Reverend Dr. Niveen Ibrahim Sarras, is our new pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Prior to her call here, she served as the Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wausau, WI, since 2016.
As a Palestinian woman, born in Bethlehem (in the West Bank), a member of a Christian family among a population of Muslim majority, Pastor Niveen has experienced the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians firsthand. Her first bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies was earned in Cairo, Egypt, to which she had fled during hostilities. This was followed by her first master’s degree earned in theological studies at a Presbyterian seminary in Cairo. When she returned to Bethlehem, she was aware that in her country, a woman cannot be a spiritual leader.
Her heart led her first to Chicago, IL, and then to Berkley, CA, where she would earn additional master’s degrees in theological studies and in divinity. A PhD in Old Testament Studies of the Hebrew Bible from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago completes Pastor Niveen’s educational background. Proficiencies in Hebrew, English, and German languages afford her the ability to study Biblical texts (and the writings of Luther) in their original languages.
Learning, teaching, and sharing messages of love and hope are a core part of who she is; however, so are gardening, hiking, and sharing a good cup of tea with friends. Sharing the Word is integral to who Pastor Niveen is. She has presented papers on topics from the Bible and taught classes in continuing education at several Wisconsin universities.
Jean Memken comes to us from northwest Missouri. She has spent most of her career in the college classroom, teaching courses in housing and environmental design, research methods, and statistics. She moved to Neenah in the summer of 2020 and started working at St. Mark's in August of that year. Jean is married to Michael who is a college professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. They have three children - Benjamin, Sarah, and Jonathan.
Jean sees her work at St. Mark's as a calling. She is always excited to help the members of St. Mark's carry out their mission statement - Celebrating the joy of faith through love and service. Jean also serves as an assisting minister, lay reader, and sings in the choir.
When not working as the church administrator, Jean enjoys traveling, cooking, and calls herself a "fierce" knitter. She also enjoys art, especially folk art.
You can find Jean in the church office on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings and right after worship on Sundays.