WHO WE ARE
MISSION + VALUES
To be alive through the words, actions, and presence of Jesus
katie sanders, community connection pastor
I joined the UR Staff in February of 2006 to serve as the Director of UR Kids. My roles at Upper Room have been many over the years but in the midst of it all - I am so thankful that I get to help lead such an amazing community. I love studying and celebrating the ways we individually and collectively journey with Jesus. The last several years I have also been a part of the work of the Fuller Youth Institute. I am currently coaching several churches all across the country as they seek to help young people engage with the church. A few things about me… I grew up in Florida but have found Minnesota feels more and more like home. I love spending time with friends and family (especially my husband Travis, our son Henry, and dog June). I also love yoga, reading, writing, sunshine, time at the beach, and a good karaoke bar!
todd bratulich, teaching pastor
I joined the Upper Room staff in November 2019 to serve as Teaching Pastor. Having served in various pastoral and non-profit roles around the Twin Cities for over 25 years, I have known of UR for years, and was drawn to their collaborative approach to leadership, and the generosity of their mission. Finding life and the intersection of action and contemplation, I have sought to walk with people and communities as we discover our beloved identity, and connect with one another in ways that might stir creativity and generosity in serving our communities' greatest needs. My wife Jenni and I live in Minneapolis with our 3 children, Solveigh, Edwin & Ayla, where we love getting outside to enjoy nature and the city. When not at home or church, you can find me on a bike, in the woods, or drinking good coffee.
carol voelker, ministry coordinator: prayer + care
I joined the staff at UR in 2012 as the Babes Coordinator. As the desire to know and hear God grew in our community, I put my focus on prayer. Listening prayer, prayer support teams, and prophetic prayer as well as community gathering prayer became my focus. I am an early childhood teacher at an intergenerational senior housing complex in Chanhassen. I have been married to Carl since 1982 and together we had the joy of raising 4 kids who reside in Oregon, San Diego, LA, and Washington D.C.
hannah sinnwell, director of ur kids
I started attending Upper Room in 2012 and quickly became part of the UR Kids Ministry, spending most of my time with the Upper Room Preschoolers. I've enjoyed getting to try different roles, from a UR Kids Leader to Director of UR Kids. I find my energy spending time with kids and seeing how they experience their relationship with Jesus. I grew up in Colorado and moved to Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College where I received a degree in Chemistry and Chinese Studies. After graduation, I migrated up to the Twin Cities and have enjoyed making this place my home. I enjoy spending my time running, exploring new coffee shops and restaurants, and being outside, whether to hike or hammock.
sara johnson, director of ur students
I came to Upper Room in 2009 when I wasn’t even looking for a church or a relationship with God. Since the very first time I attended a Sunday gathering, I knew this was a special place. While first attending out of respect to my now husband, God quickly tugged at my heart in ways I could have never imagined. It was here at Upper Room that I began the slow process of coming home to God. As I learned more about Jesus and my purpose, I became more and more drawn to the UR Students program. I became a mentor and shortly after decided to step into more of a leadership role within the program. I love creating spaces for people to connect with others and learn more about God. I feel the most alive when I'm helping people discover more about their individual purpose and goals. My Husband Kyle and I live with our son Remi and two dogs in New Hope.
jared nelson, ministry coordinator: junior high
I was introduced to Upper Room Students in the summer of 2016 by a friend encouraging me to become a mentor. I caved and loved my first year in the program. Katie asked if I'd be interested in taking a bigger role, planning and helping on Wednesdays and I couldn't say "yes" quick enough. Upper Room Students is special in how we foster meaningful relationships between students and mentors, and I also love how the mentors are able to connect and grow together. It's a warm community that I love hanging with every Wednesday. In addition to students, mentors, and Jesus, I love books, podcasts, running, basketball, and exploring new restaurants with my wife Greta.
jim lee, operations pastor
I joined Upper Room staff in September of 2019. I am married to Darcy and we have a little girl named Harlow. My first experience with Upper Room was back in 2003-2009 where I attended through high school, college and post-college years. I received my undergraduate degree in marketing from Clemson University and my Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. I was born and raised in the Twin Cities area and we now call South Minneapolis home. We love being outside, walking around our neighborhood, traveling to national parks and spending time with family. I also love to snowboard, see movies and watch college football.
andrea sawers, outward movement coordinator
I first attended Upper Room back in 2003 after a long season away from any sort of organized church community. I still recall the unexpected grace that I experienced that first night, and how I fought back tears for the majority of that gathering. It was the initial step, in a very long walk back, towards God. A few years later, work and life, pulled me away from MN, but in 2012 when I relocated back to the Twin Cities, high on the list of reasons why it was great to “be home” was this community. Since 2017, I have had the opportunity, and privilege, to work alongside the UR staff in a variety of ways, some of which include 6200 Mentoring, UR Kids, and our partnership with Sheridan Story & the Richfield STEM school. In the years ahead, I hope to use my gifts around event planning to help build community & relationships within UR, while moving outward to serve & love those on the fringes, especially those experiencing racism, poverty, and homelessness. Life outside of UR is a busy balancing act of marriage, parenting, working part-time as an RN, and carving out time & space to just enjoy life with our amazing family and friends. Among my favorite things… just walking the dog, Bella, planning the next project/adventure with my husband Youssef, doing anything creative and “artsy” with my daughter Lila, and getting legitimately beat for the 100th time playing cards with my son Owen.
bonnie meendering, STEM partnership coordinator
My husband Marlin and I began attending Upper Room in 2011. After 18 years of being in ministry and then attending different churches we both began wondering if the church was where we belonged. We decided to try Upper Room. That evening the message and music touched my soul and I had a sense that I was home. It has been a deep joy. I retired in 2018 from Eden Prairie Schools and in May of 2019 was commissioned as a Spiritual Director through the Christos Center for Spiritual Formation. I am asking God for future direction and helping as Volunteer Staff at Upper Room seems a first step. Marlin and I have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. I love to walk while listening to podcasts, gardening, and doing Zentangle, but my favorite pastime is sipping a cup of coffee at Caribou with someone enjoying great conversation.
On January 5, 2009, Upper Room was legally incorporated as an independent church with a fully-empowered two-board governance structure:
A governing Board which acts as the primary overseer of our mission, values and senior staff. They also have final approval on annual budget recommendations made by the Resource Team.
A Resource Team that helps create and monitor the annual budget and tracks monthly giving and expenses.
OUR board members
Raquel Jarabek (Board Chair), Josh Metcalfe (Vice Chair), Quinn Gorski (Treasurer), Laura Svoboda, Marlin Meendering, Jamie Hornibrook, Heather O'Connell and Emily Sample
OUR resource team members
Quinn Gorski (Chair), Lara Koza, Heather O'Connell, Greg Harms, Amy Friesen and Jim Lee (staff liason)
In May 2015, Upper Room entered into a collaborative ministry partnership with Colonial Church. Within that partnership agreement, Upper Room signed a lease with Colonial and moved its offices and weekly worship gatherings to Colonial’s campus.
Colonial Church and Upper Room desire to collaborate as two distinct churches for the sake of the kingdom of God in faithfulness to Jesus Christ. The values of our partnership are:
Unity with each other
Generosity toward each other
A vibrant witness to the world for Jesus Christ
Expectations of God’s new work in and through us
Our desire is to pursue unity, within our relationship as two distinct churches, according to Jesus’ prayer in John’s gospel: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:20-23)
To learn more about Colonial Church and what is happening there, click on the button below.