The Rev. Matthew R. Johnson
Matthew Johnson came to Good Shepherd in March 2014. Matt completed his M.Div. degree at the General Theological Seminary (Episcopal) in Manhattan in 2008. He was then called as Associate Rector at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, VA, where his primary responsibilities were outreach and children, youth, and young adult ministries. Before coming to Good Shepherd, he served as an Associate Rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA. At St. Stephen’s he worked to strengthen offerings for families and children, youth, college students, and young adults. He also coordinated special liturgies for the nearly 4,000 member congregation and was heavily involved in pastoral care.
Matt is native to Virginia, growing up in Alexandria. For undergraduate studies Matt attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, earning a B.A. with a double concentration in English and Music. After graduating from William and Mary, Matt taught middle school English then upper school history at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, VA. While teaching he also coached Cross Country and Track. Matt remains an avid runner and has completed several marathons and one ultramarathon.
Matt is married to Katharina, a native of Germany whom he met when they were hospital chaplain interns at Duke University Medical Center. They have two daughters, Elli and Clara, and a yellow Labrador, Nopey.
Director of Christian Education
Katharina Johnson joined the team at Good Shepherd in September of 2015. She received a master degree in theology from the University of Erlangen (Germany) in 2008, and completed her Master of Divinity in 2011 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA. She also studied at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC. Katharina has extensive experience working with children and youth in various settings in and outside the church. She also taught a middle school Introduction into Biblical Scriptures at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, VA, for two years.
In her capacity as Director of Christian Education, Katharina is responsible for youth ministry, ministry for children and families, adult formation classes, and outreach opportunities. She believes that all children are spiritual beings who have an intimate relationship with God and that “grown-ups” are mainly called to listen to the children and to God.
Katharina is a native of Germany. She loves to cook “real food” and is determined to one day grow her own vegetables. Katharina enjoys being outside and digging in the dirt, reading a good book, and drinking coffee with a friend. She is the mother of two girls (Elli and Clara) and lives with her husband Matt and dog Nopey.
Organist and Choir Director
Lawrence Goering, a native of eastern North Carolina, began organ study while in high school in Kinston, NC. At East Carolina University, he studied organ with E. Robert Irwin, Mark Gansor, and Janette Fishell. After graduating from East Carolina University with a B.M. in organ performance and sacred music, he remained as a staff member in the music library for ten years. During this time, he took further organ lessons with Janette Fishell. He has played recitals at several churches in eastern NC and in Reykjavik, Iceland. Prior to coming to Good Shepherd in 1991, he served Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, and Disciples of Christ congregations in eastern NC. In addition to his ministry at Good Shepherd, he maintains a private studio of piano, organ and voice students. Recently, he served as a consultant for a new pipe organ project at another church. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists (past Dean of the East Carolina Chapter), the Rocky Mount Piano Teachers’ Association, and the Board of the Tar River Orchestra and Chorus. He regularly attends the annual East Carolina Religious Arts Festival and the Sewanee Church Music Conference. When not making, directing, or teaching music, Lawrence enjoys walking, hiking, cooking, reading, and art.
Tom Parker is a native of Rocky Mount and a graduate of NC Wesleyan College with a degree in music/organ performance. He joined the staff of Good Shepherd in 2011 with several years of prior church office administration and banking experience. Additionally, Tom has been a piano and organ teacher since 1986, and has served several churches in the Rocky Mount area as organist, pianist, and choir director. He currently serves as the Director of Music Ministries and organist at West Haven Presbyterian Church.
Virginia Turner has many years of office and bookkeeping experience. At Good Shepherd since 2008, Virginia is responsible for all bookkeeping functions including receiving and recording pledge contributions to the church, tuition payments to the Day School, making reports to the Vestry, overseeing payroll for the church and Day School, accounts payable and more.
Born on Long Island, New York, Lora Benz moved to North Carolina in 1996, where she attended Nash Community College. Lora possesses both Childhood Certificates I and II and is also a state-certified phlebotomist. Lora began her career as the caretaker/housekeeping engineer at the Church of the Good Shepherd in ??? Lora is married to Eric Benz; they have four sons (Daniel, Phillip, Matthew, and Jonny), and Lora is a proud grandma. Lora’s motto is, “Whatever you do in life, keep on striving for excellence and challenge yourself in all you do.”
Church Nursery Attendant
Mary Alston, a Nashville native, has lived in Rocky Mount since 1993. For many years, Mary has been providing loving nursery care for infants and children at Good Shepherd during worship services and other church events. She has been a member of the Good Shepherd Day School staff as lead teacher since 2002 and has worked with children for more than 20 years. Mary received an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Edgecombe Community College.
Mary is the mother of two (Desmond and Jaletta), and a grandmother of five. When she isn’t spending time with family and friends, Mary enjoys reading, shopping, singing and cooking.