Synod Staff


Rev. Joy Mortensen-Wiebe
(608) 270-0201

Bishop Joy Mortensen-Wiebe was elected in 2020 to serve as bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin-ELCA. Bishop Joy is returning to our synod after previously serving as our Interim Director for Evangelical Mission in 2018 and as an intentional interim pastor at First Lutheran Church in Beaver Dam in 2017. She most recently served as pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Slinger, Wis.. Previously she served several Wisconsin churches including St. Paul in Mayville, Living Hope in Saukville, All Saints in Oshkosh; and Grace in Tomahawk. Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe also served as Associate to the Bishop in the East Central Synod of Wisconsin from 2004-2014 and as pastor chaplain of Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh Inc.

Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe received a Bachelor of Science degree from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., in 1988, a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in 1992, and a Master of Education degree from Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wis., in 2004. Bishop Mortensen-Wiebe is married to the Rev. Darin Wiebe and they have two daughters, Elida and Julia.


Rev. Walter Baires
Associate to the Bishop, Director for Evangelical Mission
(608) 270-0201

Rev. Walter Baires serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission and Associate to the Bishop.  He was called to this position in April, 2019 and started in the office on May 1, 2019. Rev. Baires was ordained in the Lutheran Church of El Salvador in 1994. He graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1993. He served as associate pastor at Resurrection Lutheran in San Salvador, director of the Sister Parish Program, and vice-president of the Salvadoran Lutheran Synod.  Beginning in 2001, he began serving as co-pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church, a multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his time at Ascension he also has served as vice-president of the Latino Ethnic Association of the ELCA, coordinator of the Synodical Latino Strategy and member of the ELCA Latino Strategy monitoring team. Rev. Baires is married to Elizabeth, an ELCA pastor currently serving as bridge pastor at Saint Luke Lutheran in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Their children are Atzin (31), Itzel (29), and Walter Jr. (27).


Rev. Peter Beeson
Associate to the Bishop for Generosity
(608) 270-0201

Peter began serving on synod staff as Associate to the Bishop for Generosity in September 2021.  He is reachable on Wednesdays and checking email and telephone messages during that time.  He is also available for evening appointments, Sunday stewardship visits, and looks forward to being with congregations and conferences in our synod to preach, teach, listen, and talk about stewardship and God’s generosity.  Peter will be continuing to serve as pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Madison, where he was called in 2018.

Peter previously served St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoboken, NJ where he was on the Fiscal Management, Administration, and Property Committee for the New Jersey Synod. Prior to that he was on the staff of Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington DC where he served on the Stewardship & Mission Support Table for the Metro DC Synod.  In his former life he worked in technology project management in higher ed and is excited to have his loves of stewardship, real estate, and celebrating God’s generosity come together to resource congregations in our synod to use all our assets for building the Kingdom of God.  Peter and his family live in Madison, where they’ve fallen in love with the lakes and nature spaces.


Rev. Jen Christenson
Associate to the Bishop for Communication & Relationship
(608) 270-0201

Rev. Jen Christenson joined the synod staff as the Associate to the Bishop for Communication and Relationship in February 2022. Her primary focus is helping to share the story of our ministry together in the South Central Synod of Wisconsin. Jen has been an ordained pastor in the ELCA for 20 years, and most recently served with Christus Lutheran in Greenville, Wis.


Marie Leafblad
Associate to the Bishop for Leadership Support
(608) 270-0201

Marie joined the Synod Staff in March 2021 as Associate to the Bishop for Leadership Support with primary responsibilities in mobility, relational networking, care of congregations, and youth and family ministries. Marie is a graduate of Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a Masters in Global and Contextual Studies (2013) and North Park University with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies and World Religions (2008). After years of serving in Baptist and Non-Denominational churches, Marie moved to the ELCA in November 2015 when she started on staff of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Slinger, Wisconsin, as their Youth and Family Director. Prior to her call to St. Luke, Marie was general manager at Barley Johns Brew Pub. She still claims it is “the best church she’s ever served.” Marie has plenty of international experience working with disaster relief, orphanage care, organizations and businesses in Nepal, Kenya, Haiti, and Guatemala. She acts as a Discipling Peer Coach with the ELCA, mentoring others in youth ministry.

Rev. Jason Poole-Xiong
Contract Staff
(608) 362-0716, ext. 104

Jason serves as the content manager for our synod website and YouTube channel along with other digital media communications. Currently, he is serving also in an interim role assisting with special projects within the synod office including the planning and registration for Bishop’s Convocation. Jason graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2020 and serves concurrently as Associate Pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Beloit, WI.

Becky Johnson
Contract Staff – Accountant/Financial Consultant
(608) 270-0201

Becky Johnson serves as our Synod Accountant and consultant on our financials working alongside our elected Synod Treasurer. She handles all accounts payable and prepares our financial statements.