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Meet the St. John's Staff

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Pastor Austin Newberry, 
Interim Pastor

Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Pastor Austin was raised Roman Catholic. After high school, he attended a small Catholic liberal arts college in Indiana which was a part of the educational ministry of a community of Benedictine monks called Saint Meinrad. After finishing college and a year of graduate theology study, he entered the monastery, made vows and was ordained a priest. His ten years of priestly ministry were spent primarily as an administrator and teacher at Saint Meinrad College. 

As a monk, Pastor Austin completed a Master of Divinity degree from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, a Master in Religious Studies at Indiana University and a Masters in Spirituality from the University of San Francisco. Feeling that God was calling him to something different, Pastor Austin left the monastery and the active priesthood in 1997.

Having returned to Florida, first to Pensacola and then to Tallahassee, he became a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 2001 he met his husband and they have been together ever since. Pastor Austin worked for The Florida Bar as a program administrator and the Florida Supreme Court in the Office of Court Improvement providing training for judges and court staff around the state on domestic violence issues and administering the Federal Violence Against Women Act grant providing funding for these training programs.

In 2009, Pastor Austin began the journey toward becoming a Lutheran pastor. In the midst of that process, he moved with his husband to Columbus, IN. Pastor Austin’s first call came from First Lutheran Church in Louisville, KY where he served for seven years. During that time he was also the founding chaplain of a joint Lutheran/Episcopal campus ministry program at the University of Louisville and served as Dean of the South-Central Conference of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod (ELCA).

In 2021 Pastor Austin was invited by the New Jersey Synod (ELCA) to become interim pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Bayonne, NJ. In 2022 he was invited by the Metropolitan New York Synod (ELCA) to come to St. John’s as interim pastor where he is now serving.

Dr. Janet Sora Chung, 
Music Director & Organist

Janet is Music Director and Organist at St. John's and also the Cantor-Organist of the New York Finnish Lutheran Congregation and for other houses of worship around the city. 

Janet earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music, garnering the Bronson Ragan Award for outstanding ability in organ performance.

In 2022 Janet co-founded the Christopher Street Collegium, which provides baroque cantatas and other music for special services at St. John's.

Janet's interpretations of Messiaen and Bach have met with acclaim. She has performed at St. Mary the Virgin, St. Ignatius of Loyola Church, SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center, the University of Scranton, Winspear Centre and Riverside Church.

She loves to arrange pieces for solo organ and for organ and saxophone duo. To expand this repertoire, she and Jay Rattman (saxophone) have commissioned or premiered works by Walter Hilse, Rachel Laurin, James Chirillo and transcribed pieces by Debussy and others. She recently premiered her arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations for St. John’s Lutheran Church’s 200 Years: A Sacred Space Celebration.

 Sister Melinda, 
Council President

Alongside her work as a pediatric nurse practitioner, and since her recent retirement, Sister Melinda has been a long-time stalwart at St. John's, serving in manifold capacities to provide for the spiritual and practical needs of the parish.

Parish Administrator

Angel Salgado

Angel has been overseeing and tending to the maintenance of St. John's since 2013.

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