Sr. Pastor

Rev. Dr. Mark E. Yurs

The Rev. Dr. Mark E. Yurs is the longest-serving pastor in our church's history. He has been with Salem since 1991.

Rev Dr Mark E Yurs.jpg

Mark Yurs

Senior Pastor

The Rev. Dr. Mark E. Yurs is the longest-serving pastor in our church's history. He has been with Salem since 1991. 

Mark views himself as a teaching minister. He tries to develop sermons that use the Bible to shed light on life today. Mark is an attentive and sensitive pastor as well as an effective teacher. He understands what an old-time preacher meant when he said, "In every pew there is at least one broken heart." Mark strives to be caring toward that broken heart, and open to and accepting of all who look to Christ for hope, help, and courage. The above tells of Mark's serious side, but you really understand him only when you know his light-heartedness and his delight in finding humor wherever it can be found. One of our pastor's favorite texts is the one in which Jesus says, "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11). 

Mark regularly teaches preaching in the Lay Academy of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ and has taught preaching and worship on the seminary level. In addition, he has written extensively in the fields of preaching and ministry. He is the author of three books (see below), numerous articles, and is a contributing author to a number of other books, including Feasting on the Word and Feasting on the Gospels, commentary series published by Westminster John Knox Press. His writings have also appeared in the well-known devotional publication These Days. 

He holds the Bachelor of Arts degree from Carroll College (now Carroll University), Waukesha, WI, and both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA. He was ordained in 1982 and served St. John's United Church of Christ, Belvidere, IL, for nine years prior to coming to Verona. In 2001, Dubuque Seminary awarded him its distinguished alumni award, the Herbert E. Manning Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry. 

Mark is married to Sherrol, and they have three grown children and two grandchildren. 

Books by Mark E. Yurs:

  • Answers to Real Problems:

    • Harry Emerson Fosdick Speaks to Our Time

    • (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2008)

    • Available on

  • Being A First Church:

    • What a Pastor's First Congregation Should Know

    • (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2003)

    • Available on


Dawn Lingard

Director of Music

Dawn Lingard has been a musician nearly all of her life, sharing her musical gifts in her Salem Sunday School class at around age 10, then becoming one of the 2 organists while in High School.  After focusing on her music studies at Oral Roberts University with Joyce Bridgman in Tulsa, OK, she then moved to Kansas City, MO.  There she found a church home that embraced her eclectic musical background & helped enhance her worship style.  Since coming back home to Salem in 2005, Dawn took over the Organist responsibilities.  Here, she was able to introduce her varied background in piano performance & accompaniment.  She loves working with musicians of all ages & abilities, helping them embrace their talent & share it with others.

Currently, Dawn is our Music Director where she continues her Organist responsibilities while also moderating the Music in Worship Committee.  In addition, she served on the Wisconsin Conference UCC Annual Worship Committee for 8 years.  Here she led that group in planning & performing for the Annual Conference worship services. 

She thoroughly enjoys sharing her gifts of music not just with Salem but with her community at large.  She has been the Lands’ End Christmas Choir accompanist for 25 years & helps out with local school concerts, Solo & Ensemble events, and musicals … to name just a few. 


Sarah Pundt

Director of Christian Education

Sarah has been Salem’s Director of Christian Education since October 2016.  She oversees our Christian Education program for all ages including our nursery childcare center, Sunday school, Safe Church Program, Vacation Bible School, evening Adult programs, intergenerational activities, and special seasonal activities. She enjoys providing opportunities for every member of the Salem community to explore and deepen their faith, serve as teachers and mentors to others, and grow in fellowship with each other in the process.  Everyone is at a different place in their faith journey and at Salem, we offer a loving and supportive environment to ask questions and challenge ourselves to live active and fulfilling lives as Christians.

Sara and her husband are natives of Rochester, NY and moved to Verona in 2003 with their two children.  She have been a lifelong church member- in the Presbyterian (PCUSA), Congregational, and UCC traditions.  The Pundts became members of Salem shortly after moving to Verona.  Sarah earned a B.A. in Music with a minor in Psychology from Hamilton College (Clinton, NY) and is currently enrolled in the Lay Academy through the UCC WI Conference.  Her volunteer roles at Salem include serving on Youth Ministry Team and the Pastoral Relations committees. When she is not at church, she enjoys spending time with her family, participating in outdoor recreation activities, and scrapbooking.  

She looks forward to engaging as many of you as possible in our educational programs and welcome all questions and ideas. Please contact her at or 608-692-3239.