Bishop Jeff Clements

The Rev. H. Jeffrey A. Clements serves as bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod.

He was elected on June 18, 2016, to serve a six-year term as the third bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod. His term of service as Bishop of the Synod began on September 1, 2016, and he was installed by the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Reverend Elizabeth Eaton on September 24, 2016, at First Lutheran Church, Rockford.

As bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod, Bishop Clements serves as the Synod’s pastor of Word and Sacrament. He is the Synod’s President and Chief Executive and Administrative Officer, spiritual leader, preacher, and teacher. As part of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, he serves as a member of the Roster Committee. In addition, he serves as the Region 5 bishop liaison to the ELCA Church Council and works on the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Bishop Clements is honored to serve as one of the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois Board of Directors including serving as a member of its Executive Committee and to also serve on the Board of Trustees of Augustana College, which includes serving on the Campus Planning Committee and the Advancement Committee.

Bishop Clements earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1977 and a Master of Divinity from Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary (now Luther Seminary, a seminary of the ELCA) in St. Paul, Minn., in 1983. He was ordained August 7, 1983, and his first call was to serve as Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Massbach (rural Elizabeth), Illinois, beginning in 1983 until 1987. He then served as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dixon, from 1987-1990, and as Pastor of First Lutheran Church, Prophetstown, from 1990-2002. Beginning in 2002, he was called to serve as Assistant to the Bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod, a position which he held until 2016 when he was elected Bishop.

Bishop Clements is married to Paulette and they have one son, Pastor Nathan (Emily Nelson) Clements and a grandson, Jonathan, of LaPorte City, Iowa. Bishop Clements is an avid Cubs fan. He has been active in the Boy Scouts and received the Servant of Youth award in 1998. He and Paulette are members of First Lutheran Church, DeKalb.

Michelle Heinrich

Michelle has passed year two of serving as program director for Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, IL and loves a little sports competition whether volleyball or gaga ball. She served over 10 years in children and youth ministries at Faith, Rochelle, and sees the benefits and challenges to organized sports in both her church and family life. Michelle is currently in the synod diakonia class, owns a mean little scooter, can guess songs from the 70s and 80s like no one’s business, and loves laughing about a Jerry Seinfeld episode every now and again.

Rob Gieraltowski

Rob recently became the executive director for Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, IL and loves a good hike off-trail. Having served over 25 years at St. John’s-Bloomington, Rob has seen the rise and continued rise of sports in Central Illinois and how it has affected the local church. When not hiking off-trail he is probably listening to 80s music, reading something about Martin Luther, or chasing stink bugs out of his office.

Pr. Bill Callister

Pr. Bill served as a pastor for 30 years in central Illinois, serving at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Toluca and Zion Lutheran Church in Clifton. Currently, he has served at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Streator, Illinois since 2015.

Pr. Jon Pedersen

Jon Pedersen has served as a minister of word in sacrament in the ELCA for over 24 years. For five years, he served on the Bishop’s Task Force for Healthy Boundaries in the Northern Illinois Synod.

Pr. Vince Marolla and Christina Marolla

Chaplain Vince Marolla – ordained since 1992 – worked in hospice since 2000. Christina Marolla – paramedic in St. Paul, MN who moved to Galesburg in 2019 to work with the Galesburg Hospital Ambulance Service

Pr. Paul D. Carlson

Pastor Paul D Carlson has served in Illinois for his whole ministry. serving in Franklin Park, Litchfield, Lena, and Bolingbrook. Throughout his 45 years of ministry Pastor Paul has participated in the church’s advocacy programs in Illinois and nationally. He is a long-time member of Bread for the World. He has been a regular participant at Lutheran Day in Springfield. Pastor Paul has been retired for four years, currently serving as part-time interim ministry at Bethlehem.

Stacie Leese

Stacie Leese is the Director at Grace Lutheran Preschool in Loves Park. She is also a regional ambassador for ELEA, the ELCA schools organization. Her mission is to help schools and churches in the area with any needs they may have.

Pr. Mack Patrick

Pastor Mack Patrick is the Campus Minister at Grace Place Campus Ministry at Northern Illinois University. Pastor Mack has a heart for social justice and is a strong advocate and ally for the LGBTQIA community. As a transgender man himself, Pastor Mack knows the importance of education and has found a home within the church.

Pr. Kenneth Storck

Pastor Kenn Storck has served most of his 45 years in the ministry in Rockford in the Northern Illinois Synod at Grace (Loves Park), Rockford Lutheran High School, Trinity, and Gloria Dei. He is NIS Executive Director of Diakonia, a member of Bread for the World, and Rockford’s Mayor’s Hunger Luncheon working group. Now currently supply pastor at NIS congregations.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Elected as the ELCA’s fourth presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Bachelor of Music Education from the College of Wooster.

Ordained in 1981, Eaton served three congregations in Ohio before being elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006 and re-elected in May 2013.

Eaton’s four emphases for the ELCA are: We are church. We are Lutheran. We are church together. We are church for the sake of the world. These four emphases are fundamental to identifying who the ELCA is.

In 2015, under Eaton’s leadership, the ELCA underwent an extensive vision process to help this church journey faithfully and effectively together in the years ahead. The process resulted in Future Directions 2025, a strategic framework that serves shared leadership across the ELCA to realize common aspirations and better face the challenges of this church.

In addition, with Eaton’s guidance, the ELCA launched Bishop Eaton’s Leadership Initiative, which encourages all ELCA members to seek out and inspire gifted people in our congregations and communities to consider a call to the ministry of the gospel.

Eaton also called together a task force in 2016 to draft a policy statement for inter-religious relations in the ELCA. As the chief ecumenical officer of the ELCA, she represents this church in a wide range of ecumenical and interfaith settings. She is the vice president for North America on the Council of The Lutheran World Federation and serves on the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA Governing Board and Development Committee, and Religions for Peace USA Council of Presidents.

As presiding bishop, Eaton travels extensively, representing the ELCA in a variety of capacities. This has included a visit to a Syrian refugee camp, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Lutherans from around the world in Namibia and participating in an ecumenical service commemorating the Reformation in the Lund, Sweden, cathedral with Pope Francis.

Eaton’s husband is the Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest. They are parents of two adult children, Rebeckah and Susannah.

Pr. Richard Wehrs

Pastor Richard Wehrs is NIS’s Regional Manager for the ELCA Mission Investment Fund, working with 13 synods in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. He brings to this position extensive experience as a consultant in church stewardship, fundraising, building projects, and strategic planning, having worked with scores of congregations around the country over the last 15 years. His educational background includes studies in Non-Profit Management and Fundraising for Non-Profit Organizations at the St. Thomas University School of Business/Center for Non-Profit Management.

Pr. Jim Roberts

50-year ELCA pastor, co-founder of Manitoumie Retreat Center, author of “The 3rd Species”, “Saving the Soul of Jesus”, “Song of the Universe”, and “While in the Grasp.”

George Sanchez

Member of New Life Lutheran Church in Bolingbrook, Member of Northern Illinois Synod Subcommittee on Racial Justice, Former high school teacher.

The Altar Guild: The Unsung Heroes of a Congregation

Session c

Orange A1338

Pr. Robert Franek

The work of the members of a congregation’s Altar Guild is often taken for granted. Yet, ensuring that the worship space of the congregation is appropriately prepared for each worship service is crucial to a joyful and meaningful worship experience. The NIS Worship Committee will facilitate this conversation about best practices as an Altar Guild, and a member of a congregation’s Altar Guild will share the resources she developed to help those serving as members of the Altar Guild to serve well. Feel free to bring any resources that your congregation has developed to share with others attending.

Why We Come to Church – High School Youth

Session a or Session c

Session a in Purple C1253 or Session c in Orange A1345

Light – the HS youth leadership team of the Northern Illinois Synod

It’s easy to focus on the negatives in youth ministry, but why not see the sunny side? There are amazing young people all over the synod who are dedicated to their faith and their church. Come find out FROM THEM what engages them in their faith and home congregation. 

The True Cost: Human Trafficking Panel Discussion

Session b or Session c

Green A1247

David Deeds, Adjunct Criminology Professor, College of Dupage, Glen Ellen, IL and representatives from the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian Faiths will present. Joan Soltwisch and Kim Choin will facilitate.

Recently the Northern Illinois Synod Women’s Organization (NISWO) partnered with the Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking (JCAST) Chicago and the Office of Institutional Diversity at the University of St. Francis to bring the production of “The True Cost” by Still Point to the Joliet area. Our panel will encourage activism in your community by offering information about how to book this performance in your area and by educating individuals on the world of Human Trafficking.

Boundless – God Beyond Measure – the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering – what you need to know

Session b or Session c

Yellow A1249

Melinda Alekna, Gathering Synod Coordinator for the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering

Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the ELCA gather for a week of faith formation known as the ELCA Youth Gathering. Through days spent in interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service and fellowship, young people grow in faith and are challenged and inspired to live their faith in their daily lives. The next event will be June 29-July 3, 2021. This workshop will give you a preview of the event and help you get ready to register your group in September 2020!

Find out more at

We Can End Hunger in Our Times

Session a

Blue C1209

Pr. Paul Carlson, Social Ministry Subcommittee for Offering of Letters and Pr. Kenneth R. Storck

Simple, step-by-step guidance on how your congregation can conduct an Offering of Letters to live out what Jesus said: “You give them something to eat.” (Matt. 14:16). The Offering of Letters campaign is the main way Bread for the World ( engages people in churches in advocacy with their members of Congress. In a broken patrician political system your signature on a letter can make a difference to bring health and healing to many who are the least of these in our nation and world.

More information at

It isn’t CPR if you don’t break some ribs: A Paramedic, a Chaplain, Death, and Life

Session a or Session b or Session c

Red A1365

Chaplain Vince Marolla, Beacon of Hope Hospice and Christina Marolla, Galesburg Hospital Ambulance Service

Decisions about healthcare and treatment are very complex, and never easy. Christina and Vince will draw on their experience to talk and answer questions about things like Do Not Resuscitate forms, Advanced Directive, Hospice Care and other things that they have experienced working in health care. They do so from the perspectives of both physical and spiritual caregivers.

Walking Together: Congregations / Collaboration / Sharing Ministries

Session b

Orange A1345

Pr. Julie Monnard, Dean of the Southwest Conference

In the Northern Illinois Synod, congregations are working together in a variety of ways: sharing pastoral leaders – doing educational and other ministries together – Lenten “Round Robins,” and so forth. In this workshop, the Rev. Julie Monnard, Dean of the SW Conference, will facilitate a discussion on how congregations in that conference are talking about collaboration. Also invited are several other leaders and congregations experimenting with collaborations.

Congregational Constitutions

Session a

Orange A 1345

Denise Norman and Pr. Pat Esker

Is it time to update your congregation’s constitution? Constitutions are missional documents that free the congregation to serve Christ fully and in good order. If your congregation has not updated its constitution since the Model Constitution for Congregations was updated at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, there’s no time like the present! This workshop will walk congregational leaders through the process of congregation constitution review and be a guide to update your “road map for ministry.”

Stewardship’s Flip-Side: Recognizing and Removing Obstacles to Generosity

Session a or Session b or Session c

Orange A1350

Pr. Richard Wehrs, ELCA Mission Investment Fund Regional Manager

Too often our congregational stewardship efforts focus only on the donor’s obligation to give when we should be attentive as well to our obligations to the donor! Learn about the 12 factors of “donor confidence” that can either bolster or undermine individuals’ willingness to provide generous support to your ministry, and what you can do, year-round, by learning from the non-profit fundraising industry.

Hunger by the Numbers – Mapping hunger in your community

Session a or Session b

Yellow A1267

Ryan Cumming, Program Director, ELCA Hunger Education

In this session, we will walk through a new tool that makes finding data about your community simple, and talk about some ways this data can help as you start, continue to grow hunger-related ministries in your congregation and community. Data can help you and others know more about the challenges your neighbors face – and additional assets that are available in your community. It can also help communicate the impact of your ministry, encourage supporters, and identify possible areas for growth or change.

Developing an Effective Outreach Strategy

Session a or Session b

Orange A1340

Rev. Bob Dealey

This workshop will help you and your congregation to develop an effective outreach strategy for your specific context. Topics include: Organizing for outreach; Getting the word out about your congregation; Receiving & follow-up with guests; Inviting people to engage in God’s mission; Incorporating new disciples; Ministering to inactives; and Determining the next step. This workshop will help re-vitalize your congregation’s outreach efforts.

TerraCycling – An Alternative Recycling Program

Session a

Orange A1339

Karen Neder

Six years ago we started a recycling program at Trinity (Moline) through TerraCycle ( as a fundraiser to benefit Blessed Beginnings, our church preschool. With the help of the congregation and the greater Quad Cities community, this program has diverted over 3 tons of waste from our local landfills and raised over $2,000 for Blessed Beginnings Preschool.