Synod Staff

Rev. Rogness

Rev. Peter Rogness
Interim Bishop
(608) 270-0201

Presiding Bishop Eaton appointed Rev. Peter Rogness as the Interim Bishop for the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. His appointment was affirmed by the Synod Council and he began serving on September 26, 2019.

Bishop Rogness is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  Upon graduation he served two Milwaukee parishes, the longest being ten years at Hephatha Lutheran Church. In 1985 he was elected bishop of the Southern Wisconsin District of the former America Lutheran Church, with offices in Madison. With the advent of the ELCA in 1988, he served as bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod for the maximum three terms, until 2002. That year he was elected bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod, where he served until his retirement in 2014. Since that time, he has served two interim positions in international English speaking congregations related to the ELCA, first in Oslo, Norway, and most recently in Bratislava, Slovakia.  Peter and his wife Gerry have four adult children and four grandchildren. They reside in St. Paul, when they’re not at their lake cabin in northern Minnesota.


Rev. Steve Kottke
Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership Support
(608) 270-0201

Rev. Steve Kottke joined the Synod Staff as Assistant to the Bishop on June 1, 2014, with primary responsibilities in the areas of mobility, care of congregations, and youth and young adult ministries. Rev. Kottke is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has served Grace Lutheran Church in Dodgeville for the past twelve years. Along with his call to Grace, he has also volunteered with several teams benefiting Dodgeville and Iowa County. Believing the call to ministry is also a call to the greater Church, Steve has been active in various capacities for our Synod, including Synod Council, Synod Executive Committee and Conference Dean. He completed Mediation Skills Training through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, and has served on the Synod conflict management team. Steve and his wife, Jennifer, live in Dodgeville, and are the parents of 3 adult children.


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

Rev. Walter Baires serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant 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).


Deacon Vicki Hanrahan
Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Support
(608) 270-0201

Deacon Hanrahan currently serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life. Vicki supports our congregations by working with rostered and lay leadership through conference work, by resourcing through the synod’s help desk and Speaker’s Bureau, and by equipping leaders through event management of the annual Synod Assembly, LEAD, and Bishop’s Convocation. She loves the day of the event when we all gather for capacity-building and conversation and then leave equipped and excited for God’s work! Vicki is also passionate about communicating where God is at work in the world in, among, and through Lutherans of our congregations, campus ministries, partners and worshiping communities in south-central Wisconsin and produces the weekly e-newsletter, What Matters. 

Deacon Hanrahan joined the synod staff in January of 2008.  She received a BA in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin and is a 2009 graduate of the synod’s Lay School of Ministry.  She continued her education and was ordained as a deacon in 2016. Prior to serving on synod staff, Vicki spent the first 20 years of her career in the teleconferencing industry keeping people virtually connected.  Similarly, she finds keeping people in our synod connected to each other and to the greater church the most exciting aspect of her work. “Together, we can accomplish so much more than what we do alone; I’ve seen us do some amazing things that really do matter as we strive to serve our brothers and sisters in Jesus’ name.”  Over the past 25 years, she has also served in several leadership roles in her congregation as council president, and chair of several committees including Stewardship, Church in Society, Public Relations, God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday and co-chair of their capitol campaign.  She brings this breadth of congregational experience to her work with our synod’s worshipping communities.


Robyn Zimmerman
Director of Operations & Executive Assistant to the Bishop
(608) 270-0201

Robyn is our Director of Operations and Executive Assistant to the Bishop. She works with the Bishop’s calendaring, candidacy, mobility, mission support, volunteer management and a myriad of other duties as required in a busy synod office. Robyn comes to us with over 30 years of Administrative and Hospitality experience. Before coming to work at the synod she spent eleven years serving at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Madison & Verona as Director of First Impressions, Worship Assistant, and Office Manager. Robyn is an active volunteer at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and finds great joy in being able to help others. Robyn and her husband, Kris, live in Madison and have two sons – Bryan and Aaron. She is very excited to be sharing her gifts and is looking forward to growing with the Synod and ELCA in the years to come.

Care Connect Equip

Becky Johnson
Financial Secretary & 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.

Jason Xiong Web

Jason Poole-Xiong, MDiv
Web Manager & Technology Consultant
(847) 893-9226 – Mobile

Jason serves as the content manager for our synod website. He also assists the synod office and congregations with technology resources including digital worship.