Devotion, Friendship, and Laughter: Celebrating the Three Amigas

Diane Armstrong, Luann Pheneger, and Nancy Goodmanson are often called the three musketeers or the three amigas. After this fall, North Heights staff will take a serious hit when all three of them will be officially retired.

As many can attest, their stories and legacy are of devotion, friendship, and laughter.

The three ladies gathered together in late May to reminisce about their time on staff. They all had a similar timeline of discovering and working at North Heights; all three of them started attending in the ‘80s and became paid staff sometime in the ‘90s. Dates and details were fuzzy for them, and because their lives are so intertwined, they often corrected each other, sometimes knowing the others’ history better than their own.

Nancy and Diane have known each other the longest; as flight attendants, they met in Detroit, Michigan in 1978.

“Thanks to Nancy and Tim Goodmanson, I found North Heights,” Diane expressed. Nancy persuaded Diane to attend North Heights with her, often picking her up in downtown St. Paul so that they could carpool. Diane’s journey to North Heights could be another whole story, but after getting invested in volunteering and programing, she eventually landed in the position of executive assistant to the director of internal ministries, which she did for years. She later secured the role of executive assistant to TJ and Bob, which she’s retiring from. 

Luann and Nancy had similar paths at North Heights, so much so that people often got them confused. Both helped with the All-Saints party and then co-directed children’s ministry for years. At some point, Luann needed full-time work, so she transitioned to the business office of North Heights, breaking up the dynamic duo of “Luancy.” Nancy did a stint at the bookstore and a few other positions before she found her sweet spot as the events/wedding coordinator.

When asked about the best part of being on staff for so many years, the answer among the three of them was unanimous: the people.

Nancy spoke about how important community was, especially when the Goodmansons adopted their daughter, Catie: “We were such a family. I don’t know what I would have done without my church family.”

Diane emphasized how much she learned among her community, especially the women’s ministries. “I grew so much – just leaps and bounds.”

Luann shared about the camaraderie on staff and how important those friendships were, even through negative experiences. When the women were discussing the time period when staff were laid off, Luann didn’t hesitate to clarify the date. “July 15. I will never forget it because I had to do all the paperwork to lay off all my friends,” Luann lamented.

But then brighter days came. Nancy shared that one of her favorite memories was one of the first days staff was reunited after the layoffs. She explained that after a lunch, staff got in a circle to hold hands and pray. Then they sang the words “bind us together.”

“It felt like we had gotten through something together and were starting off fresh,” Nancy said.

The memories Luann, Nancy, and Diane have from being on staff are endless, but they shared a few more gems.

They loved planning volunteer events and All-Saints parties. Children’s ministries had a plethora of funny moments, but Luann and Nancy reflected on one specific instance where a donkey pooped in the Sunday School Palm Sunday service.

Nancy also told a story about how during a kids’ Christmas program, in front of a live audience, the girl playing Mary flung baby Jesus out of the manger, crying, “That’s not Jesus!”

Transitioning out of a place that holds so many dear memories for all three of them won’t be easy. All three will remain as members and volunteers, but even so, retirement brings nuance: excitement for their next chapters but also sadness about leaving positions where they invested their everything. They want to see their church flourish and for staff and congregation to embrace North Heights like they did. 

“We want to see people pour into North Heights the way we poured into it,” Luann said.  

“We want to know they’re invested like we were,” Nancy agreed.

“I don’t feel like I’m personally indispensable, but I really care about this position being filled well,” Diane said.

Who will be next to grab the baton from these three amazing ladies? What will be the next chapter for North Heights without these women on staff? These answers may need to be fleshed out, but the confident ground we can stand on is that North Heights will continue to be a Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, Christ-centered church full of people devoted to the mission.

Diane and Nancy’s official retirement will be at the beginning of July. Luann will be officially retired in October. Thank you to Luann, Diane, and Nancy for all your devotion and service to North Heights so far!

If you are interested in joining the North Heights staff, check out open positions here!

Posted by Hannah Varberg

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Arden Hills Campus

1700 West Highway 96, Arden Hills
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