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Holy Cross

Our Team

Pastor Krister Ulmanis

Interim Pastor

Pastor Krister was called to be our Interim Pastor in November 2015, traveling with us as we discern and prepare for calling our next pastor. Pastor Krister is a walking, talking multi-cultural kind of a person with a 1,000 stories (or so) to tell. Born and raised in Sweden to Latvian parents he lived in Canada from 1974 until his move to Michigan in 2013. Ordained 1991 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, he officially transferred to the Southeast Michigan Synod of the ELCA in 2015. Loves! Love! Loves! Detroit and the Metro Detroit area.

He always wanted to be a pastor. He loves liturgy and church history, but loves people more than anything else and most definitely loves to laugh. Before taking on the role of Interim he served five ELCIC congregations as full-time pastor along with once-a-month worshipping Latvian-speaking congregations, and preached in the Swedish Lutheran Congregation in Toronto from time to time. An accredited and fully trained Interim Pastor, he served congregations in Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe Woods, MI as interim before landing at Holy Cross.

He is a total sports nut - especially soccer, hockey, downhill skiing and curling. He has a particular passion for the Red Wings; stop by and check out the autographed Henrik Zetterberg Red Wing sweater hanging in his office. He is quick to share that he was at the last game in Olympia Arena and the first game at Joe Louis. Other hobbies include riding his motorcycle, reading, travel, history, opera, theatre, and music – ranging from classical to punk rock. Huge Eminem fan.

He has a son Niklas, born 1991, whom he raised as a single parent since 1996. He remarried on September 5, 2015 to Lela Baugh-Creighton. Lela is a visual arts teacher at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit and an Art Therapist at Sanctuary at Bellbrok Retirement Community. Pastor Krister and Lela reside in Grosse Pointe Park, MI.

Dr. Michael Burkhardt


Michael Burkhardt was called to be our first Cantor* in August 2013 after five years among us as an on-site resource teacher and leader. During that time, he founded the Hearts, Hands and Voices Fine Arts Program for children in Southeast Michigan and taught us all about the power of music and liturgy. Upon his installation in September 2013, Pastor Dana remarked, “Worship plays a central role in inspiring and equipping us in our life of discipleship, and music is integral to it. What is unique about his leadership is that he understands that the primary instrument in worship is the human voice. As accomplished as he is, the bottom line is, 'Did the people sing?' Rising above and beyond categories of 'traditional' or 'contemporary,' under his leadership worship at Holy Cross utilizes music of all times and places to bear the Word, and makes it accessible for the person in the pew to sing – because worship is not a spectator sport. Liturgy is literally ‘the work of the people.’ And our people work!” Michael is known around the world for his compositions (choral, organ, and instrumental), for his teaching (choral and organ), for his innovative and inspiring hymn festivals, and for his creative work with children. He is in frequent demand as a choral clinician, organ recitalist, and hymn festival leader.

In addition to his role as Holy Cross Cantor, he is Artist–Professor of Organ at Eastern Michigan University, the Artistic Director of Holy Cross’ Hearts, Hands and Voices Fine Arts Program for children, and the Artistic Director of the Detroit Handbell Ensemble.

Michael Burkhardt is a graduate of Carthage College, Kenosha, WI. He earned his M.M. from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, and his D.M.A. from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

*The term cantor is the historic designation for the vocation of the Lutheran Church musician who normally serves as organist, director of choirs and instrumental groups, and teaches, encourages, and nurtures the musical talent of the congregation. The cantor’s calling extends into the larger community in which the congregation is situated.


The Journey 2004-2014

Pastor Dana Runestad and Pastor Benjamin Morris

Over the past ten years, the Holy Spirit has been very busy in the community of Holy Cross. We have been blessed by pastoral leadership that has acted as a catalyst, feeding a transformation process that continues each day. For the last 16 months, we were inspired and equipped by a unique Spiritual Leadership Team of three amazingly talented people: Pastor Dana Runestad, Dr. Michael Burkhardt and Pastor Benjamin Morris.

Pastor Dana Runestad dedicated ten years to guiding us to destinations we didn’t know existed. She was with us from October 2004 through November 2014. With much sadness, we wished her Godspeed and farewell as she left to join husband, Dr. Barry Rabe, in a year-long fellowship in Washington D.C. Pastor Dana served us with joy and grace, never letting us forget that God is in the center of all we are and all we do. Her passion for preaching, liturgy and the power of communal worship informed who we are. Her enthusiasm for vision for the sake of the world stretched our horizons. Her vision for worship and music prompted her to encourage a close friend from her days at Carthage College, Dr. Michael Burkhardt, to settle in Southeast Michigan.

Pastor Benjamin Morris was an unexpected gift of the Holy Spirit in our midst. He was with us from August 2011 through December 2014. We were looking for a part-time youth director, and God sent us a full-time pastor specializing in Youth, Culture and Mission. Pastor Ben’s special gift for preaching, bible study and relationships sparked a yearning for us to share the God We Know with those who don’t. He inspired innovative ways of looking at mission, ministry and community…everything from our youth program 6.1.2, which features a shared meal, to our Annual Brew and Stew, pitting home beer brewers in competition as well as chili cookers. It is amazing what ministry can happen rock climbing at the local rec center. Pastor Ben will be sorely missed as we wish him well in his Call to Campus Ministry in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

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