mEET OUR CHURCH STAFF

  • Rev. Jeannie himes
    senior minister

    Jeannie joined St. Stephen's as senior minister in June 2014. She was born into a Methodist clergy family in Lawton and has served in churches in Tulsa; Coweta; Kansas City, Mo.; and Midwest City. Jeannie attended Iliff School of Theology in Denver, earning her Master of Divinity in 1986. She was ordained as a Deacon in 1986 and as an Elder in 1988. Prior to beginning church ministry, Jeannie - a Science Education graduate of Oklahoma City University - worked in several hospitals in the field of cytogenetics. She and her husband Jim Eller, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, have two grown sons, Shaun and Sam. Jeannie says, "The stance of including and embracing all people is what the church and the society need for leading forward. St Stephen's embodies a Christ-like attitude with open hearts and minds."

  • Rev. Jennifer Ahrens-sims
    Assoc. pastor & Director of Care Ministries

    Jennifer became a minister as a second career, previously serving as a registered nurse in clinical education and cardiac nursing. She is a graduate of OU and the Saint Paul School of Theology, where she earned a Master of Divinity. Jennifer grew up in the Lutheran church and came to United Methodism as a young adult. Her first position on a church staff was in 2005. She was ordained as elder in 2018, shortly after being appointed to St. Stephen 's. Jennifer and her husband, Eddie, have two children, Jaeden and Eli. She loves St. Stephen’s because, “we have a strong sense of who we are, which includes living as people committed to being real and learning to love with all our realness.”

  • Lauren Mccall

    Administrative coordinator

    Lauren has been attending St. Stephen’s with her family since 1996 and joined the staff as administrative coordinator in 2018. You may also find her in the toddler room on Sundays, where she has worked on and off since 2000. Lauren earned a master's degree in Library and Information Studies, but says “working as support for people at St. Stephen's who are focused on brightening our community every day is an even more rewarding career path.” She is married to Brant, a doctor of family medicine in Oklahoma City. She loves spending time with her nephew, Gavin, and her cat, Eleanor. She also enjoys reading, discovering new music, trying out new craft beers, and traveling with friends. 

  • Dr. Vicki Schaeffer

    Director of music ministries

    Vicki joined St. Stephen’s as director of Music Ministries in 2019. A church musician

    since the age of 14, serving churches in Ohio, Indiana, Hawaii, and Oklahoma, she holds a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University, with a double major in organ performance and church music. Her other degrees are from Mount Union College and Kent State University. A teacher for more than 30 years, she is currently Director of College Counseling at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City, where she also teaches Music Appreciation and World Music. An active member of the American Guild of Organists, she is currently serving on their National Council. Vicki says, “It is a special joy to serve in a church with such a strong tradition of musical excellence.”

  • Rev. Dianne Peters
    director of Small Group ministries

    Dianne returned to the St. Stephen’s staff in September 2018, having served here as Senior Pastor from 1999 to 2007.  After serving as a United Methodist minister for 32 years, Dianne took early retirement and gladly returned to life here in Norman.  Jeff and Dianne call St. Stephen’s their spiritual home and are so grateful to be part of this special congregation!  Dianne has a passion for teaching and worship.  Jeff is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, specializing in severe weather.  The Peters love movies, travel and visiting art museums.  Their daughter Amanda graduated from Norman High in 2005.  She lives in Boston with her musician husband, John Ponte.

  • Lynnette Palmerton
    Director of children's ministries

    Lynnette joined St. Stephen's in 2018 after serving 10 years as Children’s Ministry director at Goodrich Memorial UMC in Norman. She has been active in the Methodist church since early childhood and often helped her mother teach Sunday school in Nebraska. A nursing graduate of South East Community College of Lincoln, Lynnette held several charge nursing positions in Nebraska and New Mexico before moving to Norman in 1998 with her husband, Mark, an artist and foundry owner, and their combined family. "I want every child to know they are welcomed and accepted as they are," she says. "I want them to know that God loves everyone and sent Jesus to teach us to be the best people we can be. We are all children of God." 

  • Alyssa Miller
    Director of Youth Ministries

    Alyssa joined St. Stephens in 2015 and volunteered as a youth group sponsor for about three years before becoming Youth Ministries Director in December 2018. She grew up in Anadarko and moved around after graduation to play college softball in Texas and Oklahoma. She earned a degree in kinesiology and currently works as a business analyst in a local bank compliance department. Alyssa is married to Amber Mathis, and they have three fur babies: Fiona, Finn and Fergus. In their free time, Alyssa and Amber enjoy hiking, fishing, sports and spending time with family. Alyssa loves being a member at St. Stephen’s because, “I know that I can come here and worship with like-minded individuals without the fear of judgement.”

  • Brent smith
    Programming and events coordinator

    Connected to St. Stephen’s since 1993, Brent says, “St. Stephen’s is a great place for exploring spirituality and raising a family in a loving community.” His current ministry is in refugee support as co-chair of a multi-church coalition. In addition to serving as Programming and Events Coordinator, Brent is also co-chair of the Adult Education Committee. He is an American Studies graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and earned his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. For nearly 30 years, he served in corporate financial management in the communications industry. Brent is married to Kim Oliver and has two grown children. A longtime Norman resident, he served in the mid-1980s on the City Council and has been active in many civic organizations. 

  • Julie sondag

    Worship and choir accompanist

    Julie and her husband Rick visited St. Stephen's in 1996, and it was the worship service music, and the welcoming message, that kept them returning.  While Julie completed her doctoral studies in Piano Pedagogy and Music Education from the University of Oklahoma, she also joined the church staff as choir accompanist and has been "warming the bench" ever since.  A music teacher for over 25 years, she has owned and operated Gymboree Play & Music for 18 years and is passionate about early childhood music education. Julie and Rick are proud to raise their daughters, Evie and Audrey, in a reconciling congregation that focuses on global-mindedness and respect for all life. "Our family is grateful to belong to a church whose members bravely step forward and put love into action."