Who’s Who at the Gathering
There are an innumerable number of people who make the Gathering what it is. From Bible Study Leaders to Mass Event hosts, take a few minutes to get to know who will be guiding participants through their Gathering journey!
Mass Event Hosts
Deac. Noemí Guerra
Deaconess Noemí Guerra is a Latina from Panama City, Panama, who currently serves at Lutheran Hour Ministries and the Texas District. She received her Masters degrees in Systematic and Practical Theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Noemí likes singing and playing the guitar, playing with her 2 dogs, and watching TV series with her three children: Joash, Aaron, and Lizzie. She also likes traveling around the world with her husband, Rev. Lincon Guerra. Connect with Noemí on Facebook, Instagram (@noemiguerra14), and Snapchat (@noemiguerra14).
Pastor Zach Zehnder
Pastor Zach Zehnder is a husband, father, bestselling author, speaker, and 4th generation LCMS pastor. He’s passionate about helping people of all ages become greater followers of Jesus. You can read more of his story at www.redletterchallenge.com/zach. Connect with Zach on Facebook, Instagram (@redletterchallenge), and YouTube (Red Letter Living).
Bible Study Leaders
Blythe Barreto serves as College Counselor and Upper Level Theology Teacher at Lutheran High North in Houston, Texas. Her previous experience includes 4 years teaching and acting as “International Communications Director” for the Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Director of Christian Education (DCE) program at Concordia University Chicago, where she also completed her master’s in arts & religion with a thesis on “Lutheran Education under Communism.” She completed her DCE internship at Bethany Lutheran in Long Beach, California and attended Westfield House, a Cambridge University affiliate in the UK. She has traveled to almost 40 countries on 5 continents backpacking with her husband, Anthony. Since 2020 they have enjoyed being parents to two beautiful children.
Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling
Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling serves simultaneously as Assistant Professor of Leadership and Theology at Concordia University Texas and Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Bolling describes his four corners of interests as Ministry; Leadership; Diversity & Inclusion; and Online Education. His hobbies include reading, hosting a podcast, writing/speaking American Sign Language (ASL), growing Bonsai, spending time with family, and being completely and utterly burned by his wife’s witty yet charring comebacks. He is a 2012 B.A. graduate from Concordia University Chicago, a 2016 M.Div. graduate from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and a 2020 Doctoral graduate from Concordia University Wisconsin. He has been married to his beautiful, strong, and independent wife (Lorenda) for 8 years, and together they have a 5-year-old son (Lincoln) and a 3-year-old daughter (Monroe).
Sarah Crowder is passionate about sharing the gospel with freshmen students as a theology teacher at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas, NV. Sarah graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2000 and completed an M.A. in Theology with a focus on Reformation Studies from Concordia University Irvine in 2020. She has been married to her husband, Jason, for more than 21 years, and is the loving mother to Katie and Brendan. Sarah enjoys photography, music, video games, and creating video content on YouTube. One of her greatest achievements is finally reaching level 40 status on Pokémon GO.
Corey is the minister to youth and young adults at Redeemer Redwood City in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has a deep passion for helping people know, love, and follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Concordia University Chicago and recently graduated from Concordia University Irvine’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Center, with an M.A. in Theology and Culture. He grew up in North Carolina which is where his love for barbecue began. He is married to Madeline and they have a beautiful daughter, Mara.
Chad Janetzke teaches theology classes at Martin Luther High School near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The oldest of seven kids, Chad attended Lutheran schools in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. After graduating from Concordia University Wisconsin, he taught at Lutheran schools in Minnesota and Texas, before arriving at Martin Luther. Chad met his wife, Erin, at the 2001 LCMS Youth Gathering in New Orleans, where they were both college age volunteers. He is the proud father of three daughters, Maddie (17), Emma (16), and Lilly (13). When he isn’t teaching or coaching, he loves to play Bags (aka “Cornhole”), strum guitar, play video games, make guest appearances on his daughters’ Snapchats or Tik Toks, and hang out with friends and family.
Rev. Gabe Kasper
Gabe is Lead Pastor at University Lutheran Chapel at the University of Michigan. Prior to his current role, he spent five years as a church planter in Austin, TX. His passion for preaching and teaching has led him to speak across the country on a variety of theological and cultural topics. He is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Eastern Michigan University. In his spare time, Gabe enjoys soccer, reading books, listening to punk rock, and co-hosting the Pint Glass Preachers Podcast. He and his wife Melissa have 3 great kids.
Rev. Dave McGinley
Dave is married to Gretchen, and they have three kids: Malachi, Raelynn, and Romy. He loves his family, pizza, working out, shoes, reading, pickleball, and meeting new people. In all of these, he tries to glorify and honor Jesus. He is inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words on the Christian’s most important duty being listening because if he cannot listen to his neighbor, why would he listen to God? Dave is the Senior Pastor at the Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens located in St. Louis, MO.
Shelly Schwalm is a DCE (Director of Christian Education) who serves as University Ministry Associate at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. She enjoys teaching and walking with students, attempting to make sense of life and faith amidst ups and downs; and seeing the kindness of Jesus in it all. After growing up in northeast Kansas, and serving a year with the ministry, Youth Encounter, Shelly moved to the Twin Cities for college and still loves calling it home. She is a double alum from CSP with her DCE degree and a Master’s in Creative Writing. She enjoys music, exploring the city, and anything adventurous or outdoors (yes, even in the winter!). “Auntie” is one of her favorite names.
Emilie Stooksbury lives in Knoxville, TN with her hubs who she loves and her cat with whom she has a complicated relationship. After graduating as a DCE from Concordia Texas in 2014 (woosh!) she now serves both as Communication Coordinator for The Point Lutheran Church and as co-owner of New2Knox, an adorable small business helping new Knoxvillians connect with their city and each other. She likes her coffee black, her environment aesthetic, and her puns frequent.
Deac. Sylvia Witt
Sylvia is a toy cleaning, meal making, clothes laundering-child whisperer with an educational background in music and theology. She holds graduate degrees in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Music and Medicine (Master of Music, University of North Texas ‘07) and Theology with a certificate in Deaconess Studies (Master of Theology, Concordia St. Louis ‘13). She has served as a guest speaker on topics including Vocal Fold Health, City Ministry, and Prayer for audiences ranging from academia to summer camp. She is happily married to her first date (Lucas) and together they are blessed with an awesome library and four children (aged 7, 5, 3, and 1). They reside in a shoe-shaped house in Baltimore, Maryland.