Brandon Zieske

Senior Pastor

Brandon Zieske was voted in as our new senior pastor in the summer of 2017. Prior to this, he served as the Senior Pastor of Pleasant Valley Evangelical Free Church of Winona, MN for three years. Under Brandon’s leadership, that 122 year-old, multi-generational church transitioned from a congregation in decline to one that now attracts a 1,000 people, in a community of 30,000. Leadership development and an attraction for the lost are hallmarks of Brandon’s service to God. He has cultivated a staff that is collaborative with its members and multiplies capabilities and engages volunteers as leaders. His winsome way championed a multi-million dollar capital campaign that eliminated debt and expanded the church’s facility. He also expanded the attractiveness of his church, introducing an evening worship service and a traditional music venue.

Before becoming the Senior Pastor of his previous church, Brandon served as the College Pastor. He has been in ministry for more than 14 years. He received his Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Leadership Transformation in 2013 from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Winona State University. Brandon and his wife Carissa have three children: Cora (9), Brayden (6), and Adalyn (1). When time allows, Brandon loves riding motorcycles, golfing, working out or settling into a good book.

Brandon loves the legacy of Austin Oaks and the fact that it is a multi-generational and multi-ethnic church. The idea of taking on the challenge to help mobilize the church to take its next step in glorifying God energizes him. He desires to effectively reach and shape the next generation of believers and leaders, and finds Austin to be ripe for harvest.

 Karen Nicholson

Karen Nicholson

Executive director

Karen and her husband, Johnny, began attending here in 2002. Married for over 30 years, they are blessed with two adult children, their spouses and two precious grandsons. Karen enjoys her involvement with the Women’s Ministry at Austin Oaks Church and sharing laughter and life with her family and friends.

Contact Karen via email or call (512) 891-1631


Linda Sarrels

executive administrative assistant

Linda grew up in New Mexico and came to Texas in 1973 to attend Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.  She married Bob two years later and they have called Austin home since 1978.  They are blessed to have three adult children and five grandchildren, who all live close by with their families.  Linda worked at The University of Texas System for 27 years and retired in March 2015 to become part of the wonderful staff at Austin Oaks Church.  She loves being Mimi to her grandchildren and traveling with Bob on family road trips and to archery tournaments around Texas and across the country.

Contact Linda via email or call (512) 891-1642

 Rob Harrell

Rob Harrell

Pastor emeritus

Rob has been married to Kathy, his partner in ministry, for over 30 years and served as Senior Pastor here from 1990-2016. Rob served for seven years at Metropolitan Baptist in Oklahoma City and four years at Westlake Bible Church in Austin, Texas. Rob received a B.S. degree in Psychology/Sociology from the University of Utah, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He enjoys riding his mountain bike, playing golf with buddies, walking through his neighborhood, being a pastor to pastors and working with other church leaders to reach the Austin so the world might be transformed by the gospel of Jesus. Rob and Kathy have two grown children of their own and an “answer-to-prayer son-in-law”. Their son, Stephen, lives internationally building US Embassies. Their daughter, Kylie, and her husband, Chris, live in Washington DC, where he teaches “at risk” kindergarten students, and she is a lawyer with Gibson Dunn. 

Contact Rob via email.