Shortly after I was elected to serve as bishop, I met with the staff of the synod office, as I knew they would have questions about how I wanted to organize the work of the office. I asked them to give me six months to get a sense of the challenges and opportunities facing the synod and to imagine with them how we might best work together. We have now adopted a synod staff mission statement and aligned our work and our job descriptions to best fulfill this mission: The staff of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA seeks to accompany congregations and leaders as we engage in God’s mission of love and reconciliation.


In order to fulfill this mission, we will have the following positions on staff:

  • Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission. Pastor Matthew Short will begin serving in this position on May 1 as a member of the ELCA Churchwide organization, where the position is also known as the Director for Evangelical Mission. His responsibilities include coordination of new starts, renewal ministries, and the synod’s stewardship strategy.
  • Assistant to the Bishop for Congregations in Mission. Pastor Kristin Nielsen has agreed to remain on synod staff in this new role, in which she will oversee the accompaniment of congregations in transition and coordinate synodical engagement in the Cross+Gen ministry network, as well as relating to several clusters and committees.
  • Assistant to the Bishop for Missional Leaders. Rhonda Hill has chosen to end her time in the synod office on June 15 (read her announcement here). We will soon be posting this position and accepting applications for someone to serve in this capacity, overseeing leadership development opportunities, convening regular gatherings of various groups of rostered ministers, assisting with congregational call processes, and meeting with several clusters and committees.
  • Executive Assistant for Administration and Candidacy. Mary Romskog will continue to serve, and this new job title more accurately reflects the expanded scope of her work.
  • Financial Administrator. Dave Groenewold, who has faithfully served as our Director of Finance for 14 years, is retiring as of June 30 (read his announcement here). Interviews are underway for his successor, and we hope to be able to introduce this person at the synod assembly.
  • Synod Communicator. Sarah Christiaansen has done an excellent job, continually finding ways to refine and improve the ways in which we communicate, and she will continue in this position.
  • Administrative Assistant. Phil Smith will continue to support the work of the synod office and Outreach for Hope in his gracious, witty, and efficient manner.


In addition, while the Outreach for Hope staff is not technically a part of the synod staff, they share our office and are considered a part of the synod team for all practical purposes. The staff for this ministry will be:

  • Executive Director. Pastor Jim Bickel is retiring from this work (read his announcement here), effective December 31, and the Outreach for Hope board will be seeking candidates for this position.
  • Advancement Director. Maripat Monahan brings great passion and insight to this work, which she began in September, and she’ll be continuing for the foreseeable future.


We will be acknowledging these transitions at the synod assembly, taking time to give thanks and say farewell to those who are leaving the staff, and the entire synod staff will be installed at the opening worship on Thursday, June 1. We have been and continue to be blessed by the many gifts, skills, and passions of this staff, and I look forward to deepening and expanding our work with congregations and leaders as together we seek to be faithful to God’s mission in our congregations and communities.

© 2017 Greater Milwaukee Synod

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