Greetings from the Pres House Staff! Let us introduce ourselves…
Mark Elsdon, Executive Director/Campus Co-Pastor
“I entered college very sure of my faith. That was both good and bad. I found that my image of God, though strong, was actually quite small. Spending time in the dorms talking with friends and on the streets talking with homeless people opened up my perspective on faith. I found that God was in fact much bigger than any of my conceptions, and that has shaped my conception of what a campus church / campus ministry should entail. I hope you find that reflected in the home that is Pres House here at UW-Madison..
As a pastor I continue to find that God is bigger than me or my attempts to talk about God. And that excites me! Jesus Christ is more than a concept, more than an idea, more than an image on the cover of a magazine. He is the living Word of God, constantly challenging me to live a love-filled, grace-filled life. He is an event, an experience, a person. And he is bigger than my doubts and questions. Which is why I am free to voice and ask them. It is my hope that Pres House is always a place where God challenges our small conceptions, where we freely question and seek, and where we experience God anew whether we have known God for years or are simply wondering… “
Mark has served Pres House since 2004. Born in the Midwest to immigrants from England, Mark has also lived in the southern, western, and eastern parts of the United States. He is married to Erica and they have two daughters. Mark has a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and expects to graduate in May 2017 with an MBA from the Wisconsin School of Business. When not hanging out with college students Mark can be found training and racing his bike in the hills surrounding Madison or trying to keep up with the silliness of his daughters.
Mark is at Pres House Tuesday-Friday and Sundays.
“Until I entered college, I thought Christianity was mythology and that Christians were weak-minded people. But I ended up sharing my dorm room with a Christian and to my surprise, we became friends. During that year, I was challenged to examine what I believed about life and community. What I discovered was that the love and power of God brings radical transformation within people and the world. God’s call for our lives goes way beyond what we can imagine–it’s much riskier, bolder, and fulfilling than the plans we make.
There are many “dividing walls of hostility” we put up between each other–racial, economic, sexual orientation, gender, political, religious, just to name a few–I believe strongly in Jesus’ vision where all people are reconciled to God and one another. I invite you to enter into this community, not to find people who are just like you, but to live out the commandment to love God and ALL your neighbors which means practicing what I call “holy friction.” I hope you will engage in that journey with the community at Pres House.”
Erica has served Pres House since 2004. She is a second generation, Taiwanese-American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She lives in Madison with her husband, Mark, and their two daughters. Erica has a BA in Mass Communications from UC Berkeley and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Some of her favorite spiritual disciplines include practicing the martial art, taekwondo, and Sabbath.
Ginger Morgan, Director of Residential Community at Pres House Apartments
“It took me a long time to learn that I couldn’t always see around the next bend in life, in spite of all my plans to the contrary! What a delightful and surprising journey that has brought me here, to a home at the heart of the UW campus: Pres House Apartments. I’ve lived a lot of different places (Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Colorado, India, Nebraska) and done a lot of different types of work (college admissions, chaplain, crisis counselor, natural foods grocery stocker, dean of students) and am still excited by what I’ll learn, who I might meet, and how the path will unfold.
I am looking forward to working with the students living at the PH Apartments to nurture a sense of community and to support each resident as they integrate their education with their life experiences and values to find their own path forward. I hope you will consider whether PH Apartments could be your home for a time, whether you could contribute to our community and discover something (perhaps unexpected) about how your own journey might unfold.”
Ginger Morgan holds a PhD from Denver University & Iliff School of Theology and comes to Pres House having served as the Associate Dean of Students at Colorado College. She has extensive experience in mental health, higher education administration and pastoral care. Though hailing from the midwest, she had the opportunity to live for two and a half years in India, for five years in Nashville, TN and for over 16 years in Colorado Springs, CO. She comes to Madison in the company of her partner Chris and their two children.
Mynda Joe, Office Manager
This year marks my fifth year at Pres House. Over the past few years I have been blessed to be a part of many changes here. We have celebrated 10 years of Pastors Mark and Erica’s ministry at Pres House, brought back the basement space for our students and programs, and a host of other activities. I enjoy many aspects of my position, but I find the most joy in the relationships that have developed over the last five years, from donors, board members, to students. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my children, husband, and grand daughter. I also love reading and learning about history, social justice, Agatha Christie mysteries, and travel. And I am always up for dancing.
Music has always been my source of connection with God. I’ve found it has an un-matchable way of transcending our daily lives and thoughts and lifting us up into a state of worship. It uniquely combines the emotional with the physicality of singing or playing an instrument with the theological wisdoms of our faith, all while binding us together as a community. Growing up, I was often involved with church music (yes at a Presbyterian church!), but I came to fully appreciate its power in my life and the lives of others during college when I began worship leading. I haven’t stopped since! After graduating from Northern Michigan University with dual bachelor degrees in music (voice) and psychology, I moved to Evanston, IL and served at the First Presbyterian Church for over 8 years. In 2014, I moved to Madison and began serving at Christ Presbyterian Church as the Contemporary Worship Director. I appreciate all styles of worship and have focused specifically on contemporary worship, directing handbells, hymns, and worship services in the style of Taize in the past. The music is important to me, but what I truly love is getting others involved in the leading. I grew up in the unbeatable Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I’m thrilled to be back in area where kayaking, camping, hiking, and all things nature are a lot more accessible!
Laura Andrews, Chef
I am so excited to fill the role of chef at Pres House. I believe there are several ways to minister and one of those is creating a community where people can gather and grow together. What better way to do that than breaking bread together! Serving meals is a way for me to share God’s love and give people the opportunity to develop relationships with one another and build community that encourages our faith.
Laura hails from Athens, Georgia where she received a BSA in Avian Biology at the University of Georgia. She is a member of Christ Presbyterian Church Madison and enjoys leading worship as a member of the worship band with Natalie Handley. At CPC Laura is a member of the connections commission which provides hospitality and community to the church through meals, events and fellowship time. When Laura is not in the kitchen she works for Trek Bicycle as the Communications Manager for BCycle. In her spare time Laura enjoys savoring the great outdoors by foot, bike and paddle with her husband and pug.