The Rev. Heidi Punt was born and raised in South Africa. She completed all her formal studies in South Africa, majoring in missiology and New Testament studies at the University of South Africa and the Lutheran House of Studies. Pastor Punt accepted the call to serve in the USA about 20 years ago and began her ministry in Illinois. In 2013, God led her and her family to North Carolina, where she currently serves Union Lutheran Church. Pastor Heidi also serves as a Global Worker with SMI Haiti. As Pastor Heidi embraces her call, she shares: “Mission on the local, national and international level has always been central to my call as pastor. The Great Commission ‘to go into the all world, teach, baptize…’ (Matthew 28) is not just theoretical or theological to me. It is where the rubber hits the road! It is where discipleship and biblical authority becomes tangible and real!”
Pastor Melinda Jones serves as pastor of Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Charleston, South Carolina. Along with the joy of ordained ministry to Word and Sacrament, Pastor Jones ministers to her parish neighborhood which is in the most urban, economically challenged area of the “Low Country.” Homelessness, alcoholism, drugs, human trafficking and poverty are some of the scars on those to whom Advent witnesses; Pastor Jones works with the sherrif’s office, the attorney general’s Office, and other local agencies to help bring awareness and the hope of combatting the suffering in this environment. Pastor Jones is secretary of the Executive Council of the North American Lutheran Church, which has afforded her opportunities to visit many NALC congregations. For the past nine years, she led and taught annual women’s retreats in Rincon, Georgia, for Lutheran congregations in the NALC, LCMC and ELCA. Pastor Jones and her husband (Jim) of twenty-nine years live in Summerville, SC along with their two teenage sons (Jade and Vasa).
The Rev. Dr. Scott Ness serves as the senior pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, GA. A graduate of Wittenberg University, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and most recently received his doctorate of ministry from Portland Seminary (formerly George Fox) in Portland, Oregon. He loves stories and finding ways to use ordinary, everyday life to point to our amazing God. He strives to see with eyes of faith. He fails consistently. Through it all, God remains faithful and full of grace. Pastor Scott has also traveled with the NALC’s Theologians Without Borders to Denmark and Ethiopia. When Pastor Scott isn’t running around the church he is often found at home with his wife, Deanna, and their six children.
Jacqui El Torro serves as the Chair of the Women of the NALC and the Mission Team Leader. Jacqui also serves on the long-range planning team for NALC Lutheran Week. She is a member of A New Thing Christian Church in Lithonia, Georgia. Previous to her time in the NALC, she held various positions in her former church on congregational, synodical & churchwide levels. Jacqui is married with two adult children, one adult grandchild, four grand-dogs & one grand-cat.
“The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.” (Psalms 68:11 NIV) May Grace and Favor be your constant companions.
The Rev. Dr. Eric Waters serves as the senior pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boerne, Texas. Pastor Eric shares that it is his wife who prayed him into the Kingdom. He is a graduate of Dartmouth has a Master of Divinity from Yale and received a Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Seminary in Biblical preaching. Originally from New York, he and his amazing wife, Michelle, and six children are now blessed to call Texas, home.
The Rev. Dona Johnson is the pastor of GracePointe and is an ordained pastor in the NALC. Her ministry experience includes congregational life, teaching, stewardship, and mental health. Pastor Dona also serves as the chair of the NALC’s Living and Giving Stewardship Team.
Pastor Dona has also chaired a mental health denominational task force and the board of directors for The Castle, a nonprofit day drop-in program for those who live with mental illness and disabilities. Prior to serving as a pastor in the NALC, she also served as an architecture professor at two universities. Pastor Dona holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH, a Masters of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and a Fellow with AIA/AHA. She lives with her husband Mike in Sedona, AZ. She loves to teach, hike, and read.
Bethesda is a Lutheran service organization that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full lives in a loving Christian environment. Bethesda provides homes, programs, resources and faith supports for people with disabilities. They strive to educate, advocate and fully integrate people into welcoming congregations and communities. Focusing on Psalm 139, Bethesda rejoices in knowing we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator, exactly the way He intended us to be.