Gethsemane Staff

Pr. John and Pr. Liz Backus

Pr. John and Pr. Liz Backus are Gethsemane's transitional Pastors. They are temporary and with Gethsemane to facilitate a swift, healthy transition from one permanent leader to another. 

Pastor John and Liz Backus moved to St. Louis almost three years ago, and are doing major rehab work on a house in Botanical Heights. They view St. Louis as their retirement destination. They have worked together for 37 years and are looking forward to this next adventure in mission and ministry. 

Pr. John:; Pr. Liz:

Kimberly Elliott - Office Manager

Kim is a member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church. She and her husband Mike are the proud parents of two girls, KT and Rowan.

Dr. Aria Thome - Choir and Bell Choir Director

Born in St. Louis, Aria is a native, but spent most of her time in Phoenix, AZ where she completed her Masters and Doctorate in Sacred Music. She wrote the music curriculum for the Diocese of Phoenix and performed as a contralto in the Cathedral Choir after stepping aside from directing to teach, direct community choirs, and serve the community as a voice teacher. Eleven nieces and nephews, however, pulled her from Phoenix back to St. Louis where her family resides. She loves reading the works of mystics, is a trained sound healer, as well as a shamanic practitioner. She's excited to bring Sacred Music to the community at Gethsemane and delve into getting to know this congregation. Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself to her! 

Dr. Steven Ball - Organist

Steven is an organist, improviser, composer, conductor, campanologist, organ consultant and specialist in silent film accompaniment.


A native of Michigan originally, Dr. Ball studied at the University of Michigan where he later went on to teach, serve as University Carillonneur, and the Director of the famous Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. He received his DMA in 2007 as a student of Marilyn Mason.   A former Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands, Steven Ball is also well known for his work in the world of campanology (the study of bells), improvisation, as an organ consultant, for silent film accompaniment and as a theater organist. He has traveled and performed extensively in both the United States and abroad including concerts in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, Ireland, England, Switzerland and Italy. He was inducted as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (a Papal Knighthood) in 2017.


He has served in several prominent churches and public institutions across the country over the years including as Organist and Director of Outreach (now Emeritus) for the world's largest pipe organ in Atlantic City, at the Cathedrals of Detroit and Philadelphia as well as previously having been on the faculty of the Organ Department at the University of Michigan.

Gretchen Jenson - Connections Coordinator

Gretchen works with our social media presence, our volunteers, and our new members, helping us communicate and get connected! Summer is her favorite season but New Years Day is her favorite holiday.  As a breast cancer survivor she encourages all women to get their yearly mammograms and encourages everyone to vote for leaders and policies that enable everyone to stay on top of their health. She and her husband, who are both St. Louis transplants, have three teenagers and a rescue mutt named Maizie. 

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