The Ekklesia Staff Team



Brian was born and raised in the great state of Alaska. He went to school in Minnesota for a couple years before moving west to join the 12th man. Brian loves the Lord, loves his wife, loves his job, and really loves chipotle.  
Life is good. 

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Julie Burleson | Ministry Director

Julie serves as the female mentor support director for The Intensive and as the Ekklesia female community group director. She also helps to coordinate outreach events and is a member of the Ekklesia teaching team. Julie is from San Diego, and has a degree in Psychology from Point Loma Nazarene University. She loves distance running, baking, reading, Pinterest, and she makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. Her very-bearded husband Josh is her partner for all of life’s adventures.



Uriah Garay | Worship Director

Uriah has been working at Ekklesia since Fall 2015 as the Worship “Minstrel” aka Director of rock n’ roll aka Worship Director. He is newly married to his wifey Junella and now father to her two incredible little girls. He likes Sun-lit walks on the beach because he thinks the moon is over-rated. He has been in love with Jesus since we was a wee little lad and has been playing music since the age of 5, while leading worship for the past 10 years. Uriah lives by the motto “you can’t Fly if you don’t wing it”.


Garret Shelsta | Ekklesia Pastor

Garret has worked for Ekklesia for 3 plus years. He is originally from Colorado and is an Alumni of Azusa Pacific University. He loves the Denver Broncos, music, theology and pop culture. His wife Aubrey is too good for him and his kids, Selah (6), Noa (4), Jonah (2) and their baby boy on the way, are cuter than you were when you were a child.

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RACHEL SCHEFFER | Administrator

Rachel first came to Bellingham almost 8 years ago to attend school at Western. She’s the team’s task master and to make sure everyone is up-to-date to on all the things. She is also currently getting her Masters in Counseling and someday hopes to have her own private practice here in town. She and her handyman husband love spending time with family and friends. And they especially love being outdoors in the beautiful PNW.


Ekklesia Interns 2016-2017


Ali grew up just south of Bellingham and has been involved with Ekklesia throughout her college years here at Western, where she is currently a senior in the Human Services Program. Ali loves smiling, helping others, working in ministry and eating food. She also loves meeting new people and spending time with her friends.


Worship Intern

Tyler spent the first 11 months of his life learning to speak in complete sentences and then next 2 months learning to walk on his own. He has heard and can mostly not understand over 24 languages. Tyler is passionate about God’s people, music and gluten. He is seeking to learn more about what it means to love his neighbor through the gifted staff of Ekklesia by interning with the worship team this year.

Photos By Isaac Day

Ali S..jpg


Ali is a recent graduate of Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, where she studied political science and alternative educational pedagogies. She attended Ekklesia for four years before Garret convinced her to change the course of her life plans and become a ministry intern. She believes that the life and work of Jesus cannot be divorced from the work of justice. Catch her at your local coffee shop talking about womanist theology and why Stranger Things is the best ever. 


Jessica Papen
Ministry Intern

Jessica, “The Little Intern,” has been involved with Ekklesia for 4 years, and is now participating as a Ministry Intern with Ekklesia. She is in her 5th and final year at Western Washington University. Jessica loves puzzles, gardening, art, and has a semi-ridiculous knack for making quick, and poorly crafted Dad jokes.


Kirsten Thomas
Worship Intern

Kirsten started attending Ekklesia about four years ago. She started playing keys on the worship team about two years ago. Eventually she started to sing as well and the next thing she knew, she was a worship intern - zero to one hundred real quick. She loves learning how to be a worship director and is excited to discover the path God has set out for her. She’s also a student in the teaching program at Western Washington University.