Christian Giving Counselor Directory

Looking for guidance on how best to use your gifts to not only help WELS ministries, but also plan for your future? Below is a list of WELS Christian giving counselors. These specially trained men can help guide you on how to be a steward of your gifts. There is no fee for the services of a counselor. Deferred giving counselors specialize in gifts that help fund synod ministry in the future. Current giving counselors specialize in gifts that fund ministry now. For general gift planning information, call WELS Ministry of Christian Giving at 800-827-5482 (local: 414-256-3209).

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Rev. Rich Kogler

I served for over 35 years as a parish pastor, mission church planter, and area Lutheran high school teacher in Illinois, Wisconsin, and California. During this time I also served in a number of positions both at the district and synodical levels, including 15 years on the Board for Ministerial Education. I am now the Christian giving counselor for the Arizona- California and South Central Districts of WELS. I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts to our Savior through estates that will support the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ by our congregations and synod.

I know firsthand how much the generous gifts of God’s people are a blessing to the training of the next generation of workers and the local congregation’s gospel ministry, and I enjoy helping fellow Christians express their love through these gifts.

My wife, Jana, and I live in Arizona. We are members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in  Tempe.

Phone: 480-388-1094

Rev. Rich KoglerDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Jonathan Stern

I have been serving WELS Ministry of Christian Giving since January, 2014. Before that I was a parish pastor at congregations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. During this time I was privileged to serve the districts of our synod in a variety of areas. I am now a Christian giving counselor for our Arizona-California and South Central Districts of WELS. I specialize in the current (immediate) gifts that enable our synod to carry on its worldwide mission efforts.

From parish to parish and district to district, it is God’s grace that moves the hearts of his people to support our gospel endeavors. He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. To him be the glory.

My wife Pat and I reside in Gilbert, Arizona, a growing suburb on the southeast side of Phoenix. We attend Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tempe.

Phone: 928-301-9548

Rev. Jonathan SternCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Mr. Scott Wagner

I was called to serve as a Christian giving counselor for the Dakota-Montana and Nebraska Districts in 2017 after 30 years as a teacher—first in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., then in Aurora, Ill. For 12 of those years I served as principal in Aurora. As a giving counselor, I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

I am the third generation to be baptized, confirmed, and married at St. Andrew, Chicago, Ill. As a recipient of Christian education at all levels and as a parent of three alumni of Luther Preparatory School, I appreciate the pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders who encouraged my family and me with God’s living Word. I look forward to serving God’s people so that the gospel may continue to spread for generations to come.

My wife Karen and I live in Sioux Falls, S.D., and attend Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Phone: 605-231-7402

Mr. Scott WagnerDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Phil Spaude

I accepted the call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after serving 27 years in the parish ministry in Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming and serving four years in the teaching ministry. I’ve also served in positions at the district and synod levels, including 20 years on the Adult Discipleship Commission. My ministry now includes the northern, metro, and southeast portions of the Minnesota District as well as the Dakota-Montana and Pacific Northwest Districts. I specialize in current gifts—gifts that can help fund the work of our synod right now.

I know from experience what a huge blessing it is when the Holy Spirit moves God’s people to give back to advance gospel ministry. We also have the joy of imitating the greatest Giver of all and seeing that it really is “more blessed to give than to receive.” I hope to be able to assist you with specific direction in making your gifts.

Phone: 612-720-1323

Rev. Phil SpaudeCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. John Kenyon

I am a 1985 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. I served more than 20 years as an outreach pastor and parish pastor in congregations in Minnesota, Florida, and Michigan before accepting the call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving. My ministry includes both the Michigan and North Atlantic Districts—everywhere from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina and into Canada. I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts to our Savior that will be made in the future and will help with sharing his gospel in our local congregations’ and synod’s ministries.

I enjoy the opportunity to assist God’s people in understanding ways that they can make gifts that will help bring people to believe in their Savior. Making planned gifts allows us to honor our Savior even after we have begun to experience the joy of heaven.

My wife Debra and I live in Stevensville, Mich. and attend St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Phone: 414-405-9226

Rev. John KenyonDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. John Graf

I was a parish pastor for 22 years, serving congregations in Ohio, Mich., and Wis. before being called to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving in 1990. During my parish ministry I also served in a variety of positions, including as a member of the Wisconsin Lutheran College Board of Regents’ Fiscal Affairs and Executive Committees. I am a graduate of the National Planned Giving Institute and served for four years as Director of Planned Giving for WELS. I am the senior giving counselor for the current gifts area (which funds the immediate work of our synod), and serve the Michigan and North Atlantic Districts.

My real pleasure comes from seeing the joy a donor has in helping spread the good news about Jesus. When I say, “Thank you,” and they say, “You’re welcome, but it’s really the Lord’s anyway,” that makes my day!

My wife Kathleen and I live in Ixonia, Wis.

Phone: 414-899-8173

Rev. John GrafCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Michael Hatzung

After graduating from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1984, I served St. John’s, Renville, Minn. and Christ, North St. Paul, Minn. before accepting the call in 2005 to serve as a WELS Christian giving counselor. I serve the Minnesota and Pacific Northwest Districts specializing in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

There are many people who would like to give a lasting, meaningful gift as a thank you for the eternal gift of heaven, but they don’t necessarily know how to make that happen. My role is to help them channel their gifts to the ministries they target in the most effective way. My ultimate goal is that when people finalize their estate plans, they can say, “This is exactly how we want to honor God and support kingdom work even after we’re gone!”

My wife Debbie and I live in Maplewood, Minn. and attend Christ Lutheran Church in North St. Paul.

Phone: 612-280-4491

Rev. Michael HatzungDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Phil Gieschen

I accepted the divine call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after 32 years as a pastor of several different congregations in the Northern Wisconsin District. I also served as supervisor to seminary vicars, district evangelism coordinator, circuit pastor, member of the district Ministry of Christian Giving commission, and the district help team. Now, as a Christian giving counselor for the Minnesota and Nebraska Districts, I specialize in current gifts, which immediately fund WELS ministry.

It has been a joy of ministry to lead God’s people to grow in the grace of Christian giving as they respond with thanksgiving to the boundless love of Christ. I look forward to sharing with them how the Lord is blessing the gospel proclamation in WELS through home and world mission work.

My wife Lori and I live in St. Peter, Minn., and worship at St. Peter Lutheran Church.

Phone: 715-891-0034

Rev. Phil GieschenCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Phil Spaude

I accepted the call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after serving 27 years in the parish ministry in Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming and serving four years in the teaching ministry. I’ve also served in positions at the district and synod levels, including 20 years on the Adult Discipleship Commission. My ministry now includes the northern, metro, and southeast portions of the Minnesota District as well as the Dakota-Montana and Pacific Northwest Districts. I specialize in current gifts—gifts that can help fund the work of our synod right now.

I know from experience what a huge blessing it is when the Holy Spirit moves God’s people to give back to advance gospel ministry. We also have the joy of imitating the greatest Giver of all and seeing that it really is “more blessed to give than to receive.” I hope to be able to assist you with specific direction in making your gifts.

Rev. Phil SpaudeCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Mr. Scott Wagner

I was called to serve as a Christian giving counselor for the Dakota-Montana and Nebraska Districts in 2017 after 30 years as a teacher—first in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., then in Aurora, Ill. For 12 of those years I served as principal in Aurora. As a giving counselor, I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

I am the third generation to be baptized, confirmed, and married at St. Andrew, Chicago, Ill. As a recipient of Christian education at all levels and as a parent of three alumni of Luther Preparatory School, I appreciate the pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders who encouraged my family and me with God’s living Word. I look forward to serving God’s people so that the gospel may continue to spread for generations to come.

My wife Karen and I live in Sioux Falls, S.D., and attend Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Phone: 605-231-7402

Mr. Scott WagnerDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Phil Gieschen

I accepted the divine call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after 32 years as a pastor of several different congregations in the Northern Wisconsin District. I also served as supervisor to seminary vicars, district evangelism coordinator, circuit pastor, member of the district Ministry of Christian Giving commission, and the district help team. Now, as a Christian giving counselor for the Minnesota and Nebraska Districts, I specialize in current gifts, which immediately fund WELS ministry.

It has been a joy of ministry to lead God’s people to grow in the grace of Christian giving as they respond with thanksgiving to the boundless love of Christ. I look forward to sharing with them how the Lord is blessing the gospel proclamation in WELS through home and world mission work.

My wife Lori and I live in St. Peter, Minn., and worship at St. Peter Lutheran Church.

Phone: 715-891-0034

Rev. Phil GieschenCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. John Kenyon

I am a 1985 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. I served more than 20 years as an outreach pastor and parish pastor in congregations in Minnesota, Florida, and Michigan before accepting the call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving. My ministry includes both the Michigan and North Atlantic Districts—everywhere from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina and into Canada. I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts to our Savior that will be made in the future and will help with sharing his gospel in our local congregations’ and synod’s ministries.

I enjoy the opportunity to assist God’s people in understanding ways that they can make gifts that will help bring people to believe in their Savior. Making planned gifts allows us to honor our Savior even after we have begun to experience the joy of heaven.

My wife Debra and I live in Stevensville, Mich. and attend St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Phone: 414-405-9226

Rev. John KenyonDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. John Graf

I was a parish pastor for 22 years, serving congregations in Ohio, Mich., and Wis. before being called to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving in 1990. During my parish ministry I also served in a variety of positions, including as a member of the Wisconsin Lutheran College Board of Regents’ Fiscal Affairs and Executive Committees. I am a graduate of the National Planned Giving Institute and served for four years as Director of Planned Giving for WELS. I am the senior giving counselor for the current gifts area (which funds the immediate work of our synod), and serve the Michigan and North Atlantic Districts.

My real pleasure comes from seeing the joy a donor has in helping spread the good news about Jesus. When I say, “Thank you,” and they say, “You’re welcome, but it’s really the Lord’s anyway,” that makes my day!

My wife Kathleen and I live in Ixonia, Wis.

Phone: 414-899-8173

Rev. John GrafCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Dennis Kleist

I began my ministry as the first resident missionary in Fort Myers, Fla., where I helped to begin two other congregations. Next I served for 20 years in Morton Grove, Ill., an ethnically diverse suburb of Chicago. In addition I served for 14 years as a member and then as chairman of the Southeastern Wisconsin District Mission Board. Since 2003 I have been serving as a Christian giving counselor for the Northern Wisconsin District specializing in deferred gifts, some of which return a lifetime of income, and in Christian estate planning.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about mission work. That’s why I enjoy being a Christian giving counselor. It’s all about our Lord’s mission call to each of us, and the opportunities God has placed before us now through the worldwide mission of WELS.

My wife Kerri and I live in Appleton, Wis., and attend Mount Olive Lutheran Church.

Phone: 920-740-5899

Rev. Dennis KleistDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Dr. Michael Dietz

I accepted the divine call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after serving for over 37 years as a parish pastor in Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri. I also served in a number of positions both at the district and synodical levels including the Minnesota District Evangelism Coordinator and on the Every Member Visit Task Force. I am the Christian giving counselor for part of the Minnesota District, the Nebraska District, and the Northern Wisconsin District. I specialize in current gifts, which will help fund the ongoing work of our synod.

As a parish pastor I truly enjoyed the one-on-one spiritual conversations I had with members and others. I plan to work with you, the dedicated members of our synod who love your Savior, and assist you in the joy of returning a portion of your blessings to the Lord for the advancement of his kingdom.

Phone: 507-276-7415

Rev. Dr. Michael DietzCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Michael Hatzung

After graduating from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1984, I served St. John’s, Renville, Minn. and Christ, North St. Paul, Minn. before accepting the call in 2005 to serve as a WELS Christian giving counselor. I serve the Minnesota and Pacific Northwest Districts specializing in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

There are many people who would like to give a lasting, meaningful gift as a thank you for the eternal gift of heaven, but they don’t necessarily know how to make that happen. My role is to help them channel their gifts to the ministries they target in the most effective way. My ultimate goal is that when people finalize their estate plans, they can say, “This is exactly how we want to honor God and support kingdom work even after we’re gone!”

My wife Debbie and I live in Maplewood, Minn. and attend Christ Lutheran Church in North St. Paul.

Phone: 612-280-4491

Rev. Michael HatzungDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Phil Spaude

I accepted the call to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after serving 27 years in the parish ministry in Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming and serving four years in the teaching ministry. I’ve also served in positions at the district and synod levels, including 20 years on the Adult Discipleship Commission. My ministry now includes the northern, metro, and southeast portions of the Minnesota District as well as the Dakota-Montana and Pacific Northwest Districts. I specialize in current gifts—gifts that can help fund the work of our synod right now.

I know from experience what a huge blessing it is when the Holy Spirit moves God’s people to give back to advance gospel ministry. We also have the joy of imitating the greatest Giver of all and seeing that it really is “more blessed to give than to receive.” I hope to be able to assist you with specific direction in making your gifts.

Phone: 612-720-1323

Rev. Phil SpaudeCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Kurt Lueneburg

Currently there are vacancies in the South Atlantic District. During this time you may contact the director of Christian Giving, Rev. Kurt Lueneburg.

After 21 years of serving congregations in Memphis, Tenn., and Cannon Falls, Minn., I started serving as a current giving counselor in WELS’ Minnesota and Nebraska districts. In 2012 I accepted the call to be WELS’ director of Christian Giving and began serving in the position in 2013.

As a counselor, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet God’s gifted people, hear their faith stories, and nurture them in the gracious richness of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a blessing to see the Spirit compel them to bring thank offerings to our Father who graciously gives all of us one blessing after another in Christ. Now as director I’m privileged to encourage Christian giving through our team of Christian giving counselors and support staff, and to assist our district presidents, circuit pastors, and Ministry of Christian Giving district chairmen as they help congregations grow their mission offerings. All to God’s glory and by his grace!

My wife, Susan Ann, and I live in Ixonia, Wis., and worship at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Watertown, Wis.

Phone: 612-599-9316

Rev. Kurt LueneburgCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Rich Kogler

I served for over 35 years as a parish pastor, mission church planter, and area Lutheran high school teacher in Illinois, Wisconsin, and California. During this time I also served in a number of positions both at the district and synodical levels, including 15 years on the Board for Ministerial Education. I am now the Christian giving counselor for the Arizona- California and South Central Districts of WELS. I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts to our Savior through estates that will support the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ by our congregations and synod.

I know firsthand how much the generous gifts of God’s people are a blessing to the training of the next generation of workers and the local congregation’s gospel ministry, and I enjoy helping fellow Christians express their love through these gifts.

My wife, Jana, and I live in Arizona. We are members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in  Tempe.

Phone: 480-388-1094

Rev. Rich KoglerDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Jonathan Stern

I have been serving WELS Ministry of Christian Giving since January, 2014. Before that I was a parish pastor at congregations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. During this time I was privileged to serve the districts of our synod in a variety of areas. I am now a Christian giving counselor for our Arizona-California and South Central Districts of WELS. I specialize in the current (immediate) gifts that enable our synod to carry on its worldwide mission efforts.

From parish to parish and district to district, it is God’s grace that moves the hearts of his people to support our gospel endeavors. He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. To him be the glory.

My wife Pat and I reside in Gilbert, Arizona, a growing suburb on the southeast side of Phoenix. We attend Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tempe.

Phone: 928-301-9548

Rev. Jonathan SternCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Mr. Rick Kneser

I was called to serve as a WELS Christian giving counselor for the Southeastern Wisconsin District in 2015 after a successful, 29-year career in mortgage banking. I received my Bachelor of Business Administration from UW-Whitewater in 1982 with an emphasis in accounting, and served as a CPA for five years before entering the finance world. As a giving counselor, I specialize in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

I am very appreciative of the consistent gospel message being delivered in our churches and how the Ministry of Christian Giving (MCG) helps WELS members carry that out. It has been asked, “If not you, who?” We all carry the Great Commission with us, in every action, every day, and that is at the core of our mission at MCG, which I am proud to be a part of.

My wife Linda and I live in Slinger, Wis. and attend Morning Star Lutheran Church in Jackson.

Phone: 262-305-7688

Mr. Rick KneserDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Kevin Hundley

I joined WELS Ministry of Christian Giving in 2016 after 18 years as a parish pastor. I have experience in Milwaukee urban ministry, a mission setting in Harrisburg, Pa., and then a multi-site congregation in Kenosha, Wis. During this time I explored my passion for counseling through continuing education. I also have years of experience as a police chaplain. Now, as a Christian giving counselor for the Southeastern Wisconsin District, I specialize in current gifts, which immediately fund WELS ministry.

My parents owned and operated an appliance store. They were blessed by the Lord and dedicated in their support and service to their church. I look forward to serving people like this who have been blessed by God and, in thanks and praise to the Savior, desire to support his work and be a blessing to others.

My wife Renee, daughter Delaney, and I live in Oak Creek, Wis. and attend St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Phone: 262-237-2660

Rev. Kevin HundleyCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Mr. Gerry Heckmann

I came to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving after 23 years of teaching. I have two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree in education, and have taught in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Hong Kong. Since accepting the call to serve as a Christian giving counselor, I have graduated from the National Planned Giving Institute. I serve the Western Wisconsin District specializing in deferred gifts—gifts that will help fund the future work of our synod.

Since 1990, I have had the joy of assisting God’s people as they say “Thank you, Jesus!” People have the motivation and the means, but often aren’t sure of the method. When the Christian sees the opportunities God presents, it’s simply a matter of choosing which arrow in the quiver of blessings will hit the target.

My wife Marie and I live in Lake Mills, Wis. and attend St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Phone: 920-390-0741

Mr. Gerry HeckmannDeferred counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving
Rev. Steve Staude

I was called to WELS Ministry of Christian Giving in 2008 after 34 years of serving congregations in Minn., Wis., Ill., and Fla. During that time I earned my doctorate and also served as the Second Vice President of the Western Wisconsin District. I have written Bible studies for Northwestern Publishing House and am a frequent contributor to Meditations. Now, as a Christian giving counselor for the Western Wisconsin District, I specialize in current gifts, which immediately fund WELS ministry.

Early in my ministry a classmate was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a young family. He did not have a will, and it was a hassle for his widow.That incident made me determined to inform other couples, young and old, to “get their house in order” as Isaiah told King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38).

My wife Ruth Ann and I live in Germantown, Wis. and attend Calvary Lutheran Church in Thiensville.

Phone: 262-706-5018

Rev. Steve StaudeCurrent counselorContact Ministry of Christian Giving