General Manager of the theatre ( Jeremy’s favorite verse is 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Jenna Del Cristo, Adult Discipleship/Small Groups

Jenna Del Cristo grew up in Texas and first came to GLC as a timpanist for special services in 2017. Little did she know, she would go on to join and lead much more in music and ministry! At that time, she was studying percussion and working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Music/Audio Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has since graduated, but while there, her eyes were opened to the reality of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. She committed to following Him in the same week, and since that point has never been the same. A little while later she got to know Richie and decided to commit to him, too. They got married at Grace Lutheran in December of 2018.

Outside of her exciting life happenings above, Jenna has been teaching music for the last 6 years through private lessons in percussion, piano, and voice, as well as high school front ensembles (marching band). She loves to craft, read, watch movies, write music, and do pretty much anything in the outdoors (as long as it’s not cave-diving). She also plays keys and sings in a local band, Cherry Mantis!

Her absolute favorite thing to do, though, is to have fruitful conversations with people and continue learning and experiencing more of God. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:4-6

Richie Del Cristo, Classical Music Director/ Young Adults

Richard Del Cristo, Jr. came to Grace Lutheran Church in February of 2019 after serving as an Interim Youth Director and Choral Singer at Plymouth Park UMC in Irving. Prior to his time at Grace, Richard “killed two birds with one stone”: graduating with his Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Texas at Arlington and marrying the love of his life, Jenna Watenpaugh Del Cristo, all in the same month!

Richard is passionate about enabling others to become “life-long learners” in music and in their faith. He is excited to share God’s love to all people. You will consistently find Richard up in the sanctuary loft conducting or in the worship band playing an instrument or two on Sunday mornings.

Aside from these, Richard enjoys outdoor activities (i.e. fishing, hiking, snowboarding, running from here to there, throwing a frisbee), indoor activities (i.e. board games, cooking, music-making, video games, hanging out), and in-sky activities (flying). His favorite past-time is connecting with others over their favorite beverage or food and learning more about their lives.

William Land, Organist/Accompanist/Drums

Will is a multi-instrumentalist, having studied percussion performance at Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. He came to Grace in 2019 and is currently studying audio engineering at UTA. 

His favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Red Hoar, Technical Director (Sound and Live Stream Production)

Red has been associated with Grace Lutheran Church since 1992 when he and his beautiful bride Susan were married in the Sanctuary. After 10 years on US Naval Submarines, they transferred their membership in 2000 back to Grace. He has taught Sunday school (Remember Kidmo?) and been on many kid retreats. He served two tours as a board member, where he fought hard to bring the UTA Student Center to Grace. He has been a big part of the Media Ministry, converting the system over from Arlington-Telecable and video cassettes, to a fully digital audio and video system. He helped bring in the sanctuary video screens and the live streaming of church services.

Red is the Software Development Project Manager for a local game simulation company. He loves to volunteer and with wife Susan and kids Jacob, Ryan and Rachel, has been a part of the Arlington Life Shelter for 20 years. He helps run the Ham Radio system for the City of Arlington. He teaches chess at a local elementary and builds the props for a local High School band and his favorite bible verses are Isaiah 56:12 and Psalm 150.