Staff of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church


Meet Our Staff

Todd Friesen, Lead Pastor

I love being part of a faith community that is deeply committed to following Jesus in daily life and joining what God is doing here in the city of Lancaster, especially in our surrounding neighborhood. If being part of that kind of church appeals to you then come check us out!

A bit about my own story. As a college student and young adult, I had little interest in faith or connecting with the church. That slowly began to change during the seven years that my wife and I spent working in China. I was surprised by God’s call to become a pastor through the beautiful lives of the Chinese Christians we came to know. I graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN) in 2000 and then pastored a church in suburban Chicago for 13 years​. East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church called me to be their lead pastor in 2013.

A couple spiritual disciplines are especially dear to me: contemplative prayer help me to connect with God and walking helps me connect with our city neighbors. Here are links to articles where I reflect on each one: Out of My Mind, Into My Heart and “Pastor Learns About His Community”. I’m also a trained spiritual director (AMBS, 2011) and a commissioned presenter in Centering Prayer (Contemplative Outreach, 2015).

My wife is a massage therapist and our daughter is a high school student. I enjoy taking bike rides in County Park, cooking Chinese dishes, birdwatching, following the Chicago Cubs, and watching movies with my family.


Samantha Lioi, Associate Pastor

Since becoming Mennonite through a small house fellowship during college, I have grown in understanding, receiving, and living the nonviolent gospel of Jesus Christ. This news has been good not only for me and my deepening faith and love, but also for my family and some of the friends I grew up with in North Jersey, where an Anabaptist understanding of Christianity was absent. I’m very grateful for the professors and friends at Houghton College (2002) and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (2010) who nurtured my love for scripture, expanded my knowledge of church history and the global church, and mentored me in spiritual disciplines of silence, simplicity, solitude, and celebration. It’s been a profound gift to be shaped by people and communities who share living space and meals beyond family boundaries, practice mutual aid, and make music together. My most significant experience living in intentional community was at Zumē House in Allentown, PA, from 2010-2015.

When East Chestnut Street called me to join the team as their Associate Pastor in November 2015, I’d experienced a few different Mennonite cultures, and there’s much more to learn in this new place! I’m grateful for a congregation who seeks to be open-handed with our neighbors in Lancaster City and with each other. Getting to know many of the “regulars” at our Community Meal on Monday nights is a great privilege of ministering here. This desire to open our hands also extends to a willingness to learn from different expressions of Christian faith and discipleship; ecumenical sensibilities, including my participation in Bridgefolk, a movement of friendship between Mennonites and Catholics, are welcome here.

I look forward to growing with ECSMC in deepening our connection with God in prayer and in passionately seeking justice and well-being for all people – especially people routinely pushed to the margins of church and society – and for the land.

I’m renewed and awed by spending time outside, where I enjoy photographing the details and expansive beauty of nature. I can often be seen walking or biking around town. I’ve lived in Tanzania and spent a bit of time on every continent, and I love to learn how life and language work in different cultures. I also make regular trips to see my brother and sister-in-law in Los Angeles, California.


Shannon Pipkin, Office Administrator

In my role at ECSMC, I provide administrative support for the congregation, church committees, and pastoral staff.

My past experience includes work in missions and outreach ministries, nonprofit Christian ministry, diversity training for college students, as well as several rewarding years as a full-time stay-at-home parent. Prior to coming to ECSMC, I served for three years as a Parish Resource Manager and Director of Communications for a large Lancaster city church

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Brian. We have three children – a daughter and two sons – and a border collie mix named Teddy. In my spare time, you might find me doing one or more of my favorite things: spending time outside with my family, laughing, reading, and eating good food. (This native Californian can’t get enough of authentic Thai and Mexican food!)