About Us

Our Ministers

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Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D.
Senior Minister

Dr. Elnes received his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary and served as Senior Pastor of Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ in Scottsdale, Arizona (www.artinworship.com) from 1995 to 2008, when Countryside welcomed him as our Senior Minister.

He is internationally recognized for creating multi-sensory, experiential worship that transcends classification as “traditional” or “contemporary.” Eric’s books include, Igniting Worship: The Seven Deadly Sins (Abingdon, 2004) and Asphalt Jesus: Finding a New Christian Faith Along the Highways of America (Jossey-Bass, 2007). He was the lead author and editor of the Phoenix Affirmations – a popular, ecumenically developed set of twelve principles that are becoming an important theological backbone of the progressive Christian movement in and outside the United States.  He can be reached at (402)391-0350, ext. 113 and erice@countrysideucc.org.

Rev. Chris Alexander
Associate Minister

Rev. Alexander has spent over 20 years in active ministry.  Chris was raised the youngest of 5 daughters in Columbus, OH and received her bachelors degree from Capital University in Columbus Ohio.  She then moved to Chicago in 1985 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Theology and Literature from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, which she completed in 1987.

In 1988 Chris married her husband, The Rev. Dr. Scott Frederickson, and they have two daughters.

From 1990 to 1998 Chris served as a Program Associate on the national staff of the then newly formed ELCA in Chicago and worked with the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, and Luther Seminary, while Scott pursued his Ph.D. at Luther Seminary.  In 1998 the two accepted a joint call to Resurrection Lutheran Church in Blaine, MN, where Chris served as the Ministry Development Coordinator and implemented their Small Group Ministry.  In 2003 the family moved to Bismarck when Scott was called to the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.  Chris administered their capital campaign, implemented their Small Group Ministry, and realized her own call to ordained ministry.  In 2005 Chris returned to seminary within the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries Program at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley CA, in order to complete the requirements for ordination.  She performed her internship with Faith Lutheran Church in Bismarck in 2006, and was formally ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on January 18, 2007, after being called by Faith Lutheran as their Associate Pastor.

Chris joined Countryside Community Church in December 2010.  She can be reached at (402) 391-0350, ext. 130 and chrisa@countrysideucc.org.

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Rev. Bruce Van Blair
Minister of Lay Ministries

Rev. Van Blair grew up in the now extinct orange groves of Southern California east of Whittier.  After graduating from the University of Redlands, and marrying Mariana Van Loenen, the two headed across country for Andover Newton Theological School, near Boston.  Bruce was ordained in the Congregational Christian Church in November 1959, before most local congregations had voted into the United Church of Christ.

Bruce has been the Senior Pastor of eight congregations:  two in Massachusetts, four in California, one in Washington (Mercer Island, where he met Eric Elnes), and the most recent being an online church, which started streaming its services out of his home in Port Townsend, WA, but which moved via the internet to Countryside Community Church in January 2014.

Bruce thinks the most exciting part of church life is seeing the transformation that occurs when people discover that the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Jesus is still very much alive and eager for a relationship with them.  He loves participation in Disciple Bands;  week-end retreats;  watching people finding their vocation.  He also enjoys birding (Didn’t Jesus say, “Consider the birds.”)

Bruce & Mariana have two children (Willene & Brennan), and seven grandchildren.  He can be contacted at (402) 391-0350, ext. 121 and brucev@countrysideucc.org.

Mr. James Larrabee
Minister of Music

Jim Larrabee joined the staff in July of 2002. His undergraduate work was in Voice Performance at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and his graduate work in Church Music at Westminster Choir College. Since 1983, he has served American Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic and UCC churches in Iowa, New Jersey and Illinois.  He is a Commissioned Minister of Music in the United Church of Christ and President of the United Church of Christ Musician’s Association. He can be contacted at (402) 391-0350, ext. 115 and jiml@countrysideucc.org.

Mrs. Rita Otis

Rita Otis is a trained Spiritual Director with a certificate in Spiritual Direction and Directed Retreats from Creighton University. She is a Commissioned Minister of Spiritual Direction in the United Church of Christ and a member of Spiritual Directors International. She can be contacted at (402) 556-1856 and rmotis@outlook.com.

Dr. Ron Roskens

Ron Roskens serves the Living Waters Association of the Nebraska Conference as a licensed minister, and serves Countryside Community Church in a variety of capacities at the request of the Senior and Associate Ministers, including weddings and funerals and pastoral visitations.  He may be contacted by leaving a message at (402) 391-0350, or by email at rroskens@qwest.net.

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