David Thorwaldson - Interim Pastor/Elder

David Thorwaldson and his wife Michelle have been attending New Heart since 2009, shortly after moving his family from Chico to Eureka. He grew up in Humboldt County and was thrilled to return, with his wife and 7 kids in tow (Logan, Alexander, David, Isabella, Noah, Simon and Willow).  In their 20+ years of being followers of Christ, David and Michelle have been involved in many ministries, usually focusing on youth ministries that their children were involved in as well.  David has also had the privilege of filling in for Sunday sermons at New Heart from time to time, as a member of the New Heart Speakers Team.  Outside of church activities and work, you will find David either writing a song or jumping off of a rock into some beautiful North Coast swimming hole!  Connect with Dave [email protected]


Ethan "Red Eagle" Lawton, Community Pastor

Ethan is working on a Master's of Ministry Degree (specialization in Pastoral Counseling) from West Coast Bible College & Seminary in Waco, TX.  He served as the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Hoopa for several years and most recently the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church McKinleyville.  He has walked alongside the generous, loving congregation of FBCM as they moved to join New Heart in the spring of 2021. Connect with Ethan [email protected].


Kathleen Ely - Administrative Assistant

Kathleen works in the church office lending her administrative and organizational skills to support the people who run New Heart’s ministries.

In 1982 Kathleen graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Acting.  She also toured with Covenant Players from 1982 – 1986 where she met her husband Dan.  Over the years she has put those acting skills to use by performing in local community theater and at New Heart.

Kathleen and her family were part of the team who started New Heart in 1995.  Dan and Kathleen have two beautiful daughters and three grandsons; Sydney and her husband live in Boise, and Kelsey and her husband live in Arcata.  In her free time you might find her practicing music, reading, baking or playing with those three little energetic grandsons!    Connect with Kathleen [email protected] 


Kari Steen - Children's Director

Kari and her husband Nathaniel have been a part of the NewHeart family for 7 years. In 2009 Kari graduated from Sacramento State with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. Her primary focus has been as a mom to her and Nathaniel’s 3 children, Isaac (2011), Jeremiah (2013), and Alyson (2017) but she also works as a personal trainer at a local gym here in McKinleyville. Some of her interests include going to the beach, hikes with the kids, camping, and playing games. Kari worked in HS youth ministry for 4 years in Sacramento and has been an Adventureland volunteer for 5 years.  Connect with Kari [email protected]


Dan Ely - Elder

Dan Ely and his wife, Kathleen, have been part of the New Heart family from the beginning.  He has served at New Heart in many ways including Sunday AM Program Director, Worship Leader, Elder Team Member, Producer of NewHeart Early and has participated in a variety of special projects.  A Humboldt County native, Dan operates a small business in Eureka.


Nathaniel Steen - Elder

Nathaniel and his wife, Kari, are Humboldt transplants and have called this their home since December 2012.  Nathaniel graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a double major in Civil Engineering and Psychology.  The Steen’s found NewHeart in the Spring of 2013 and have enjoyed getting to fellowship with the NewHeart family.  He has served as Youth Ministry Staff, Greeting Team Coordinator, Community Group Leader/Host, Financial Peace University Coordinator, Director Team Member, and Elder Team Member.  Nathaniel and Kari have three kids, Isaac (2011), Jeremiah (2013), and Alyson (2017), all of whom keep Mom and Dad very busy!  Nathaniel works for Caltrans as a Resident Engineer and on his free time loves to camp, fish, BBQ with friends, woodworking, and metalworking.


David Holper - Elder

David Holper and his wife, Michele, have been part of the New Heart family for the last seven years.  He has served at New Heart in several ways including an earlier building committee, as well as on the Leadership Team for the last year.  Having lived in Humboldt County on and off for the last 20 plus years, David teaches English at College of the Redwoods and is the current Poet Laureate for the City of Eureka.


Leadership Team

The Leadership Team consists of current New Heart ministry staff, volunteer leaders and members of the congregation chosen by the lead pastor and affirmed by the other members of the Leadership Team. This team is intentionally diverse to allow room for the gifts God has given New Heart to be used most effectively (1 Corinthians 12) while maintaining unity of purpose.

The Leadership Team has two primary areas of responsibility: to help guide our congregation to become more like Jesus in their own lives, and to equip our congregation to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God in our community. This is accomplished by creating a strategic vision for the church, making decisions to implement the vision and providing spiritual and material care for our people.

Our current Leadership Team is comprised of:

Dan Ely, Kathleen Ely, David Holper, Nathaniel Steen, David Thorwaldson

Director Team

The Director Team is comprised of active members of New Heart who have business, finance or human resources experience.  The Director Team is entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing legal, financial, and human resource related matters, as well as providing for the care and maintenance of all properties owned or used by the church.

Our current Director Team is comprised of:

Mark Davis, Kathleen Ely, Jim Harper, Nathaniel Steen, Don Harling, Cheryl Gunderson Turner