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LCMS Eastern District






Rev. Dr. Chris Wicher, President

(716.634.5111, ext. 12)

     Rev. Dr. Chris Wicher is serving his fourth term as President of the Eastern District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

    Before becoming Eastern District president, Rev. Wicher was pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Cheektowaga, New York for eleven years. He served the Eastern District for one term as Vice President representing the Buffalo Region and three terms total as Circuit Counselor for Buffalo North and Niagara East Circuits.

     Pastor Wicher also served congregations in Newfane, New York and in Goderich, Ontario, Canada. Chris has extensive training in Family Systems Theory, Healthy Congregations, and Bridge Building assistance.

     Chris is a 1982 Graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he stayed until 1983 to earn his Masters in Sacred Theology. Chris holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago.


Mr. Robert Foerster, Assistant to the President, Minister of Communications and Networking

(716.634.5111, ext. 10)

     Robert Foerster has been blessed to be able to serve children, families and congregations in Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina and, since early 1999, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Through the special people of all of those ministries he has been nurtured and mentored in many areas of congregational life and planning as well as early childhood and elementary school ministry and service.

     The unfolding potential of new and different ministry to emerging generations excites, stretches, consumes and scares

him. The educational programs of Concordia (Ann Arbor), Concordia (Seward), Towson University (Maryland) and the Early Childhood Fellows Program (Univ. of North Carolina) have provided his formal academic training. The children, adults and colleagues of the past thirty years of his ministry have provided the majority of his real learning and growth.


Mrs. Kathy Fretthold, Assistant to the President, Director of Education

(716.634.5111, ext 14)

    Kathy Fretthold grew up in North Tonawanda, NY, as a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church and School, where she attended church, Sunday school and day school, where her children attended school, and where she taught and co-administered until the school closed in 2007. She has been a Principal/teacher at other area Lutheran schools since then. It is her prayer that her familiarity with the Eastern District will enable her to assist congregations, schools and workers provide the best Christian educational environment possible in each of their individual settings. Her goal is to further open the doors of communication between our schools; to provide the tools to Christian educators to enable them to be the best ministers they can be; and to increase awareness of our schools within the district.


Mr. Lyle Heggemeier, Assistant to the President, Director of Discipleship Development

 (716.634.5111, ext 15 )

     Lyle was born in St. Louis and attended Lutheran schools in the St. Louis area through high school. He then attended Concordia College, Seward, Nebraska, graduating in 1978 with a B.S. in Education, Lutheran Teacher’s Diploma, and Director of Christian Education certification. He later also received his Masters degree from Seward in Parish Education. 
     Lyle served in congregations in the midwest until 2007, when he accepted the call to serve as DCE at Faith Lutheran Church in Rochester, New York. Lyle served in Peoria (Illinois), Wichita (Kansas), and Edina (Minnesota). In each of those settings he served as a DCE. His job responsibilities have included youth ministry, children’s education, Sunday School, VBS, adult education, small group ministry, outreach and assimilation, missions, and staff administration. Lyle has served Lutheran congregations in a full time capacity for over 35 years. 
     Beyond congregational ministries Lyle has also served on the Kansas District Board of Directors, the Kansas District Youth Gathering Committee, Eastern District Board of Directors, National Youth Gathering Committee, KINDLE Board of Directors, Lutheran Education Association Board of Directors, and as the president of the national DCE association (TEAM).





 Mr. Richard Porter, Lutheran Church Extension Fund Vice President

(716.634.5111, ext. 11)

     As LCEF Vice President, Rick serves congregations with services and loan resources so they can expand facilities to carry out their ministries. He promotes investment opportunities in LCEF to congregations and individuals.

     Rick came to the District staff and LCEF after working 26 years in retail management and several years of volunteer service in the Eastern District.


Mr. Richard Paul, Director - LCMS Foundation Gift Planning Development

(716.634.5111, ext. 17)

     The Director of Gift Planning Development (DGDP) is responsible for coordinating and supervising the gift planning training and mentoring programs of the Foundation Gift Planning Services. These groups include the Gift Planning Counselors of the various Districts, the Associate Gift Planning Counselors, Development Directors of various RSO organizations of the LCMS, and the Gift Planners of the Transfer the Blessing stewardship process.

     Rich joined the LCMS Foundation in 1999, having previously served five years as district representative & estate planning specialist for Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL) in New York. Rich was the chief executive officer of a large commercial office products company in the Buffalo area for seventeen years.

     Rich is a graduate of Dean College, Boston, MA and Canisius College, Buffalo.


Mr. Robert Wirth - LCMS Foundation Eastern District Gift Planning Counselor

(716.634.5111, ext. 16)

     As part of a joint venture with the Eastern District, Bob Wirth works with individuals and congregations to raise the visibility and resources necessary to support both local and national ministries. Local ministries include Camp Pioneer & Retreat Center, Lutheran Schools and other local Eastern District ministries.





President's Office

     Mary Ellen Sima
     716.634.5111, Ext. 13


Finance Office
     Barbara Sigafoos
     716.634.5111, Ext. 18


Foundation/LCEF/Eastern District Offices
     Ruth Marzano
     716.634.5111, Ext. 10











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