Convention Chaplains, Essayists, Preachers and Assistants
Learn more about the 65th regular convention's chaplains, essayists, preachers and assistants.
Rev. William C. Weedon
The Rev. William C. Weedon serves as The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod International Center (IC) director of Worship and as the IC chaplain.
As director of Worship, Weedon is responsible for proposing and creating programs that carry out the purposes and aims of the Synod in matters of worship. As IC chaplain, he works with the Office of the President in planning and supervising all chapel services at the IC (for both the 1333 and 10733 campuses) as well as offering informal chaplaincy and counseling services to employees as requested.
Weedon brings more than 25 years of ministry to this position. Most recently, he served as pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, Ill.
He is an author, contributor and reviser for Concordia Publishing House. Weedon writes articles for church journals and magazines, serves as a member of the working group of the Lord’s Supper Liturgy in preparation for Lutheran Service Book and serves as a circuit counselor.
Weedon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College—New York, Bronxville, and Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
Weedon and his wife, Cynthia, reside in Hamel, Ill. They have three grown children.
President and Bishop Rev. Amos Bolay
Bolay is president and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL). He serves as the chief ecclesiastical leader, representative and spokesperson for the ELCL both at home and abroad.
He represents LCMS service organizations in Liberia—the Children’s Christian Concern Society, Orphan Grain Train and LCMS Disaster Response to Liberia—and is a board member of Lutheran Hour Ministries in Liberia. Prior to becoming a pastor, Bolay served as instructor of the Ministry of Youths and Sports of Liberia, County Commissioner of the Boy Scouts of Liberia and County Coordinator of the Liberian National Red Cross Society.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Theology from Liberia Assemblies of God Bible College and a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. Bolay is presently pursuing a doctorate of ministry in pastoral leadership.
He and his wife, Rose, have been blessed with four children—Ndende, Rebecca, Jallah and Lucia—and four grandchildren.
Rev. William M. Cwirla
Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, Calif. He has served the Synod and the greater church as a circuit counselor, a member of the Liturgy Committee for the Lutheran Service Book, adjunct professor at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., and president and director of Higher Things, a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS specializing in youth ministry. Cwirla is a frequent conference speaker and regular contributor to Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran and for Concordia Publishing House. He also co-hosts a popular internet podcast The God Whisperers (godwhisperers.com), which combines humor and social commentary with Christian apologetics and doctrine.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Chicago and a Master of Science in chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley. Cwirla is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., holding a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Theology.
Cwirla and his wife, Karen, reside in Hacienda Heights, Calif.
Rev. Ted Krey
Krey serves in the Dominican Republic where he works with future pastors, deacons and deaconesses. He also serves alongside missionary Rev. Walter Ries of Brazil to establish a theological education program to train more Lutherans to serve in the church. Krey and Ries are working to establish some of the first LCMS congregations in the area. Prior to moving to the Dominican Republic, Krey served in Venezuela for eight years. He is a 2001 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Krey and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Dominican Republic with their two children.
Rev. Dr. Steven P. Mueller
Mueller is a professor of Theology and dean of Christ College at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. He is an instructor in the CUENet colloquy program and serves as an assisting pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Irvine. Mueller is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and of The Society for Biblical Literature. He has published extensively, writing on C.S. Lewis, Christian doctrine, Bible study curricula and a variety of other topics.
Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts from Concordia University, Irvine. He has a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Systematic Theology from the University of Durham in England.
Mueller and his wife, Nina, live in Lake Forest, Calif., with their three sons.
Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck
The Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck is a native of Green Bay, Wisc. He graduated from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minn., in 1983 with a music major in organ performance and choral conducting. In 1987, Baneck graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
His first call was to St. John’s Lutheran Church, Kimball, Minn. (1987–1993). Baneck’s second call was to Messiah Lutheran Church, Mandan, North Dakota (1993–2009).
He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2001 from Concordia Theological Seminary, and his dissertation was Sacramental Preaching.
Baneck is currently serving his second term as district president of the LCMS North Dakota District. He is also serving on the Concordia Theological Seminary Board of Regents.
Baneck is married to Myrna (Hall), who is a Lutheran school teacher. The Banecks preside in Mandan, North Dakota, and have been blessed with four children and two granddaughters.
Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen
The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen joined the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, in 1996 and now serves there as professor of Exegetical Theology and academic dean. Following his graduation from CTS (1984), he studied New Testament and Early Judaism at Princeton Theological Seminary where he received his Th.M. (1985). He was ordained as a pastor in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1985. He served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Traverse City, Mich., from 1985–1996, and received his Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan (1995).
He also serves as the associate editor of the Concordia Theological Quarterly and the archaeological dig coordinator for seminary expeditions. He has been one of the seminary faculty representatives on the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations since 2007. He also serves on the American Editorial Board of the journal HENOCH: Studies in Judaism and Christianity from Second Temple to Late Antiquity. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the International Enoch Seminar.
He and his wife, Kristi, have been blessed with two children, Stephan and Lauren.
Rev. Dr. Lee Hagan
The Rev. Dr. Lee Hagan currently serves as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Mo., and as first vice-president of the Missouri District. He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska. He continued his studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1996 and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2011.
He previously served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Evansville, Ind., from 1996–2002. Most recently, he served as the interim director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission in 2011–2012. He has held served in a number of capacities at the district level including as fourth vice-president, chairman of the Board for Congregational Services, a member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri District and as a member of the Indiana District Youth Board and Youth Gathering Planning team. A frequent workshop presenter, he has spoken on issues such as rural and small town ministry, pastors and elders and a host of other topics.
He is married to Jill, who works as a speech and language pathologist. They have two children, Caroline and Jack.
Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mekonnen Mendedo
The Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mekennen Mendedo became the seventh president of Concordia College, Selma, Ala., on Jan. 1, 2010. He previously served as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Mobile, Ala., and as an adjunct professor of Philosophy at the University of South Alabama and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala.
Dr. Mendedo has served in the church as an evangelist, youth leader, church elder, Bible School teacher, project director, curriculum advisor for the theological centers in Ethiopia and school administrator of the Theological Training Center of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus-Central Ethiopia Synod (EECMY) in Addis Ababa. He also served as coordinator of the Mobile Bible Schools of the Mekane Yesus Church. Through his leadership, several churches have been established and confessional books such as Church and Ministry (C.F.W. Walther), Law and Gospel (C.F.W. Walther) and This is My Body (Hermann Sasse) have been translated into Ethiopian vernacular languages.
Dr. Mendedo is a member of the Southern District Mission Committee, a board member of African Radio Ministry (ARM), president of the Master Builder Center and coordinator of the Lutheran translation works in Ethiopia. He has academic memberships in American Missiology Society, Evangelical Missionlogical Society, Lutheran Society of Missiology and other Academic Societies in the United States.
Dr. Mendedo has a diploma of Theology. He earned his B.A. degree in counseling and a Masters degree in Systematic Theology. He earned a Ph.D. in Missiology from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
He is a native of the Arssi region in Ethiopia and is married to Aberash Aklilu. They have three children: Hawii, Yeabsira and Amen.
Rev. Leopoldo Sánchez
The Rev. Leopoldo Sánchez was born in Concepcion, Chile, and raised in Panama City, Republic of Panama. He received his Ph.D. from Concordia Seminary (CSL), St. Louis, in 2003 and now serves there as associate professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) in the Werner R.H. and Elizabeth Ringger Krause Chair for Hispanic Ministries. As CHS Director, he oversees, leads and partners with CSL faculty and a team of Spanish-speaking staff, instructors and regional coordinators from across the U.S. in the development and implementation of Spanish-language lay theological education, pastoral and deaconess formation and graduate programs, as well as research and continuing education initiatives for Hispanic/Latino constituencies.
Sánchez teaches theology regularly in the U.S. and abroad and has delivered courses and workshops in Cuba, India, Ghana, Chile, Panama, Argentina and Venezuela. He recently completed his second book in Spanish, Teología de la santificación, on the topic of sanctification or Christian life. His areas of interest, research and writing are pneumatology (the Holy Spirit), sanctification, Spirit Christology, Trinitarian theology and issues related to U.S. Hispanic/Latino theology and missions, such as marginality, poverty, immigration and the intersection of theology and culture.
He also serves on various committees, think tanks and boards. He is the president of the 5th Hispanic National Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Chair of the Board of Lutherans in Medical Missions (LIMM), a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the LCMS.
In his spare time, Leo is a double-bass player with the St. Louis Civic Orchestra, plays Latin and jazz bass gigs with local groups and takes classes in or reads books about music history and theory for fun. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, Tracy Lynn, and their two children, Lucas Antonio and Ana Victoria.
Rev. Timothy Scharr
The Rev. Timothy Scharr graduated from Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Mich., with a double major in History/Political Science and Religious Studies. He then attended Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree.
Rev. Scharr served Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Indianola, Iowa, from 1984–1994. He served Iowa District West on various boards including Student Financial Aid, Stewardship, Board of Directors and as circuit counselor.
He then accepted a call to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wenatchee, Wash. While there, he served as a Circuit Counselor, an LWML Zone Counselor and as the Washington-Alaska Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) District Pastoral Counselor. On the national level, Rev. Scharr was a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod team in discussion with members from Renewal in Missouri.
Rev. Scharr then accepted a call to serve as senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Nashville, Ill. While there, he served the Southern Illinois District on the Mission Board (2003–2006), as second vice-president (2006–2009), as first vice-president (2009–2010) and on the Southern African Mission Task Force. In September 2010, Rev. Scharr stepped into the district president’s position when Rev. Herb Mueller, Jr. was elected first vice-president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in July 2010.
Rev. Scharr and his wife, Kathryn, reside in Aviston, Ill., and have two daughters, Jennifer and Kayla.
The Rev. Gregory P. Seltz
The Rev. Gregory P. Seltz is speaker of The Lutheran Hour® radio program, a position he has held since February 2011. He serves as the featured speaker on Lutheran Hour Ministries’ flagship Christian outreach radio program, which airs on more than 1,350 stations across North America as well as on the American Forces Network. He also serves as the organization’s spiritual leader, evangelist and ministry emissary with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC).
Before joining Lutheran Hour Ministries, Seltz has previously served as the director of the Cross-Cultural Ministry Center as well as professor of Theology at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.; executive director of Life’s Journey Ministries, an urban, not-for-profit evangelism ministry in Manhattan, New York; founding pastor of the first new Lutheran mission start in New York City in more than 40 years (Church For All Nations—LCMS); and pastor of congregations in Dallas and Tampa.
Rev. Bernhard Seter
The Rev. Bernhard Seter graduated from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minn., in 1972; from Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1974; and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., in 1978.
He is the pastor of Zion English Lutheran Church, Grafton, North Dakota, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Drayton, North Dakota. Seter is also the chaplain at the Grafton Developmental Center and the chairman of the Bioethics Committee for the Center.
Seter also served on the Board of Advisors for a hospice organization and for Unity Hospital in Grafton, was the chairmen of the Board of Directors for Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, served on the Board of Directors for the North Dakota District for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and was elected to the Board for LCMS Human Care and World Relief. He is a trained reconciler and served as a circuit counselor for nine years.
Seter also served as the district pastoral counselor for the North Dakota District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), Division of Evangelism and Missions and Lutheran Church Extension Fund.
Seter has also been appointed to be on the Governor’s Task Force Child Find Committee, which seeks to determine ways to inform parents, clergy and doctors of the need for early intervention for children with developmental disabilities. He has also written extensively on bioethics.
He was a speaker at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Lutherans For Life Medical Ethics Conference in 1999 and the St. Francis Medical Center International Bioethics Symposium in 2000.
He now serves on the LCMS Board for International Mission.
Rev. Alexey Streltsov
The Rev. Alexey Streltsov attended Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, Russia, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics in 1994. He attended the Baptist Bible Institute in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, from 1994–1995 and also worked as a translator and administrator at the Institute from 1994–1996. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., and received a Master of Arts degree in 1999 and Master of Sacred Theology degree in 2011.
Rev. Streltsov served St. Andrew’s Parish of Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Novosibirsk as a deacon from 1997–2001 and as a pastor since 2001 until present. He is a member of Consistory of Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) and is responsible for church relations of SELC as theological advisor of SELC Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin.
Rev. Streltsov has been a rector of the Seminary of SELC since its inception in 1997. He also works as an instructor at the seminary, teaching courses in the areas of New Testament, church history and dogmatics. He has served as a contributor to Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology and other periodicals and has presented at numerous seminars and local, regional and international Lutheran conferences.
He and his wife, Elena, have three children, Tikhon (15), Kirill (12) and Anastasia (6).
Rev. Benjamin Ball
Ball is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill. He is a graduate of Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Ball has served as pastor of St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Dedham, Mass., and St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Brookfield, Ill.
He resides in the Hamel parsonage with his wife, Serena, and their four children.