Synod Staff

The Rev. Richard E. Jaech 

Bishop

Email: jaechre@plu.edu

The Rev. Rick Jaech was re-elected as synodical bishop at the Synod Assembly in Vancouver WA in June 2019- He is actively serving his second 6-year term.

Before his election as bishop, Bishop Jaech was the Pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church of Vancouver,  WA  for 26 years and previously served a Latino congregation in San Francisco. He  holds a master’s degree in conflict facilitation and published a book titled “Transforming Church Conflict: A Guide for Pastors and Leaders” that is available on Amazon. He received his pastoral training from The Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and has been ordained for 44 years.

Bishop Jaech is working hard to bring ecumenical groups together for common work. He is working with the ELCA to fund and lead creative programs in the Southwestern Washington Synod for congregational renewal and support of rostered ministers.

Bishop Jaech really enjoys visiting our synod congregations and rostered leaders; meeting new people and hearing their faith stories.

Bishop Jaech and his wife, Satya, live in Tacoma.  Satya is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Spiritual Director.  Their son, Nick lives in New York.

The Rev. Rebecca Shjerven

Bishop’s Associate

Email:  shjervrl@plu.edu

Pastor Rebecca Shjerven (pronounced Sher-ven) was called by the Synod Council to serve as Bishop’s Associate and began this call on September 1, 2019, following the retirement of Pastor Kim Latterell. As Bishop’s Associate, Pastor Shjerven will provide leadership in four key areas: (1) Shepherding congregations in transition, most often supporting them in a call process for a new leader; (2) Working with the Synod’s Candidacy process for people who desire to serve the church as a pastor or deacon; (3) Placing and supporting seminary interns in our Synod; and (4) Providing leadership for our Synod’s new Program for Strengthening Active Lay Ministry (PSALM).

Pastor Shjerven received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Deaf Education from Augustana in 1988. She then entered Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, and received her Master of Divinity Degree in 1992. Pastor Shjerven has served calls at Peninsula Lutheran, Gig Harbor (1992-96), Zion Lutheran, Kent (1996-2001), Bethlehem Lutheran, Tacoma (2001-2008) and St. Mark’s by The Narrows, Tacoma (2008-August 2019). With her experience in both education and pastoral ministry, Pastor Shjerven brings many excellent gifts to her new call as Bishop’s Associate.  Pastor Rebecca and her husband live in Gig Harbor and are the proud parents of 3 children, their youngest in high school and the others living nearby.

The Rev. Melanie Wallschlaeger   

Director for Evangelical Mission     

Email: melanie.wallschlaeger@elca.org

Pastor Wallschlaeger  serves as our ELCA  Director for Evangelical Mission.  Prior to her coming to the Southwestern Washington Synod in 2009,  she served in several congregations in the Midwest.   Pastor Melanie is a graduate of Luther Seminary and holds a Doctorate in Congregational and Missional Leadership.  She and her husband Joe, also a Lutheran Pastor, have two daughters.  Pastor Melanie’s responsibilities are in helping to build new mission starts and help congregations imagine their potential and move toward renewal and growth.

Allison Ramsey

Office Manager/Event Coordinator   

Email: swwsynod@plu.edu

Allison’s background is in program management working with youth and adults, and in mental health counseling.   Allison is a graduate of PLU with a bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Education- Counseling and Guidance.  She is a lifelong Lutheran and enjoys her work in the synod office meeting new people, coordinating our Synod Assembly, Educational Gatherings and other events, visiting congregations, working with the Synod Candidacy Committee and our candidates for rostered ministry and facing new challenges.  She is the extremely proud parent of an amazing son.  Allison co-chairs the Synod Hunger Committee.