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Getting to know the new district presidents

Dan Leyrer
Dan Leyrer says, “It will be my ongoing prayer and effort, under the Lord’s guidance and grace, that the Southeastern Wisconsin District, as heavily populated with WELS Christians as it is, always view itself as a ‘mission district’ that is constantly looking to reach the sheep who are not yet in Jesus’ pen.”

Daniel Leyrer, Southeastern Wisconsin District president

What was your upbringing like? I grew up in Milwaukee as the youngest of seven children and was blessed to have the finest set of Christian parents a child could ever ask for. My mother reflected the love of Jesus every day, was quick to share the gospel with me, and modeled God’s compassion throughout my childhood. My father served as a pastor for 44 years. I don’t know if he ever said, “Dan, you should be a pastor.” But that’s all I ever wanted to be, because I could see from little on that my dad helped people with God’s Word.

What is your family life like today? Leah and I have been married for 36 years. She’s the greatest human blessing God has ever sent into my life. The Lord gave us three wonderful daughters who married godly men, and now we have six lovely grandchildren.

How has God prepared you to serve as district president? My first two ministry settings as a pastor were mission posts that weren’t all that close to other WELS congregations. God was teaching me to treasure the individual soul and to positively, and without apology, proclaim the gospel truths of the Lutheran Reformation in places that hadn’t heard about Lutheranism all that much. Then I served as a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary for 18 years. God was teaching me that preparing and supporting others to preach the gospel is something the church must always be focusing on. Then I served as a pastor at St. Marcus in Milwaukee, a large city congregation with a large school on three campuses. God was teaching me the joy and urgency of meeting people where they’re at to bring them the gospel, especially in underserved neighborhoods, as well as the missionary power of Lutheran school teachers. So, as I look back, the Lord of the church had me doing mission work and public ministry training and support, and I am leaning on that experience now as I serve as a district president.

Michael and Sarah Seifert and their sons

Michael Seifert, North Atlantic District president

What was your upbringing like? I spent my entire youth in Midland, Mich., where my dad served as a pastor and my mom as a teacher in our Lutheran elementary school. We lived far from extended family, so my parents, brother, sisters, and I were close. My parents were tireless workers. They raised us to be the same.

What is your family life like today? My wife, Sarah, and I met during an overlapping year as tutors at Luther Prep, Watertown, Wis. She taught Spanish. I taught German. We fell in love over conversations about grammar in the cafeteria. After my first year in the parish at Living Hope, Midlothian, Va., we were married. We have three boys: Jonah (14), Ethan (12), and Caleb (10). We’ve grown to love central Virginia and our dear church family here.

What role will your new associate have in Living Hope’s ministry? Pastor Alex Lindemann and I have just begun to discuss the division of responsibilities. I’m sure we’ll both be feeling our way through the first several months. I hope that I’ll still be able to preach and teach regularly, but I imagine that most of the administration and day-to-day work will fall to him. He can be sure that Living Hope will embrace him as their pastor.

sidebarDid retiring District President Donald Tollefson give you any brotherly advice after you were elected? “Don’t think of yourself as the district president as much as the district pastor.” I pray that God will help me translate those words into practice. I pray that God’s people at Living Hope and across the district will regard me foremost as a pastor who always has time for them and will faithfully encourage, counsel, and admonish them with the powerful Word of God.

What else should WELS members know about you? My wife always warns others that I tease the people I love the most. She should know! Anyone who has ever seen me perform a baptism or confirmation knows that I cry easily. I currently have a 550-day streak of 10,000 steps on my Fitbit. I am slightly worried that the travel demands of the office will spoil that. I’ll be the crazy guy walking up and down the hotel hallway.

Read more about the 2022 district conventions. 


Volume 109, Number 08
Issue: August 2022

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