Small group workshop presenters

Prof. Hannah Scharf, Prof. Lori Unke,
Prof. Martin Santos, Prof. Ted Klug
& Pastor Joel Thomford


Have you given deep thought to your future vocation or career? Do you want to serve Jesus in whatever career path you serve in? Do you plan to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker? Whatever your “vocation destination,” finding joy in serving Jesus is something we all look forward to. Martin Luther College’s representatives will share some fun stories and encouragements in whatever vocation you consider. They will share how each of them has been able to share the brightness of the Son with others on their “vocationtime” through their role in the public ministry.


Small group workshop presenters

Pastor Andy Westra


There are more than 200 Christian denominations in the United States. The question has to be asked: Why are you a Lutheran? Because your parents are? Because you attended a Lutheran school? Hopefully all of us can answer this question on a deeper level, but does it really matter what denomination someone belongs to? This workshop will answer these questions by giving five reasons NOT to be a Lutheran. God willing, you will leave this workshop cherishing the fact that you are a Lutheran.

Pastor Andy Westra is a pastor and home missionary at Christ Our Refuge Lutheran Church in Waco, Texas, where he was assigned in 2021. His first assignment out of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary was to serve as a tutor at Luther Preparatory School in 2019, so he has a love for working with teens and helping them cherish their status as blood-bought children of God and Lutherans.

Michelle Cummings - WELS Youth Rally 2024

Leadership workshop presenter

Michelle Cummings


This lively, interactive workshop will teach effective communication and relationship skills through fun teambuilding activities. Even Jesus built a team of 12! Participants will explore icebreakers, collaborative games, and problem-solving tasks that nurture group dynamics and respect for others’ perspectives. This workshop is ideal for anyone wanting to learn interactive activities they can use to foster deeper relationships and enhance communication skills, promote personal growth, and enhance teamwork. Come prepared to participate and play! Explore, grow, and connect in this dynamic teambuilding workshop.

Michelle Cummings is the Big Wheel & founder of Training Wheels, a known leader in the teambuilding field, and CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Personify Leadership. She is an accomplished author and sought-after speaker and consultant in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and experiential learning. Michelle has created a variety of teambuilding activities and leadership programs that have collectively changed the way trainers work. She and her family are members of Living Savior Lutheran Church in Littleton, Colo.

Luke Thompson with wife Christine - WELS Youth Rally 2024

Leadership workshop presenter

Professor Luke & Christine Thompson


Our young adults are still in the midst of a pandemic, but it’s not COVID. It’s loneliness. Loneliness has skyrocketed. Young adults have fewer friends than previous generations, paired with deep doubts about the Christian church. Join us as we’ll explore one model for meeting both the needs of the hearts and heads of young adults.

Luke Thompson taught philosophy at Wisconsin Lutheran College and Bethany Lutheran College before becoming a pastor in WELS. He served eight years in Ottawa, Ontario, as a pastor, where he ministered to government workers, immigrants, and university students. For over 20 years, he has worked with campus ministries. He now teaches at Martin Luther College.

Christine has worked alongside Luke in campus ministries for many years and has also served the church as a youth and family coordinator. She now collaborates with creatives and nonprofits to develop Christian resources and publications and is also the developing editor for

Jaspersen Skorenkyi workshop no longer available.

Small group workshop presenter

Abby Skorenkyi & Maida Jaspersen


The workshop has reached capacity and is no longer available for selection.

Attendees will collaborate to produce a large hand-painted banner. You will dive into how to increase your technical artistic skills. Abby Skorenkyi and Maida Jaspersen will discuss the role of creativity in Christianity and how to apply your skills to your faith. Your skills do not need to be specifically geared toward the project we are carrying out. Whether you have an interest in metal working, basket weaving, crocheting, drawing, or stained glass, we will discover how to channel these interests and use them for our Creator. No prior painting skills necessary!

Abby Skorenkyi is a recent Studio Art and Education graduate from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn. She specializes in large-scale oil paintings and teaches at the high school level. To see her work, visit

Maida Jaspersen is a recent Studio Art graduate from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn. She specializes in mixed media illustration and bookbinding. To see her work, visit

Small group workshop presenter

Pastor Paul Biedenbender


One of the most beautiful truths we cling to is who we are in Christ. The identity of being loved, being treasured, having belonging, never being alone, and so much more empowers us with peace, security, and joy. It also empowers us to view others differently. The same value in Christ we see in ourselves is the lens we use to see others. This workshop will challenge and equip you to see the value in others by taking a look at the real-life case of a mission congregation in the middle of Denver, the Venezuelan migrants knocking on their doors, and how God has blessed this compassion ministry effort on so many levels.

Pastor Paul Biedenbender has served at Christ Lutheran Church in Denver since his assignment from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2005. The congregation offers worship and Bible studies in both English and Spanish with much of its outreach coming through community service projects. Paul and his wife, Teresa, are blessed with four children—Jazmine, Camila, Emma, and TJ.

Small group workshop presenter

Rachel Greiner


Who am I? Why am I here? We all wonder. Learn how to be real and use your gifts for God. Get ready for an interactive workshop with games, videos, and stories.

Rachel Greiner strives to live the motto “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Her pro-life experience and passion for empowering others lead her to speak to groups across the U.S. and in South America; she’s also been featured on national radio. Rachel is a director at Christian Life Resources. To get her attention, just mention food.

Pastor Dan Rodewald and Ben Dose

Small group workshop presenters

Pastor Dan Rodewald & Ben Dose


Pastor Dan Rodewald Ben Dose

The nationwide debate over LGBTQ+ issues most often treats the topic as exactly that—issues to be solved. While the Bible is clear on God’s intent for gender and sexuality, this biblical truth presents real challenges today for real people who have real stories and real pain. Jesus really cares about these folks, and he speaks to them with profound relief and hope. Come join us to hear a pastor and a same-sex attracted Christian who struggles with and, by God’s grace, continues to fight through his faith in Christ. They will reflect on the unique challenges that come with gender/sexuality questions, what the gospel means to the LGBTQ+ community, and how the church can better approach these conversations with Christlike love and integrity.

Pastor Dan Rodewald serves as pastor of Paradise Valley Lutheran in Phoenix, Ariz. As a younger millennial, he’s had a front-row seat to rapidly changing cultural views on sexuality and gender.

Ben Dose is a Seattle-based designer who has been speaking for five+ years about his personal experiences with same-sex attraction growing up in WELS.

Dan and Ben are both members of the new WELS Committee on Identity, Gender, and Sexuality, which creates resources and support channels for people with questions about identity, gender, sexuality, and faith.

Small group workshop presenters

Pastor Tim Spiegelberg


“Community isn’t so much found or discovered as it’s built.” In a post-Christian world, how can we see ourselves as missionaries, builders, and entrepreneurs? In this workshop you’ll gain an understanding of what it takes to build real relationships within churches, communities, and in your own mission spheres.

Pastor Tim Spiegelberg has 20 years of experience building community and being engaged in communities that range from rural to urban to suburban. He has been a missionary in North Branch, Mich.; Toronto, Canada; and currently in Firestone, Colo. Pastor Spiegelberg’s most recent congregation was a new church plant in a growing suburb of Denver. He is married to Jamie and has four children ages 16-22.

Small group workshop presenter

Shawn Herkstroeter


Facing the challenges and difficulties of teen life shouldn’t get you down! Move from surviving teen life to thriving by being the BALL! All participants will receive a beloved BOUNCY BALL as we discuss how it models spiritual, emotional, and physical resilience. In addition, participants will create a personal resilience plan that will help them dominate each day as we honor God with intentional living.

Shawn Herkstroeter has 26 years of school leadership ministry experience and currently serves as principal at Faith Lutheran School in Fond du Lac, Wis. He is also a part-time resiliency leadership coach for Grace in Action and a lead consultant for Blueprint Schools. Shawn holds a Master of Science in Education. He strives to love his wife and children like Jesus does and enjoys working out, coaching basketball, hunting, and spending time with his bird dog, Bella.