Getting to know your district presidents

Dennis Klatt 

On June 13, Dennis Klatt was elected to serve as the district president of the Minnesota District. Klatt is pastor at Holy Trinity, New Hope, Minn. 

Q: What was your upbringing like and how did you come to be a pastor? 

A: I was born and raised on a dairy farm west of Menomonie, Wis., the fourth of eight children. God planted the desire to serve in the pastoral ministry in my heart at the age of five—largely due to my respect for and admiration of Pastor Martin Schwartz who served St. Paul’s, Menomonie. My parents provided strong encouragement toward ministry as my school years progressed.  

Q: What ministry and service opportunities has God placed before you that helped prepare you to serve as district president?  

A: For 30 years God has given me the privilege of serving as a parish pastor in both rural and suburban settings. My current congregation, Holy Trinity in New Hope, Minn., is a diverse group of believers from European, Asian, African, and Hispanic backgrounds. I am currently involved with coordinating and teaching two Pastoral Studies Institute students. Also during my ministry I have had the joy of serving the Minnesota District in a variety of roles—Commission on Evangelism member, Commission on Adult Discipleship chairman, circuit pastor, and district vice president.  

Q: How would you describe the role of the district president?  

A: The district president is a servant. He serves God and his district by encouraging and fostering faithfulness to God’s Word in doctrine and practice along with making use of every opportunity to reach the lost and nurture the found. The president also assists congregations and schools in the process of calling pastors, teachers, and staff ministers to carry out the ministry of the Word among them. 


Snowden (Gene) Sims 

Gene Sims was elected to serve as the district president of the Michigan District on June 12. Sims is pastor at St. Paul’s, Columbus, Ohio. 

Q: What was your upbringing like and how did you come to be a pastor? 

A: I was born in Lima, Ohio. My mother moved from Lima, taking me and an older brother, Gregory, to Milwaukee, Wis., when I was six. My first contact with a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran church came through Sunday school at St. Marcus Lutheran Church. My brother and I were enrolled in Jerusalem Lutheran School and baptized and confirmed at Jerusalem. I spent my high school years at Wisconsin Lutheran High School.  

One day in my sophomore year, two teachers asked if I had ever thought about becoming a pastor. My answer was “no” at the time. They continued to encourage me to think about it. I enjoyed reading the Word, living it, and sharing it. My junior year, our swing choir director, Pastor Mark Bitter, drove me six hours to meet my family in Ohio after a performance over a holiday. We talked about ministry most of that time. 

Q: What ministry and service opportunities has God placed before you that helped prepare you to serve as district president?  

A: After graduation, I served as a tutor, teacher, professor, and dean at Northwestern Preparatory School/Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis., over the course of two different calls. My time there gave me valuable insight into addressing different situations and dealing with people in crisis along with parents. My relational skills were definitely sharpened. Early in my career I also served at Salem, Milwaukee, with three other pastors, one of whom was a retiring district president. I also served as the vicar to a district president.  

Q: How would you describe the role of the district president?  

A: I guess a way to sum it up is that the district president is in a position that assists in making the body of the district function as a member of the body of the synod, and, more important, as a member of the body of Christ.  

Current district presidents 

Arizona-California: Jon Buchholz 

Dakota-Montana: Douglas Free 

Michigan: Gene Sims 

Minnesota: Dennis Klatt 

Nebraska: Philip Hirsch 

North Atlantic: Donald Tollefson 

Northern Wisconsin: Joel Zank 

Pacific Northwest: John Steinbrenner 

South Atlantic: Charles Westra 

South Central: Donald Patterson 

Southeastern Wisconsin: David Kolander 

Western Wisconsin: Michael Jensen 


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Author:
Volume 105, Number 8
Issue: August 2018

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