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The Rev. Susan Candea

Bishop of Central States Synod - ELCA

The Rev. David Whetter

Bishop's Associate

Dave was ordained in 2007 and served as Associate Pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kansas (2007-2009) and as Pastor at Salem Church in Lenexa, Kansas (2009-2019).  Prior to being ordained, Dave spent 20 years in a business career.  In his role on synod staff, Dave has primary responsibilities for Mobility (congregations in rostered leader transitions), Candidacy, First Call Theological Education, and Leadership Development. 


Dave and his wife, Jill, live in De Soto, Kansas.  They have three grown children and six grandchildren.  They love spending time with their family; however, they also love being “empty nesters.”  In their free time, Dave and Jill love to spoil their grandchildren, travel, and cook creative meals at home together.


The Rev. Donna Simon

Director for Evangelical Mission



As half-time Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM), Donna's primary responsibilities include shepherding congregations under formation and accompanying congregations undergoing intentional renewal. She loves to see what God can do in the midst of people formed for mission. Donna also serves as pastor of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, in the heart of Kansas City, MO.


The Rev. Aimée Appell

Director for Evangelical Mission

Pastor Aimée was ordained in 2010 and serves Peace Lutheran in Washington, MO. She has helped the congregation grow into community leaders as a congregation “Bound by Christ, to Break Boundaries.” Together, they have spearheaded several initiatives to build inclusion and dialogue in their community, including Vacation Culture School, Stories Matter, a local Juneteenth celebration, and community book discussions. In 2017, she received the Humanitarian Award from Church Women United of Franklin County. In 2018, she and her congregation received the Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Foundation.


When not focusing on her call, she can be found spending time with family, knitting, crocheting, reading, or gardening. Mother to four wonderful children – Elinor, Holden, Grace, and Abby (as well as three dogs, two cats, a snake, and a gecko), she and husband Nelson, who is the director of the Washington Public Library, have been married since March, 2000.


Mr. Rich Gates

Synod Administrator

Rich serves the synod with responsibilities for office management; maintaining the roster; data custodianship, reporting, and analysis; coordination and planning for Synod Assembly, Fall Theological Conference, and other special events; liaising with bookkeeping and financial reporting; supportive assistance for candidacy and first call; and, administrative assistance to the bishop and other synod staff.

Rich completed a Master of Divinity at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and was ordained in 2010, serving a first call as pastor of First Lutheran Church in Chariton, Iowa, and Christ the Servant Lutheran Ministry in Corydon, Iowa. His wife, Amy, accepted a tenure-track position at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, in 2016. After moving to Joplin, Rich began serving Peace Lutheran Church as a synod authorized minister in 2018. Prior to being ordained, Rich’s career included work as a church business administrator, programmer and controller for an agricultural seed company, and analyst/researcher/manager for a career guidance company.

Rich is an avid adult fan of LEGO, loves exploring new geographies, and enjoys reading mystery, fantasy, and science fiction novels in his leisure time.


Mr. Tim Anderson

Director of Communications

Tim serves as support staff, providing information and technology resources to Synod congregations through the Synod website, email newsletters, social media, and mobile applications.


The Rev. Adam Wutka

Director of Lay Ministry

Adam has been serving congregations in central Kansas since his ordination in 2005, and is currently the pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Great Bend, KS. He joined the synod's PMA Team in 2017, having worked closely with several Parish Ministry Associates (PMAs) and Synod Authorized Ministers (SAMs) over the years in the Western Kansas Conference. In that time, he has also facilitated and co-facilitated several educational courses for PMA students through Bethany House of Studies and through the ELCA's Select Learning program. Adam joined the synod staff in 2020 as the part-time Director of Lay Ministry, overseeing the synod's PMA program and PMA Team, coordinating the use of PMAs and SAMs across the synod with the Bishop and her staff, and communicating with his lay ministry counterparts in other synods and educational institutions as the concept of authorized lay ministry continues to develop across the church.


Mr. Jerry Johnson

Mission Investment Fund Area Representative



Jerry has represented MIF across the Southern, Southeastern, and Eastern states for 17 years.  As a lifelong Lutheran, Jerry has served in leadership roles for his congregation and synod.  He brings a keen understanding of church operations as well as a passion for assisting synods and congregations with the investments and loans that can help grow ministry. 


Ms. Jennifer Prinz

Regional Representative, Portico Services

As the Portico regional representative for ELCA Region 5 and the Central States Synod, Jennifer focuses on establishing and maintaining excellent member and sponsor relationships.  Some of this is done by facilitating workshops at synod assemblies, meeting with senior seminary students, first call Pastors and Deacons, large employers, and Jennifer annually meets with all of the 13 synods’ Bishop and their staff in her region.  She brings her gifts and deep passion for the well-being of the church’s leaders to this role.


A life-long Lutheran, Jennifer was born and raised in Overland Park.  She has more than 25 years of communications and relationship-building experience, in both faith-based, universities, and health care organizations.  Previously, she worked as a gift planner for the ELCA Foundation, serving the state of Illinois. Prior to that, Jennifer was Director of Professional Development at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.


Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  She resides in Waverly, Iowa, where her husband is an ELCA Pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School. 

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