Bishop Brian Maas

Bishop

Bio
Brian Maas is a child of the Nebraska Synod, having been nurtured in the faith at Christ Lutheran Church in Pierce. He is a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University, Yale Divinity School and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His preparation for ministry included an internship at Sinai Lutheran Church in Fremont, Nebraska. Ordained in 1992, he has served Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tekamah, Nebraska; Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri; and First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was elected Bishop in 2012 and re-elected in 2018. He lives in Omaha with his wife Debbie, a therapist in private practice. Their adult children are Nathan and Becca.

Assistants to the Bishop - Mobility & Call Process Team

Juliet Focken
Rev. Juliet Focken

Assistant to the Bishop

Bio
Juliet Focken is a life-long Lutheran that grew up in the eastern United States and did undergraduate and graduate work in Special Education. After teaching Special Education at a private boarding school near NYC she moved to Gettysburg to attend seminary. She did her First Call in Genoa, NE and now works with 80 ELCA congregations in eastern NE as one of four Assistants to the Bishop for the Nebraska Synod. On staff her three areas of priority are congregational relations, call process, and First Call Theological Education. She lives in Elkhorn with her husband and three sons.
Areas of responsibility
Call Process / Mobility, Serving the Elkhorn Valley, Fremont Area, Metro East, and Metro West Clusters, First Call Theological Education, Systems Thinking, Pastoral Care
Megan Morrow
Rev. Megan Morrow

Assistant to the Bishop

Bio
Megan Morrow grew up in Lincoln challenged by the questions, “How does God want me to serve others?” and “What role does God want me to play in the Body of Christ?” The questions led her to degrees in Music Education and Music Therapy while active in Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Kansas, then to seminary at Luther in St. Paul. She served her internship in Philadelphia, PA, and three calls in Nebraska prior to coming on the synod staff in 2014. Helping people and congregations hear God’s grace in Christ for them, discover their gifts and discern how God desires them to serve others is foundational to Pastor Megan’s call.
Areas of responsibility
Call Process/Mobility, Serving the Corridor, Homestead, Lincoln Area, Prairie and Rolling Hills Clusters, Essential Boundaries Training, Pastoral Care
Rev. Jon Mapa

Assistant to the Bishop

Bio
Rev. Mapa has most recently served as Pastor of American Lutheran Church in Gothenburg, and has been serving as Dean of the Pony Express Cluster and as a member of the Nebraska Synod Council. He is married to Rev. Carol Mapa, Administrator of the PMA program. They will be living in North Platte.
Areas of responsibility
Mobility and Call Processes, Serving central and western Nebraska, including the Central Southern Prairie, Loup-Platte, Panhandle, Pony Express, Tumbleweed, and Two Rivers Clusters, Pastoral Care
Rev. Kristen Van Stee

Assistant to the Bishop

Bio
Kristen Van Stee graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia in 2007 with majors in History and Spanish. She graduated from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia South Carolina in 2011. She was ordained September 21st, 2013 and served as the pastor of Christ’s Lutheran Church in Davenport and St. James Lutheran Church in Edgar until 2017. She served as half-time Associate Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Wayne Nebraska from 2017-2020. She has been serving as a half-time Assistant to the Bishop for Mobility and Congregational Care for Northeast Nebraska since 2017.
Areas of responsibility
Call Process/Mobility, Serving the Northeast and Lewis & Clark clusters

Discipleship Team

Lisa Kramme

Director for Faith Formation

Bio
Lisa Kramme serves as the Director for Faith Formation, supporting and connecting congregations in their work of growing disciples of all ages, from babies to elders. Lisa also coordinates volunteer teams for synod-wide ministries like the Lutheran Youth of Nebraska (LYON) Assembly, the Middle School Gathering, the Journey, and the Sow the Seeds Initiative. She is a certified spiritual director and a storyteller and loves hearing the stories of others. Lisa lives in Fremont with her husband Keith. They have two young adult children, a son-in-law, a grandson, and a dog—Mattie, Jesse, Taylor, Isaiah and Owen.
Areas of responsibility
Faith Formation of all ages, Synod-wide faith formation events, Sow the Seeds Initiative
Deacon Sunni Richardson

Director for Leadership Development

Bio
Leading started in third grade when Sunni became the unofficial captain of the Buttercup softball team. Thanks to wise mentors, strong role models and opportunities she has been able to utilize her leadership skills as a trainer, consultant, program developer, fund raiser, ELCA coach and preacher. Sunni worked with Camp Fire in Iowa, Alaska, Minnesota and Lincoln before joining the Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministry staff as director of programs. Most recently she served at First Lutheran Lincoln. One of her greatest joys has been walking with others as they discern God’s call and learn to use their gifts. Koda, the wonder dog, and Sunni live in Lincoln. She can be found on the road taking photos, connecting with friends or hunting down a good Thai restaurant.
Areas of responsibility
Leadership Development, Candidacy, LGBTQQIA2S+ Team, Coaching Network
Deacon Timothy Siburg
Deacon Timothy Siburg

Director for Mission, Innovation, and Stewardship

Bio
Deacon Timothy serves as the Director for Mission, Innovation and Stewardship. He has been a Deacon since 2016, serving on synod staff here in Nebraska since May 2016. He has previously served on staff and in leadership roles for congregations, nonprofits, startups, and another synod, in Minnesota and Washington. Areas of interest in ministry include: leadership and stewardship; mission and outreach; innovation and experimentation; vitality and transformation; generosity and gratitude; writing; and cultivating and sharing stories of ministry in action. Timothy is available to preach, lead worship (outside of the sacraments), workshops and discussions, and meet for conversation. He resides in Fontanelle with his wife, Rev. Allison Siburg (Salem Lutheran, Fontanelle) and their two daughters.
Areas of responsibility
ELCA Churchwide Relations (including the DEM Network), Giving, Innovation, Leadership, Mission, Outreach, Stewardship, Synod Assembly Planning Team
Deacon Connie Stover

Director of Seeking the Spirit Within

Bio
Connie Stover is a native Nebraskan and lifelong Lutheran who currently resides in Kearney. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master of Science Degree in Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She was originally commissioned by the LCA as a Lay Professional and is now serving as a Deacon of the ELCA. She received her certification for spiritual direction in 2012. Her professional history includes teaching high school English and Speech, serving an ELCA congregation as the Director of Education and Youth Ministry, and counseling in a group practice agency. She previously served as an Assistant to the Bishop of the Nebraska Synod for ten years before accepting the call to become the Director of Seeking the Spirit Within in 2014. Connie’s favorite vacation destination is Colorado, where her son and daughter-in-law reside. She is grateful to have celebrated her most recent birthday with her mother, who also lives in Kearney.
Areas of responsibility
Spiritual Direction

Administrative Team

Angela Geier

Support Staff

Bio
Being a wife to a firefighter and a busy mom, Angie has consistently brought her experience, dedication along with her outgoing and entertaining personality to the Nebraska Synod for the last 2 ½ years.
Areas of responsibility
General Information, Office, and Events
Diane Harpster

Administrative Assistant to the Bishop

Bio
Diane Harpster has served on synod staff since October 2012, and prior to that served for sixteen years on the staff of her congregation, Sinai, Fremont. She and her husband, Ron, live in Fremont, and have two adult sons (and a daughter-in-law) and a Goldendoodle, Andy. Watercolor painting, coloring, reading, quiet time and coffee on the deck - preferably one with a lake view - and travel whenever possible are some of her interests. She is a life-long Nebraskan, certified spiritual director, chocolate lover and HGTV-watcher, and enjoys the opportunity to meet and serve the people and congregations throughout the Nebraska Synod.
Areas of responsibility
Bishop's Office, Constitution/Governance, and Synod Council
Contact info

diane@nebraskasynod.org

Michele Herrick

Support Staff

Bio
Michele joined the Nebraska Synod in May 2016 as part-time admin support/receptionist. Prior to working at the Synod, she was a church secretary and an elementary school teacher. She has a BSBA from UNK and a teaching certificate from College of St. Mary’s. Michele enjoys spending time with her family, reading, genealogy, and yoga.
Areas of responsibility
General Information, Office, Development
Stephanie Lusienski

Director of Finance and Administration

Bio
Stephanie Lusienski has served on synod staff since October 2008, and prior to that served for 5 years on the staff of her congregation, American Lutheran Church, Ashland. She and her husband, Jerry live in Ashland, and have 3 grown children. Her interests are reading, traveling, and gardening, or just about any activity that requires being outside. “I love meeting and talking with people throughout the Nebraska Synod. I am humbly honored to be a part of a faith tradition that serves others and welcomes everyone, no matter their faith, ethnicity, or gender."
Areas of responsibility
Budget & Finance, Giving, and Global Mission
Carol Mapa

PMA Administrator

Bio
Rev. Carol T. Mapa was ordained into Word and Sacrament in May 2006. Prior to her ordination, she was active in serving the church in camping and retreat ministry, campus ministry, youth ministry as well as working in the public school system. Her undergraduate work was at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. She received a M.A. from Wartburg Seminary in 1987; returning to studies for ordination from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Areas of responsibility
Parish Ministry Associates
Morgan Tranmer

Events and Communications Administrator

Bio
Morgan holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and previously served as the Youth Coordinator at Southwood Lutheran Church in Lincoln. A Lutheran since birth, Morgan was baptized and confirmed at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wilber and was later an active participant at The UNL Lutheran Center as a host and peer minister. When she is not in the office, she can be found reading, spending time with her family, indulging in the occasional Netflix binge, or planning her next big travel adventure!
Areas of responsibility
Event Support, Administrative Support, Email Newsletter, Social Media, Blog, Website

Other Resources

Bill Biggs

Synod Attorney

Other Resources

Areas of responsibility
Constitutions, Governance, and Legal Concerns
Joel D. Pedersen

Synod Attorney

Other Resources

Bio
Former General Counsel of the University of Nebraska - specializing in philanthropic public/private partnerships for high-impact projects. Frequently requested to conduct complex and challenging negotiations for priority projects. Thrives in an environment of elected officials, executives, and highly educated professionals with high expectations. Strategically involved in drafting and implementing large projects, combining governance/oversight with sophisticated real property, construction, and financing deliverables. Excels at identifying original solutions. Proven results in the various areas of practice.

Other Ministry Contacts

1) Nebraska Synod Substance Abuse Resource: Rev. Otto Schultz (starfish@inebraska.com)
2) Prison Ministry: Rev. Rob Corum (prisonministry@nebraskasynod.org)
3) Candidacy: Jennifer Carnahan (candidacy@nebraskasynod.org
4) Synod Volunteer Archivist: Ian Hartfield (i.hartfield@sheridanlutheran.org)
5) Serving Arms: The ministry partners and organizations that are essential to helping the Synod carry out its work.