Gary Dawkins

Lead Pastor

As Mercy's Lead Pastor, Gary guides the pastoral staff, oversees ministries, and serves as the visionary leader to grow Mercy's family and the greater community in loving God and others. He is passionate about discipleship, community care, justice, and wants to see all people flourish. Gary holds an MBA from Syracuse University, an MS in Communications Management from Morgan State University, and has attended Northeastern Seminary and Capital Bible Seminary. He loves to cook, is an avid reader, and among his favorite things are playing Monopoly with his wife, LeKita, and his daughter, Grace.

Jessie Carlson

Executive Pastor

Jessie makes sure that all the behind the scenes work of the church moving in the same direction. She oversees the day to day work of the church staff and leaders- helping them to carry out the vision of Mercy. Previously, Jessie has served as Mercy's Kids' Pastor and worked on the Multiply Vineyard team as an Event Coordinator, working with Vineyard USA to support and send out new Vineyard churches. Jessie has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters of Organizational Leadership. She is a firm believer that the power of community is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus gave to us, and is thankful for the community surrounding her. She is married to Josh (the greatest thing that has ever happened to her- outside of meeting Jesus) and they have two school age boys that they love to play outside with, hike, and cheer them on at their various activities.

Tai-Kristin Bestick

Worship Pastor

Tai is over the moon to be the Worship Pastor of Mercy Vineyard Church. She is a lover of music and has a passion for creating spaces where people can connect with God through authentic worship. Tai is an Alabama native with a background in the Creative and Performing Arts. She enjoys singing, watching movies, and going to parks and museums with her husband Nathan, and sons Judah and Ezra.

Leo Alves

Youth Pastor

Leo oversees the youth ministry of Mercy. He’s Brazilian, born and raised. He also lived in New Jersey, Kansas City, and most recently Jacksonville, Florida. Leo’s married to the girl of his dreams, Sarah, and is the father of three wonderful kids named Levi, Lilly, and Lucas. Leo is a basketball fanatic, he loves soccer (futebol), and Brazilian steakhouses like all properly raised Brazilians should.

Dan Dutcher

Kid's Ministry Coordinator

Dan has been connected to Mercy since him and his family transplanted to the Twin Cities in 2013. Family meals, hiking and travel are some of his most beloved activities that he shares with his family.  Dan loves to be active and outdoors, especially if it involves some sort of aquatic sport or adventure. 

Linsey Zell

Director of Communication & Media

Linsey oversees the production team and communications for Mercy Vineyard Church. She graduated from Crown College with a communication degree and a minor in cross cultural ministry. She was born and lived in Brazil until about 13 years of age with her missionary family. While graphic design is her strong point, she enjoys video and audio production. Her hobbies now include filming and supporting her husband with his passion for traditional Cambodian music and lifting up his culture to empower refugees here in the U.S.

Liz Minne

Executive Assistant

Liz is the Executive Assistant to Pastor Gary. She is passionate about connecting with people, creating space for learning and growth, and listening to people's stories. She and her husband Adam have been at Mercy for eleven years, and started leading small groups about four years ago. When not at Mercy, you can find Liz visiting museums, reading, or eating donuts in the park with her three kids and their friends. 

Mary Holmström

Administrative & Operations Director

Mary is our Administrative & Operations Director, overseeing a myriad of projects and processes.  She is also a passionate life-transitions coach, speaker, podcaster, children’s book author, and organizational strategist, currently using those organizational and administrative gifts to serve in her role.   After working as a 20+ year dual-careerist as a SAG/AFTRA actor and a corporate C-Level Suite Support Strategist, she pivoted her life trajectory in 2021 to pursue Jesus’ calling to serve others through life-transition coaching. Mary currently lives in South Minneapolis, dedicated to using her skills and talents to serve the Lord where each adventure leads.

Jeff and Areli Biggers

Mercy Group Coordinators

Jeff Biggers is a native Oklahoman and Sooner alumni. Jeff worked
more than three decades in corporate executive leadership roles relocating
often with different assignments. Jeff met his wife Areli while working
in Mexico and they enjoy the blessing of children and grandchildren. Over
the years they have participated in many local Church ministries, on
mission trips and led a home church that became part of the Vineyard
Movement. Jeff is an ordained Vineyard Pastor and retired early to serve
Church ministry in 2012. Jeff loves his family, traveling with Areli,
working out, golf and reading.
Areli Biggers was born and raised in Mexico and managed Human
Resources at major manufacturing sites in before meeting her husband
Jeff. Areli has been focused on her family, home and support to local
Churches through the years and the many places they have lived.  Areli is
an ordained Vineyard Pastor and has served in Church ministry since
2012. Areli loves her family, coffee, traveling with Jeff, working out and
cooking. She has often participated in cooking competitions and is a Food
Network Chopped Champion.

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