Steve Nicholson, Senior Pastor

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Steve Nicholson began ministering as a college student through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the early 1970s. After graduation, he moved to the Chicago area where he and several other twenty-something leaders founded a church. That fellowship, begun in 1976 in Evanston, Illinois, placed a high priority on contemporary worship, biblical teaching, openness to the Holy Spirit, and committed relationships as a church family. In 1981, Steve and a team from the fellowship established a new church in Humboldt Park, a neighborhood in Chicago’s inner city. Both churches joined the Vineyard USA in August of 1985, and Steve transferred leadership of the Humboldt Park Vineyard to one of his team members in 1986. The Evanston Vineyard has since planted nine other congregations in the Chicago area, and another fifteen in other cities or countries. Steve led the Vineyard USA’s church planting task force for over twenty years. Steve has ministered to and trained church leaders in India, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil, Chile and several Central Asian countries as well as in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Steve and his wife, Cindy, live in Chicago. They have three adult children.

Areas overseen:  Oversee pastors, primary teaching pastor, primary leader for vision and development

Bill Hanawalt, Executive Pastor

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Bill, a second-generation church planter, was part of the original team that started the church in 1976. Bill received his Bachelor’s degree from Yale University and completed his seminary training at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (now Trinity International University) in Deerfield, Illinois. Bill was a contributor to the application notes in the Life Application Bible (Tyndale). Bill serves as one of the teaching pastors of the Evanston Vineyard and coordinates the church’s overseas missions work in East Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. As Executive Pastor, Bill also oversees all the administrative, financial and facility functions of the church. Bill and his wife, Cheryll, oversee the Evanston Vineyard’s marriage ministries as well as the Vineyard Leadership Institute (VLI). Bill is a regular conference speaker and pastoral and missionary coach in the U.S. as well as in Africa and Latin America. He has been married to Cheryll for 40 years and they have raised three sons and have one grandchild.

Areas overseen: Teaching, Church Council, Global Connections, financial and building operations, Vineyard Institute

Cindy Nicholson, Assistant Pastor

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Cindy Nicholson is a Connecticut Yankee who has found herself for more than three decades living by the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Having married her husband Steve three years into the planting of what is now Vineyard Christian Church of Evanston, she has lived all her married life intimately involved with church planting and church life. Cindy is a teaching pastor at Evanston Vineyard and oversees the prayer teams and intercession ministries. Until 2011 she served on the national board of the Vineyard USA, most recently co-leading a task force on women and pastoral ministry. Cindy and Steve have three children, all now married with children of their own.

Areas overseen: Sunday Morning Prayer Team, Intercessory Prayer


Cheryll Hanawalt,
Healing & Growth Pastor

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Cheryll Hanawalt was part of the church planting team for the Evanston Vineyard. She currently serves as a teaching pastor, works with women's ministries, and Evanston’'s long term cross cultural workers. Cheryll is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor providing counseling services for over 30 years. She has coached and trained both professional counselors and church leaders. Cheryll and Bill her husband of 40 years, enjoy three sons, two daughters-in-law and a granddaughter.

Areas overseen: Women's ministry, healing ministry

Brian Van Der Werff, Worship Pastor

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Brian has been part of the Vineyard movement since 1990, did his pastoral internship at Lakeshore Vineyard in Holland, Michigan, and has been on the pastoral staff of Evanston Vineyard since 2000. The son of a Reformed Church pastor, Brian grew up in both Southern California and Western Michigan. After spending years rebelling against God through the spiritual darkness of the drug culture, he began seriously following Jesus during his undergraduate years at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan. Shortly thereafter he felt a strong call to ministry in the local church. He has been leading worship in a wide variety of contexts since 1991. Brian has a deep passion to see people come to intimately know and experience God and the power of His Kingdom in the context of authentic Christian community. He earned an M.A. in Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield, Illinois, and a Master of Divinity degree from North Park Theological Seminary (Chicago). He has a particular interest in studying worship theology and tradition throughout the history of the broader Church and discovering the practical implications for worship in 21st century churches.. Brian has been happily married to his wonderful wife Melody since 2005, and they have two sons, (Jackson, 3yrs, and Aiden, 6 mos). In his free time he loves to read, play guitar, surf, ride motorcycles, and travel.

Areas overseen: Worship, Gospel Choir, media, lighting, Vineyard Institute

Dave Sandell, Communication
and Administrative Pastor

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Dave joined our pastoral staff in 2008 and works largely behind the scenes to create the Sunday morning, web and creative experiences of the Evanston Vineyard. He has a BA in Communication and over ten years of design experience. He spent five years directing leadership and character development curriculum for a national higher education society. Dave started following Jesus near the end of college. He and his wife, Verity, married in 2006 and are parents to three kids, all literal miracles. Dave served on the leadership team of STORY, an annual gathering of creatives in downtown Chicago. He is putting in the work to become the best father, husband, writer and creative he can be. 

Areas overseen: Communication and design, Sunday Welcome Team volunteers, facilities management, creative services, video direction

Liz Hawes Ng, Community Life Pastor

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Liz spends her time welcoming new people into the church and helping everybody to feel at home. Liz oversees our newcomer welcome, core classes, and small groups. Liz joined our staff in 2009 and brings over 10 years of experience in pastoring small groups and leaders.

Liz first started following Jesus through a volunteer trip to a Native American reservation when she was 17. While she was in college at the U of I in Champaign, Liz joined the Vineyard church there and began leading and overseeing small groups. After she graduated, Liz taught at a treatment center for youth and completed a pastoral internship at the Vineyard. In 2004, Liz moved to Minneapolis with some friends to plant Mercy Vineyard. At Mercy, Liz worked with small groups, taught classes, and led the youth ministry. Liz also served as a founding teacher and board member of the Minneapolis Academy, a charter school for diverse students in the city. Liz earned her M.Div. at Bethel Seminary in 2009. Liz continues to lead volunteer trips to the reservation, and she is a founding member of the non-profit Hope for the First Nations. Liz loves spending time with people, walking to the Rogers Park beach, and finding new restaurants in the city.

Areas overseen: Small Groups, newcomer welcome, college-aged ministry

Renée Cunningham, Neighborhood Campus Pastor

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Renée pastors our Neighborhood Campus, the second location of the Evanston Vineyard. Renée is a teaching pastor at the Neighborhood Campus and oversees the campus leadership team. Renée is passionate about folding newcomers into community and worshipping alongside her neighbors. As a former first grade teacher and education advocate, Renée is interested in the relationship between teaching and spiritual formation in Christian communities. Renée’s relationship with Jesus began here at the Evanston Vineyard where she spent most of her formational years. After serving as pastors at La Viña Las Condes in Santiago Chile, Renée, a Chicago native, and her husband Bruce, returned to Chicago in 2011. Renée graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2014 with an M.A. in Christian Spiritual Formation and joined the Evanston Vineyard pastoral team in 2015. Bruce and Renée have two young children and spend most of their free time… catching their breath!

Iris Andersson,
Children's Ministry Pastor

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Iris joined our pastoral staff in 2012 as our Children’s Pastor. Her love and passion for children has led to more than 20 years of experience with children and their families, spending most of her adult life volunteering for children’s programs at local schools and with various community programs, as well as within her church. She served as the Director of Children’s Ministry at her previous church. Her dream is that every child who walks through our door would know that they are special, a creation of God, loved and valued by His people. Iris and her husband, Gus, are parents to two sons, aunt and uncle to 24 nieces and nephews and love celebrating life with their family.

Areas overseen: Nursery, Pre-school, Kids Church, Family Events, Vacation Bible School, Small Groups 4 Kids, Child Dedications, Backpack Giveaway

Stephanie Regester,
Middle School Pastor

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Stephanie Fosnight Regester became passionate about Jesus at age 10 so knows firsthand that the middle school years can be the perfect time for young people to grow spiritually mature and dedicate their lives to the adventure of living for God. Stephanie began serving with kids and youth at age 14 and never stopped, even as she pursued her first calling as a journalist. After earning bachelor's degrees in English literature and philosophy at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN in 2001, she spent a year teaching Spanish and English at an Arizona private school. She first came to the Evanston Vineyard in 2002 when she started the master's program at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. After graduation in 2003 she worked as a feature writer for the Sun-Times company while serving at VCCE in children's ministry, young adults and urban outreach. In 2007 Stephanie moved to Trent Vineyard in Nottingham, England to do a yearlong discipleship program, and she ended up staying for five after God called her into ministry. During her England years, Stephanie's main focus at the church (Europe's largest Vineyard) was as a member of the Vineyard Kids staff team, with a special focus on developing pre-teen ministry, as she herself underwent on-the-job training in large-church pastoral ministry. Stephanie met her husband, Nottingham native Andrew, at Trent Vineyard, where he was the kids' worship pastor, and they married in 2010. In 2012 Stephanie returned to Evanston, this time with Andrew, to take up the new role of Middle School pastor. Andrew and Stephanie love using their combined gift mix to help young people know the joy of following Jesus.

Areas overseen: Limitless Middle School Ministry (5th–8th Grade)

Chris Herning, Senior High Pastor

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Chris oversees the high school and rock show ministries at the Vineyard. He has been on staff since 1994. He and his wife, Brooks have been doing youth ministry together since 1990. They live in Chicago with their three daughters. Chris’ heart is to help kids realize what an awesome thing a relationship with God is, and to help empower them to share this life changing relationship with their friends.

Areas overseen: VisionQuest (VQ) High School Ministry, college- aged ministry, Rock Shows

Sunday Services & Locations

• 9:30am and 11:30am at 2495 Howard Street in Evanston
(Howard & Kedzie, behind the Jewel)
• 10:30am at 2701 W. Foster Avenue in Chicago
• 11:30am La Viña service (español) in Evanston

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