Staff of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church

Meet Our Staff

Todd Friesen, Lead Pastor

East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church called me to be their lead pastor in 2013. My family loves living in the city of Lancaster and being able to walk everywhere by foot, whether our church, Central Market, or a coffee shop. And we love being part of a faith community that is deeply committed to seeking the welfare of this city and joining what God is already doing here, especially in our surrounding neighborhood. We welcome you to join us in this life-transforming journey!

My faith has been deeply shaped by the five years that I spent living in Jerusalem as a child. It was at Goshen College that I met my wife, Dennette, and that our interest in China first blossomed. We spent seven years serving in Chengdu and Beijing with Mennonite Partners in China. A highlight of our work was building relationships with sisters and brothers in the growing Chinese church. I heard God’s call to become a pastor through the witness of their faithful lives and costly discipleship. I graduated from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN) in 2000 and then pastored a church in Chicago for 13 years.

In recent years, God has been be reshaping my faith and ministry through a deepening life of contemplative prayer. Here are links to an article I wrote about a Centering Prayer retreat (Out of My Mind, Into My Heart) and an interview which includes reflections on the role of prayer in my pastoral work (Training in Jesus’ Way). I am presently in training to become a commissioned presenter in Centering Prayer with Contemplative Outreach.

My wife is a massage therapist and our daughter is a middle school student. In our free time, we enjoy taking walks in County Park, watching movies, gardening, cooking, and playing with our dog Zoey.

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 elementary-aged 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!)