ST. LOUIS — LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison installed five staff members into their Synod positions during the Sept. 3 morning chapel service at the church body’s International Center here.
In his prayer for the service, Harrison asked God to “grant to [them], as they now begin their service in these positions, the direction, aid and counsel of your Holy Spirit, that through their labor the church would be nourished, sustained and equipped for every good work and built up into Him who is the Head, … Jesus Christ our Lord.”
All but one of the five staff members fill positions that have existed for some time. And all five positions are in line with the Synod’s restructure that was adopted by delegates to the 2010 Synod convention and covered in the church body’s budget.
In alphabetical order, the five are:
• Matthew T. Bergholt, coordinator of Online Support and Services for LCMS School Ministry. In that position, he manages and expands existing online School Ministry programs, implements new procedures for collaboration and communication among LCMS districts and schools, and assists Lutheran schools around the country in their technology-integration work.
Before joining the School Ministry staff earlier this year, Bergholt was a technology instructor at St. Luke’s Lutheran School in Oviedo, Fla., and previously served as a teacher and director of technology at Trinity Lutheran School, Orlando, Fla.
He is a 2007 graduate of Concordia University Chicago, at River Forest, Ill., with bachelor’s degrees in secondary education and history.
Bergholt and his wife, Melissa, have one son — Christopher.
• Deaconess Mireya Johnson, production coordinator for LCMS Communications, in which she assists with exhibit space for conferences and oversees exhibit displays, updates LCMS ministry Web pages and works with vendors and ministries on production needs. She has been in that post — the only new one of the five installed — since early August.
From 2002 to 2005, Johnson taught Spanish in grades 2-8 in Daphne, Ala., and was actively involved in Christian education and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fairhope, Ala. In the years 2005-06, she worked in the Community Services office at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Ind. For four years before that — in Guatemala and Venezuela — she taught more than 20 theological courses and confirmation classes, worked with youth, taught altar-care classes, evangelized and visited the sick and poor.
Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif., and a master’s degree in religious studies from CTS. Her deaconess certificate is from Concordia University Chicago.
Her husband, the Rev. Ross Johnson, is director of LCMS Disaster Response. They have two sons — Miguel and Felix.
• Ross Stroh, executive director of LCMS Accounting and Financial Services since December 2013. He oversees the Accounting department that prepares and maintains (on behalf of the LCMS chief financial officer) all budgetary, accounting and financial records for the corporate Synod.
Stroh has been with the Synod staff since 1992, overseeing budgeting and related financial matters for the LCMS mission department and some 64 foreign-mission fields. In the years 1990-92, he was a business officer in Panama City, Panama. Also prior to joining the Synod staff, Stroh worked in corporate accounting in the automotive and transportation industries.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., and a master’s degree in international business from Webster University, Webster Groves, Mo.
He currently serves as congregational chairman of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis.
• the Rev Mark A. Wood, director of Mission and Outreach Ministry for the Office of National Mission. For that position — in which he began serving June 16 — Wood identifies, develops and promotes resources for planting new churches, revitalizing existing congregations and equipping Lutherans for evangelism.
He previously was pastor of Lamb of God Lutheran Church, Lithia, Fla., for which he was founding pastor. Lamb of God is a daughter congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Brandon, Fla., where Wood was evangelism pastor from 2000 to 2008.
A 2000 CTS gradulate, Wood’s bachelor’s degree is in business administration.
He and his wife, Mary Ellen, have five adult children and five grandchildren.
• the Rev. Marcus T. Zill, full-time (deployed) director of Campus Ministry and LCMS U (the Synod’s new campus-ministry initiative), also with the Office of National Mission. He began work in that post July 1.
Previously, Zill had been coordinator for LCMS Campus Ministry since 2012, and served for more than 15 years as full-time campus pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie, Wyo. During that time, he also helped found Higher Things, a youth-oriented LCMS Recognized Service Organization, and served seven years as its Christ on Campus executive.
A 1996 graduate of CTS, he and his wife, Bethany, have two teenage sons — Sterling and Grant.
The Zills live in Albuquerque, N.M. The four other newly-installed staff members live in or are in the process of relocating to the St. Louis area.
The Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission and interim chief mission officer for the Synod, gave the sermon for the installation service. He based his message on Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, both of whom went to the temple to pray — from Luke 18. In the parable, the Pharisee is self-righteous and thinks of others (including the tax collector) with contempt, thanking God that he is not like them. The tax collector is penitent and asks God to “be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Day told the five being installed that “there is a warning here for all of you, as you begin your life of service to the church — a warning for all of us church bureaucrats who live inside of glass palaces. We must despise ourselves as unrighteous and trust in Him alone who is … righteousness, for His mercy.”
And as he ended the message, Day asked the five to “come to this day of your installation … like tax collectors, … with all of your pain and your fear and your worries. … But come to where God actually promises to be for you — a place where He extends to you His mercy and love, where He gives Himself up for you. Live daily in His Word and in His life-giving Sacraments.”
Day encouraged those being installed to receive the Sacrament of the Altar weekly.
“There, in that Holy Communion, you become the temple of God’s Holy Spirit,” he said. “And that will allow you to go home each and every day and in your work here for the church justified — holding a righteousness that is not your own, but a righteousness that will never wither or fade away.”
Posted Sept. 4, 2014