Three new district presidents were elected at the 2014 district conventions that were held in June. These men will join the other nine district presidents in encouraging and equipping called workers, helping congregations carry out their ministries, and serving on the Conference of Presidents.
Peter Naumann, who served as president of the Dakota-Montana District for the past 20 years, declined the nomination for election to another two-year term. As he reflects back on his time as district president, he says that his greatest joy has been “meeting the members, serving the congregations of the district, and getting to know the pastors and teachers better.”
On June 10, Douglas Free was elected the new president of the Dakota-Montana District. Free, a 1983 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., currently serves at St. Paul’s, Rapid City, S.D. He has been the first vice president of the Dakota-Montana District since 1994.
How has God prepared Free to serve as district president? He notes, “As God had James write, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen,’ having attended so many meetings, I realize the importance of listening carefully and prayerfully to everything that’s being said. My entire ministry has been spent in the Dakota-Montana District, so the called workers and various ministries are fairly familiar. That will make it easier to work with everyone in our district.”
John Steinbrenner was elected president of the Pacific Northwest District on June 12. Theodore Lambert, who had served as district president for 12 years, is retiring from the ministry. Steinbrenner says, “President Lambert did a great job of maintaining a good attitude during stressful times and situations—a reminder that God is in control and all will work out and that it is a privilege to serve the Lord regardless of our positions as servant leaders. He didn’t let himself get overwhelmed by crises—a good reminder that we are not the ‘saviors’ of the church. Jesus is the Savior of his church. We simply serve faithfully and let God bring the results.”
Steinbrenner graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1991. He was called to start a church in northwest Boise, Idaho, in 1994 and continues to serve at Cross of Christ today. Steinbrenner has served as the first vice president of the Pacific Northwest District since 2006.
“I am looking forward to working/visiting with the called workers of this Pacific Northwest District and enjoying mutual encouragement with them,” says Steinbrenner. “I am also looking forward to meeting and learning from the other district presidents and our synod’s presidium. I have a deep amount of respect for these leaders and trust I can benefit from their vast experience and Christ-centered guidance.”
Douglas Engelbrecht, president of the Northern Wisconsin District, is also retiring from the ministry. On June 17, the district elected Joel Zank to serve as its new district president. Zank, a 1987 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, has served as pastor at Mount Olive, Appleton, Wis., since 1996. In 2011, Zank began serving as first vice president of the district.
Zank says, “President Engelbrecht truly has the heart of a servant. Anyone who has worked with him knows he lives to serve Jesus. God has gifted him with the ability to be patient and loving even in the most difficult situations. You can’t learn those traits from someone, but you can admire them and pray that God would bless you in the same way. That is my prayer—that God would grant me that same servant’s heart.”
When asked what his advice for the new district presidents would be, Engelbrecht said, “Be extremely patient in dealing with people. Place all of your burdens in the hands of the Lord before you go to sleep each night. Enjoy the opportunity to serve.”
Three new Synodical Council members also were elected at the district conventions, replacing men who chose not to stand for reelection. New members are Mark Bannan, Michigan District; John Fowler, South Atlantic District; and Gary Graf, North Atlantic District.
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Volume 101, Number 9
Issue: September 2014
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