Our Team


The Riverwood Team

The Riverwood Team leads our volunteer teams who create the environment where every person in attendance at our Sunday Worship Gatherings is invited to connect with Jesus and one another.

Erin Bird

Vision & Teaching

Spouse: LeAnn

Hometown: Shenandoah, IA

Favorite Drink: Honey-laced English Breakfast Tea spiked with cayenne pepper & cinnamon

Children: 4 (Two adult daughters and two teenage sons)

Favorite Hobby: long distance swimming for exercise

A favorite "passion": Movies (especially Christopher Nolan films)

One fun thing many people might not know about me: I once finished in second place in the Gladstone, MO "Big Splash" competition. I can do a mean can-opener!

Jake Epley

Worship Gatherings

Spouse: Grace

Workplace: Riverwood and Federal Express

Favorite Food: Chicago deep-dish pizza

Favorite Passion: Getting to write new songs with good friends

Hometown: Waverly

Favorite Hobby: Playing board games and video games with friends

Favorite Musician: John Mark McMillan

One fun thing many people might not know about me: I’m left-handed, but only when it comes to writing. Additional fun fact? I type ambidextrously.

Bridget Pavelec

Kids Creek

Spouse: Ed

Hometown: Waterloo, IA

Favorite Hobby: Drinking coffee and reading

Favorite MovieFerris Bueller's Day Off

Children: 5 (4 boys, 1 girl)

Workplace: My home  🙂

Favorite Food: chocolate chip cookies

A favorite "passion": My family - and rearranging my living room!

One fun thing many people might not know about me: I have snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, been white water rafting and rode in a hot air balloon.

Minette Ericson

Administrative Assistant

Spouse: Dan

Children: 4 (three girls, one boy)

Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea

Hometown: Strawberry Point, IA

Favorite Hobby: Reading juvenile fiction books and drinking hot water

Favorite Food: Sampling all the things

One fun thing many people might not know about me: I like to build things: basic tables, shelves, even IKEA furniture

Olivia Perin

Cafe Director

Spouse: Jon

Children: 2 girls

Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida

Favorite Food or Drink: pizza, Cool Ranch Doritos, and sweet tea

Favorite Hobby: cooking, running, crafts, novice gardening, spending time with family

Favorite Movie or Musician (or genre): psychological thrillers or sci-fi

A favorite "passion": listening to people’s stories and digging into the Bible with my kids

Fun things many people might not know about me: I love grammar. If I wasn’t a social worker, I would be a chef. As a kid, I always wanted to work for the Peace Corps.

The Elder Team

Our Elder Team loves & cares for our church family by helping us follow Jesus. They regularly pray for the Riverwood family, teach us from the Scriptures, and guide us into the future we believe God holds for us. And they'd love to welcome you into the Riverwood family as well!

Erin Bird

Vision & Teaching

You can read about Erin above, but here are a few more "favorites"

Another Hobby: Graphic Design

Favorite Food: Ice cream or dark chocolate

A favorite "passion": Sports, specifically Kansas City Royals baseball, Nebraska Cornhusker football, & Wartburg wrestling

Another fun thing many people might not know about me: I once ate an ant head that had been soaked in spicy pepper juice.

Ed Pavelec


Spouse: Bridget

Children: Same as Bridget 🙂

Hometown: New Hartford, IA

Workplace: Iowa National Guard, Recruiting & Retention Battalion, University of Northern Iowa, DEPT of Military Science

Hobby: Wood… chopping, sawing, shaping, cutting, working, etc. (oh, and computers)

Favorite Food: Thai Curry Wings!!

Favorite Movie: The Fifth Element or Stardust.. both so good

Favorite Musician: Tenth Avenue North

Favorite Passion: Apologetics as it pertains to Philosophy, and creation science

One fun thing many people might not know about me: I worked for 4 years on Iowa’s 71st Civil Support Team and worked alongside the FBI, DHS, FEMA, and DOE.

Matt Townsley


Hometown: Muscatine, IA

Workplace: Educational leadership faculty at the University of Northern Iowa

Favorite Hobby: Running

Favorite Food: Chicken parmesan or anything chocolate/peanut butter combined

A favorite "passion": Standards-based grading (Editor's Note: He's so passionate about this, he even wrote a book on it!)

Another Favorite: I do not watch too many movies, but The Truman Show is one that sticks with me.

One fun thing many people might not know about me: My wife, Cassy, and I once ran across the Golden Gate Bridge (and back) at sunrise

Our Missionaries

Our missionary partners have been carefully selected because we believe deeply in what they are doing to further the gospel and help others love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived. Riverwood believes in supporting local, regional, and "to the ends of the earth" missions.

Patrick Ray

Church Planter in Northern Minneapolis, MN

Mission: Lead our church in proclaiming the gospel and promoting reconciliation among the families of Northside (in northern Minneapolis)

Spouse: Shelby

Kid(s): Adelyn

Hometown: Springville, Iowa

Favorite Hobby: I love basketball and have found it's a bridge-builder for many people in the neighborhood

Favorite Food: a good steak

Favorite Verse in Scripture: Ephesians 1:10 - God is reconciling all things and we want to be part of that!

One way North and Iowa are similar: Although it's part of Minneapolis, North has a small-town feel that's not too different than Waverly and the surrounding towns

Josh and Hillary Smith

Joyfully serving Christ among the poor and lost in Cambodia

Mission: We are in Cambodia to share the Gospel, disciple people, and care for the poor

Hometown: Largo, Florida

Favorite Food: Papaya Salad

Favorite Book/Movie: Lord of the Rings

Favorite Verse in Scripture: John 3:16

One way Cambodia and Iowa/U.S. are similar: People love eating bacon!

One fun thing many people might not know about us: We are fellow Moody Bible Institute graduates with Jake (Riverwood's Worship Leader) & Grace Epley

Azlyn McCarthy

Equipping disciple-makers among the Deaf population in Togo

Mission: I am following the Lord's call on my life to make disciples among the nations and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Working under the umbrella of a church planting team, my main focus is equipping disciple-makers among the Deaf population so that the Deaf may meet, know, and follow Jesus.

Hometown: Ankeny, IA

Favorite Food: Pizza

Favorite Book: Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hunard

Favorite Verse in Scripture: Proverbs 31:8-9

One way Togo and Iowa are similar: During certain seasons, there are cornfields all over!

One fun thing many people might not know about me:  I have a German Shepherd named Caspian that I brought with me from the States! He’s the best guard dog.

To meet some of our other fantastic leaders and people, visit us on a Sunday mornings at 9:30 am

Join Us Sundays Starting at 9:30am CST
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