Wendland was born in New Orleans, La. and grew up in Jackson, Miss., in a Lutheran home. He grew up attending Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Clinton, Miss.
• He currently attends Living Faith Lutheran Church in Cumming, Ga.
• He received his Bachelor’s degree in Marketing at the University of Southern Mississippi.
• He has been married to his lovely wife, Deborah, since 2011.
While attending Living Faith, he served as Treasurer and as a congregational LCEF advocate. In 2012, he was elected to the Florida-Georgia District Board of Directors as a Region One Lay Representative. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer of Stepping Stone Mission, an LCMS RSO.
He has a servant’s heart and is looking forward to making a difference as the District Vice President of the Florida-Georgia District.
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Greg joined LCEF’s Grace Place Wellness in Fall of 2022. He now oversees all aspects of Grace Place Wellness Ministries, which is a part of Ministry Solutions at LCEF. Having served for 13 years as the district president of the Florida-Georgia District, he has a commitment to assisting church workers in the LCMS excel in their callings throughout their entire careers. In his role, he will work to integrate wellness into other areas of LCEF to identify, coordinate and share resources that positively impact the lives of professional church workers and ministries in the LCMS.
Walton has spent most of his life on the East Coast, having grown up in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. He attended Concordia College, which was in Bronxville, NY, where he met his wife, Edith. He graduated with his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1987 and served 22 years as a parish pastor in Toccoa, Georgia, and Marietta, Georgia, before being elected to the office of District President for the Florida-Georgia District. In his parish years Greg was deeply involved in community ventures, served as a circuit visitor and then a district vice president.
An ardent supporter of church worker wellness and Grace Place Wellness and as district president he sponsored a number of retreats in the FLGA district, assisting and encouraging workers in their personal wellbeing. Supporting and advocating for church workers and their family has long been a passion for Greg.
As his term-limited time as district president came to an end in August 2022, Walton joined LCEF and Grace Place Wellness to replace retiring director, Darrell Zimmerman, who was instrumental in developing wellness retreats for couples, ministry staffs and congregations. Greg will pick up the mantle, try to fit into the large shoes vacated by Darrell and explore new areas of ministry for Grace Place Wellness as we look to the future.
Greg and Edith live in Woodstock, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and are in close proximity to their two children and six grandchildren. He is excited to serve the church in this new role.
Dr. Eckrich founded Grace Place Wellness Ministries in 1999. He’s also the author of several books on wellness, ministry and Christian living.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, John attended Lutheran schools as a child, graduating from Lutheran High School South. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri. He finished his medical training at the University of Chicago as a fellow in gastroenterology and hepatology.
Dr. John served the St. Louis community for over 40 years as a practicing internist and gastroenterologist. He had the unique opportunity to care for hundreds of Lutheran church workers and their families, including seminary professors, students and many leaders at the LCMS International Center.
During his early career, John observed the effects of stress and challenges of ministry on personal and family life. He gathered other professionals to examine and develop health skills and strategies to proactively address the rising tide of church worker burnout and ill-health.
Their findings led John to found Grace Place Wellness Ministries, now having served over 10,000 church workers and families through Grace Place Wellness retreats.
His books include:
John lives in the St. Louis area with his wife, Kathy. They have three grown children and two grandchildren. Dr. John spends as much time with his grandkids as possible.
Darrell oversaw all aspects of Grace Place Wellness Ministries from the fall of 2012 until June 2023. His passion remains helping ministry workers across the entire spectrum of Christianity excel in their callings for their whole careers.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Darrell graduated with his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1982. He served 30 years as a parish pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, and Saginaw, Michigan. He is a trained intentional interim minister in the LCMS.
He and his wife, Carol, attended the first Grace Place Wellness retreat in the fall of 2000, then began leading retreats in Grace Place Wellness’ earlier years. He also earned his Doctor of Ministry in 2006. He was instrumental in developing the Ministry Team Wellness Retreat. In December 2019, he became interim president and CEO and served until the acquisition by LCEF, when he took on the role of vice president of Ministry Solutions, director of Grace Place Wellness. After almost 11 wonderful years leading Grace Place Wellness, Darrell retired in June 2023.
Darrell and Carol live just a few short miles from their three children and four grandchildren in the St. Louis area. In retirement, he looks forward to spending time with them, woodworking and playing lots of golf. We are grateful for his contribution to Grace Place Wellness.
Coaching professional church workers in creating their sabbatical experience is one of the most rewarding things I do. My coaching training was through Valwood Certified Coaches (2002- 2008). George Bullard, Jane Creswell, and Linda Miller, along with other coaches, conducted this training. In addition to coaching pastors in planning sabbaticals, I also coach church workers who are in transition or conflict situations.
My journey in ministry is an interesting one. In college, I studied Advertising and Sales Management at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. During my summers in college, I sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door, which was also an educational experience.
The influence of my campus pastor led me to consider seminary training and I graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill., in 1971. My first call was to begin a mission congregation in Fort Myers, Fla. I pastored there until 1979 and assisted in two building campaigns and self-support status for the congregation.
From 1979 to 1985, I served as senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Delray Beach, Fla., and from 1986 to 1993, I was senior pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church and School in Charlotte, N.C.
In 1993, I joined the staff of the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod as a Mission and Ministry Facilitator deployed to work with congregations in North and South Carolina. I helped direct mission partnerships and served as a conflict consultant to the District President.
Since 2002, I have continued ministry as a consultant to congregations and pastors. I participate in conflict intervention, peacemaking and coaching professional church workers in times of change and conflict. As a Staff Associate for Wheat Ridge Ministries (now We Raise Foundation), I managed its Sabbatical Resource Center, which became this website in 2018.
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