December 1, 2021

There is a great need to support, nurture and care for Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) church workers. As the needs of the church grow and change, Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) adapts and develops solutions to walk alongside our ministry partners.

Grace Place Wellness Ministries has been a leader in church worker wellness education for over two decades, and has served thousands of LCMS church workers, leaders, and their families throughout the United States and worldwide. Their mission is to nurture vitality and joy in ministry by inspiring and equipping church workers to lead healthy lives.

LCEF and Grace Place Wellness are pleased to announce they signed of a Letter of Intent for the LCEF acquisition of Grace Place Wellness Ministries assets and mission, effective January 1, 2022.

Founded in 1999 by Dr. John Eckrich, MD, Grace Place Wellness Ministries accomplishes this mission by conducting retreats and conferences and by providing preventative wellness educational resources for all rostered church workers of the LCMS. Grace Place Wellness has hosted leadership retreats for Concordia University faculties and the LCMS Council of Presidents.

Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman, Executive Director of Grace Place Wellness says, “Because of Dr. Eckrich’s vision, thousands of God’s kingdom servants are flourishing in ministry, even in a time of tremendous anxiety. We’re thrilled this integration into LCEF will give greater impact to our ministry, and the resources of LCEF will enable us to expand the reach to more and more church workers each year.”

As a part of LCEF Ministry Solutions operations, Grace Place will continue to operate under the Grace Place Wellness name. Dr. Eckrich will continue in his advisory role with LCEF, and all currently employed Grace Place Wellness staff were retained in similar positions at LCEF.

LCEF has long been connected to every part of the church, from the Synod to the districts, and right down to the individual ministries and members that make up our church body. This unrivaled access and intimacy to the front lines of LCMS ministry have provided LCEF with a unique perspective to be the trusted partner in providing solutions that inspire ministry, innovation, and growth.

Out of this perspective, LCEF Ministry Solutions has developed into a first-in-class Lutheran consultation service with values and processes uniquely designed to engage our LCMS congregations, schools, and other ministries.

“The vision, mission and heart of Grace Place Wellness align perfectly with those of LCEF” says Grace Place founder, Dr. John Eckrich. “I strongly believe this innovative and collaborative expansion of capabilities and services will provide critical care to LCMS congregations and schools, districts, our church workers and their families.”

“After extensive conversation and consideration with Grace Place Wellness,” said Rev. Bart Day, LCEF president and CEO, “LCEF is excited to offer these expanded resources, services and support to our church workers. Church workers are our greatest gift. Assuring they are well supported and cared for means congregations, schools, and RSOs are healthy and growing ministry opportunities in their communities.”

LCEF, with its Grace Place Wellness mission, will continue to work with donors to expand and cultivate gifts in support of retreats and wellness resources for church workers. As a result, strong, healthy church workers will continue to help grow the reach of the LCMS across the world.