Synod Staff and Officers

zeiser_smallThe Rev. Christopher deForest, bishop

The bishop has primary responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament in this synod and its congregations; provides pastoral care and leadership for the synod, its congregations, and its rostered leaders; oversees and administers the work of the synod; and serves as ecumenical officer for the synod.

Full-Time Staff

bennethum_smallThe Rev. Dr. D. Michael Bennethum, Director for Evangelical Mission; Executive Associate of the Bishop for Innovation

Pr. Bennethum works as DEM and also helps congregations and ministries develop and grow, both in time-honored and totally new directions. He relates to the Witness & Service Ministry Team and the Mission Interpretation Network.

The Rev. Rachael Dietz, Executive Associate to the Bishop for Leadership

Pr. Dietz serves to strengthen lay and rostered ministry across the Synod through candidacy, First Call Theological Education, mobility, and stewardship. She also relates to the congregations throughout Berks county.

Part-Time Staff

The Rev. Kathleen Ash-Flashner, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Ash-Flashner is the pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Summer Hill. She works with congregations in the Schuylkill Mission District.


Deacon Travis Woodfield, Part-time Director of Congregation Legacy and Purpose

Dcn. Woodfield is responsible for research and development leading to a strategic plan for congregations to live well, serve well, and to end well; to leave a lasting, faithful, and purposeful legacy.

The Rev. Lauren Wolfe Blatt, Director of Communications and Events

Pr. Blatt is the pastor of St. John, Lehighton. She is responsible for all synod communications and event planning. She also relates to the Connections Building Ministry Team.

The Rev. Samantha Drennan, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Drennan is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Macungie. She works with congregations in the Northern Lehigh Valley Mission District.

Mr. Eric Gombert, Director of Operations

Mr. Gombert is cantor at St. John, Allentown. He is responsible for office and operational functions, and also serves as the synod finance administrator / bookkeeper.


The Rev. Charles H. Grube, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Grube is pastor of St. Paul, Dallas. He works with congregations in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Mission District.

The Rev. Jean L. Huber, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Huber is the pastor of Arndts Lutheran Church in Easton. She works with congregations in the Bethlehem-Easton and Lehigh Mission Districts and handles Misconduct Prevention/Intervention for the synod.

nielsensmThe Rev. Niels H. Nielsen, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Nielsen is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Dingmans Ferry. He works with congregations in the Pocono Mission District.

The Rev. Carl Shankweiler, Part-time Associate of the Bishop

Pr. Shankweiler is pastor of Zion, Frackville, and Trinity Chapel, Buck Run,  He works with congregations in the Hazleton-Lehighton Mission District.


Christopher deForest, bishop

Kristen Edelman-Weiner,
vice president

Carl Shankweiler, secretary



Donald Boyer, treasurer


Support Staff

Laurie Christman
Laurie Christman

Stacey Burke
Stacey is the synod’s receptionist and is responsible for scheduling supply pastors, maintaining the database of congregations, maintaining the rosters, and tracking annual congregational reports.

Debbie Skinner
Debbie Skinner
Debbie is the benevolence clerk and is responsible for the daily prayers and office supplies.