Pastor Connie Thomson is the pastor at River of Grace, and she's pretty excited about the new beginning going on for all of us. Pastor Connie is a self-proclaimed "Jesus Freak," and she means that in the fun, light-hearted and beautiful sense of the word. She really loves the life and the lessons God taught us through the person of Jesus. She has a way of bringing life and faith together, and of inviting other people to do a lot of that, too. She's not very good at small talk, and people have been known to get out of their comfort zones when she's around; but she does it all, she says, because she loves God and she loves people, and she believes that we're all better off when we recognize that God is up to something holy and wonderful in each person's life. She's also got a pretty goofy sense of humor, and she's not afraid to use it. The best way to get to know her is to stop by the church some day or come and worship with us on Sundays. She'll notice that you're there, and she'll be glad about it.
Pastor Connie spent almost all of the first 18 years of her life in Fairfax and Annandale, and when she graduated from Oakton High School in 1985 she headed for college in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Capital University in 1989 and went straight to seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She graduated in 1993 with a Masters in Divinity, and went on to serve two congregations consecutively in Madison, Wisconsin before she accepted a call to start a brand new congregation in a suburb of Indianapolis, New Joy Lutheran Church, in 1999. In March of 2012 she accepted the call to help the people of what was formerly known as Christus Victor Lutheran Church forge a new identity and ministry in the Manassas area, and with lots of prayer and conversations with folks, she named our church River of Grace. A river is always changing, she says, and at the same time, God's grace is always abundant. It shapes and changes our lives, all for the beauty of the world around us.
Pastor Connie and her twin daughters live in Manassas. Living nearby are her parents, her only brother, a couple of nieces, and her very first great-niece. They live in Gainesville and Clifton, so moving back to this part of the world was really a "coming home" for her. She's become reacquainted with lots of old friends and looks forward to what the future brings back home in northern Virginia.
We have a dynamic group of leaders
in our Church Council and Ministry Teams
Council Vice President
Hello, my name is Stuart Ransom. I’m a brother. I’m a nephew. I’m a cousin. I’m an uncle. I’m a brother-in-law. I’m a veteran. I love reality television. When I’m not glued to the big screen watching the Real Housewives of somewhere, Chrisley Knows Best, or the Kardashians, I’m probably refereeing an argument between my four sarcastically opinionated children. My beautiful wife of fifteen plus years, Veronica, enjoys watching me debate with our three-year-old daughter about the substantial differences between My Little Pony and Doc McStuffins toys. I love to BBQ vast varieties of meats and poultry on a charcoal grill and or wood smoker. When it comes to working experience, I transitioned from the military right into a career in the telecommunications industry.
My journey to River of Grace begins at Epiphany Lutheran Church. I was one of many from ELC who decided to join RoG and continue doing God’s work in Prince William County, VA after a bittersweet no merger vote in summer 2016. I joyfully continue to worship at RoG because of the grace, Christian education, and diversity.
I chose to serve because to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).
Donna O’Mahony is the leader of our Music Ministry at River of Grace, and also has served leading our Worship Team and as our Congregational president. You will often see her working with Sunday morning volunteers, setting up the worship slides, folding worship folders, and making sure everything is right “in the background.” She loves our church and has roots from a former congregation in this place, Christus Victor, that helped River of Grace get its start. Donna gives thanks for the welcome feeling and positive energy in all of our ministries, and says that both CVLC and RoG have been a second home. “We have made many friends and it helps keep me grounded in God.” Donna is married to Vince and has three children: Cady, Donald, and Chris (married to Kenny) and LOVES being a grandma to two beautiful grandchildren! What Donna wishes more people knew about Christianity is that knowing God’s love can really help people through bad times and also help people be more aware of their blessings. A wish she has for herself is to live in the Outer Banks, and a dream she has for our church is to grow and be able to be financially independent from the synod and be able to make a real difference in our community. She also wants us to be able to help families in need, repair homes in need, and offer help for those in need!
I am Peter Bonanno from Darien, Connecticut and now Manassas, Virginia, with stops throughout the heartland of our country courtesy of my career in the Air Force, in between. My spiritual journey at River of Grace has been a true blessing to me and my family. My relationship with Boy Scout Troop 43 brought me to River of Grace several years ago. I was inspired to actually join the church because Pastor Connie ministered to me during some tough times in my life. Her loving spirit sustains my faith and inspires my service to our church. The fulfillment of serving on the council, playing in the River Rising Band and the friends my wife Gretchen and I have made here at River of Grace have enriched our spirit and brought us closer to scripture and our Lord. Our 2017 way ahead, I believe, with the plan our council has put together for the coming year, has RoG on a path for us to touch lives in our community, help us minister more effectively to each other, and put us on a pathway to financial independence. I very much want to serve our congregation and our pastor as we begin our 2017 journey.
Building and Maintenance Lead
I’m Chuck Brown. I was born in New Jersey, but have mostly lived in Northern Virginia. I work as the owner of a building permit business, servicing most of the big housing builders in N. Va. My hobbies are, playing the drums in a rock band, metal detecting for civil war relics and fishing.
Two years ago my family and I were seeking a new church. A friend of ours who was a member at River of Grace suggested we try there. The first service we attended we were hooked! We felt nothing but loved, welcomed and a great since of belonging. I enjoy helping and servicing the church any way I can and will be very proud and dedicated to serve on the council.
Church Council member-at-large
Hi there, I'm Jennifer Kuendel, usually go by Jenn. I am married to my wonderful husband, Scott Kuendel. Together, we have our daughter, Charlotte who is 2.5 years old... going on thirteen. Scott and I were born and raised in Woodbridge, VA and Charlotte will be also. We found River of Grace about 2 years ago when looking for a church to get married in. So, we attended service one Sunday and instantly felt at home. Needless to say, we got married at the church and have been coming ever since! When Pastor Connie approached me about this role, I was excited and honored to know I would be a part of something so important, but most of all fun and uplifting! I love planning events and taking care of all the details that are involved (especially the crafty ones)! I look forward to taking on this role and working with others to bring on an exciting year for River of Grace!
Service Ministry Leader
I’m Kathy Panther. I am originally from Minnesota, a born and bred Norwegian Lutheran. Virginia has been my home of residence between tours abroad since my husband and I began working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1979. In 2014, following the passing of my husband from early onset Alzheimer's, I began looking for a permanent new church home. Although I had concerns about the small size of River of Grace, Connie's sermons, Marcus' music and the warm welcome I received from the church family kept me coming back. One day a friend said to me, "Kathy, in your search for a new church you talk about what you need from the church, but how about what you can give to a church?" That was the end of my search and I signed the River of Grace charter. I am thrilled about the new opportunity I am being given to lead and work side-by-side with the congregation on the Service Ministry Team. As I move into retirement in a couple of months I had been praying for guidance on the direction my new life should take, and as always, God has answered my prayers with this opportunity. My career has been spent serving women and children's health needs in Africa, and now by God's grace and with your help I am blessed to be able to continue serving right here in our community.
Education and Youth Ministry Leader
Hello, I’m Jim Hedrick. I am from Virginia, I was born in Washington DC and grew up in Falls Church VA. When I was young our family belonged to Redeemer Lutheran church in McLean VA. This is where I went through Confirmation classes and Kathy and I were married.
We moved to Prince William in 1989 and at the time I was not attending church. I had taken a break for about 10 years. I had the feeling I was missing something in my life and after about two years of reading the Christus Victor sign on the side of the Route 234 I decided it was time to come back. I was here for the transition over to River of Grace and it was exactly what I needed.
I believe your spiritual growth should never stop. Worship is a wonderful and important part of your faith journey, but it is not everything you need. I think understanding your faith and your gifts comes from furthering your understanding of the word and making it part of your everyday life. I was inspired by my two previous pastors to read more, take on more responsibilities, and have faith God will always be with you. Everyone should have the same opportunity I had.
Outreach and Growth Ministry Leader
Hi my name is Arielle. I was born and raised in California and moved to Virginia in high school. I like meeting new people so my role as Outreach and Growth ministry leader is well suited. I started going to River of Grace in March 2017 I fell in love with the people and atmosphere. While on the Outreach and Growth team last year, I learned to love interacting with and throwing events for the community, and also helping to plan events and suggest new ideas. When I’m not at the church, I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing board games, and watching movies.