Rev. Dr. Gregory S. Walton

Gregory Walton

Vice President, Grace Place Wellness

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.

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Our Vision

To see professional church workers, with help from their congregations, engage in preventive self-care attitudes and practices to ensure a long, flourishing and productive ministry career.

Grace Place Wellness was founded in 1999 by John D. Eckrich, M.D., an internist and gastroenterologist, who has provided integrated health care to many pastors, teachers, seminarians and their families for more than 35 years.

In his medical practice in St. Louis, Dr. Eckrich was astounded at the number of stress-related illnesses among Lutheran church workers.

In response to the burnout, he was treating in church professionals, he envisioned a program of teaching preventive self-care disciplines to keep workers healthy. He understood that if workers were not joyful, vigorous and balanced in their own body, mind and spirit, they could not effectively and abundantly serve the people placed in their care.

Dr. Eckrich and his pastoral care colleagues have now served thousands of Lutheran church workers, leaders and their families in hundreds of retreats throughout America and in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Following in Dr. Eckrich’s footsteps, our retreat leaders have taken Grace Place Wellness programming to every region of the country and worldwide through overseas missionary family retreats.

Offered initially for pastors and their wives, Grace Place Wellness Retreats are now open to all workers in the church.

Specialized retreats have been offered for singles, DCEs, musicians, parish nurses and deaconesses. The LCMS Council of Presidents and Concordia University faculties have also participated in Grace Place Wellness retreats and programs.

If you are interested in a Grace Place retreat, connect with your district president. Your district president will work with Grace Place Wellness VP Greg Walton to arrange retreats.

At Grace Place Wellness Ministries, we believe that healthy leaders lead healthy congregations and that healthy congregations encourage and support healthy leaders.

When pastor and people are together experiencing life in the body of Christ the way the Lord has intended it (see Ephesians 4), God is glorified and congregations fulfill their calling to share the saving love of Jesus.

Just as church workers are caregivers, congregations are also called to include their pastors and other servants of the Word in their ongoing work of mutual love and care. As St. Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:11–12, NIV)

Our vision is that congregations would be places of mutual encouragement and care between the called workers and the members of the church so that together they might reach out in love and service to their communities.

Grace Place Wellness is a preventive wellness ministry that seeks to positively impact the ministry of Christian congregations by encouraging workers in the church to lead the rich and full lives that Jesus intends for all of His children.

Now a part of LCEF, our staff has become popular presenters at professional church worker conferences on a wide range of topics related to church worker wellness.

Our Core Values

Healthy Churches

Grace Place works with congregations to help them understand the value in caring for their workers. Healthy churches are God’s design for His mission on earth. The scriptures offer description and prescription for the baptismal, spiritual, relational, intellectual, emotional, vocational, physical and financial wellness of local congregations. Healthy churches face fewer obstacles to ministry and display the work of God in their unity and service.

(Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 4)

Intentional Self-Care

Professional church workers at their best are willing and able to practice daily and weekly self-care for the wellbeing of self and family. Joyful, healthy church workers offer more creative, vibrant ministry to those they serve and lead. Grace Place Wellness supports them by nurturing vitality and joy in ministry, inspiring and equipping church workers to lead healthy lives.

(John 14-17; Ephesians 4)

Healthy Church Workers

Healthy professional church workers are essential for healthy churches. The wellness of churches and their called workers are of mutual benefit to each other. The wellness of professional church workers is enhanced by healthy congregations, which are better served when their called workers are at their best, baptismally, spiritually, relationally, intellectually, emotionally, vocationally, physically and financially.

(1 Timothy 3; Titus 1)

Daily Renewal

Daily renewal in grace provides substantial healing for the wounds of life in ministry. Professional church workers often encounter obstacles to wellness due to the demands and expectations of their calling. Wise church workers are first receptive to the Holy Spirit’s gifts of grace for their own healing before administering those gifts to others.

(2 Timothy 3-4; 1 Kings 19)

Founder & Executive Vice Chair

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Retired Executive Director

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