Donor Spotlight: Jeff and Pam Thiemann

December 15, 2021

A story of faith and service around the world

Jeff and Pam are college sweethearts. They met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at orientation the week before their freshman year and hit it off right away. Church was a big part of their lives growing up and college was a time as Jeff and Pam describe, “Where faith became our own.”

When Jeff was three years old, Jeff’s parents were Lutheran missionaries in the Phillipines. The oldest of five, Jeff recalls the most important lessons he learned from his parents are doing your best, having meaningful work to do, and that what you do and what you say have real impact—in ways that sometimes you’ll never know.

“We are ambassadors and witnesses in our words and in our deeds.”

Jeff and Pam have four daughters born in four different countries. They’ve also traveled together to 55 countries and six continents. They share a love of travel and both say, “It is fun to see God’s creation.” But wherever they go, they find a place where their talents can meet a need. Today, Jeff and Pam are active members of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and support organizations that provide encouragement to people who are answering the call to serve such as Fund for Leaders, a scholarship program that trains future pastors and deacons. Jeff and Pam are also proud to support Lutheran Services in America and our innovative work.

“It is good when we can give to address issues; it is great to give to accelerate solutions.”

As Lutheran Services in America donors, Jeff and Pam want more people to know about the scale and impact of Lutheran Services in America across the country. Through the work of 300 Lutheran social ministry organizations serving one in 50 people in America each year, Jeff and Pam see that the Lutheran impact is growing, not shrinking. Jeff and Pam also note how many people are often surprised to learn that the beginning of Lutheran social ministry goes all the way back to the Reformation and the Common Chest.

As Jeff and Pam learn more about Lutheran Services in America, they become more excited about the work and the opportunity to build and expand its impact. Jeff and Pam also see that Lutheran Services in America is unique among its faith-based membership organizations and remark that, “Lutheran Services in America brings the collective power of its network together with national strategic partners in philanthropy, healthcare, and academia to dive into meaty issues and deliver compelling evidence.”

“There’s an accelerator effect that happens because of the way Lutheran Services in America does its work.”

Through its partnerships, Lutheran Services in America injects funding, expertise, and other resources and Jeff and Pam share the sentiment that this is a special aspect of what Lutheran Services in America does. Going beyond networking to accelerating innovation is key to the Lutheran Services in America network approach, which takes vision and exceptional focus—and seeing the impact of this innovative approach at the grassroots level is something Jeff and Pam find most compelling.

Jeff and Pam value Lutheran social ministry’s spirit of innovation, faithful presence in communities experiencing need, and ability to stand in the gap and thrive in extremely challenging circumstances. They both encourage you to learn more about your local Lutheran social ministry organization and ask them how their organization and the people they serve are impacted by Lutheran Services in America national programs. Hear their story.

To join Jeff and Pam’s contributions, consider making a gift to the Lutheran Services in America Lasting Change Campaign.



Read past donor spotlights:

By Deborah Hoesly, Vice President of Development

Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula Prepare to Welcome Ukrainian Newcomers

March 30, 2022

From Afghanistan to Ukraine, newly arrived refugees share a common story of perseverance in the face of adversity, punctuated by a ray of hope as they build new lives in the United States.

The team at Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is preparing to welcome refugees from these regions and provide the support they need to adjust to their new communities, including housing, education and job placement. LSS groups and volunteers take an active role in securing essential resources, from household supplies to transportation, as each person and family works toward self-sufficiency.

LSS staff members are committed and prepared to support some of the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees the United States has pledged to receive but also understand the hardship of the road ahead.

“It’s a daunting task, and there’s a lot of heartbreak,” said LSS program manager Mary Flynn in a local television interview. “We are in the business of welcoming people that have had to flee a lot of violence and terror.”

The new Ukrainian arrivals come as the organization just finished resettling more than 160 Afghan refugees in the area. “Afghans came in a very short time and now the Ukrainians might come in a fairly short time,” Mary said.

Mary is an optimist and is holding out hope that the crisis in Ukraine changes for the better, saying, “I would love to be put out of business by a wave of peace.”

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is a member of Lutheran Services in America, a national network of 300 Lutheran health and human services organizations that lifts up one in 50 people in America each year.

Learn more about Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and find out how you can help.

The Dawn After the Dark: God’s Big Plans for Concordia Life Plan Community

April 6, 2022

We all know that COVID-19 changed the world, but few of us know the extent of the immense challenge to the elderly community. While the younger generation adapted quickly, utilizing technology and resources, those living in care centers were isolated from their loved ones and the world as they knew it during the early months of the pandemic.

Providing for seniors within the community

While the world turned upside down, senior living CEOs and leaders needed to quickly implement and adapt COVID-19 protocols on a daily, even hourly basis, to keep the aging population safe. During the peak of the pandemic, Paige Mills-Haag, Director of Fund Development at Concordia Life Plan Community and one of five Concordia Community Foundation Board members, experienced a significant shift in daily responsibilities, where the focus shifted from fundraising for a chapel expan and benevolent care program, to applying for FEMA COVID-19 public assistance, making daily resident welfare phone calls and communicating ever-changing COVID protocols to residents and families to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable population.

The pandemic brought many challenges for senior living providers across the globe, and Concordia was no exception. It was during that moment that Concordia’s CEO and Board of Directors decided to turn to their friends at Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) for an extra helping hand.

“Concordia’s partnership with LCEF is an invaluable one,” said Danny Eischen, CEO, Concordia Life Plan Community. “Our relationship with LCEF—the organization’s deep understanding of our mission, ministry and community—continues to inspire us and gives us the ability to carry out our work for the betterment of others. Over the last year, we felt God’s presence again and again, specifically through this partnership.”

In the midst of the worst days of COVID-19, LCEF sprang into action to provide borrower relief and a loan to Concordia, a thriving retirement community in the Oklahoma City area.

Growing together in a multitude of ways

The facility faced an obstacle as demand for spiritual space increased, and they often exceeded capacity in the current chapel. Through the determination of board members, pastors, LCEF and God’s faithfulness, Concordia Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm and foundation to support the programs and services of Concordia Life Plan Community, developed a plan to raise funds to expand the chapel to accommodate a larger number of residents.

The pandemic “took a toll on social and spiritual life,” says Mills-Haag. During these hardships, it was crucial that their senior residents were provided with the care they deserved and needed: physically, emotionally and spiritually. At Concordia, the focus on benevolent care is a vital part of the community’s foundation and a ministry offered to residents if they should outlive their resources through no fault of their own. Concordia offers a variety of care ranging from independent living, assisted living, memory care and a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.

“These levels of care are all offered under the same roof,” says Rev. Barrie Henke, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Oklahoma District president, when speaking about the full life care that is provided to the residents at Concordia.

Unfortunately, the pandemic aggravated many needs of the residents, the most prevalent being their need for a space for their spiritual care. The Kamman Chapel is not large enough to accommodate the number of residents who want to attend weekly chapel services and other events held in the chapel. Currently, the space can accommodate forty to forty-five people and Concordia serves nearly 200 residents in all levels of care. The most practical solution to the lack of available space is to expand the chapel. That is what Concordia plans to do with the support of residents and families, engaged constituents, local congregations and national Lutheran-affiliated organizations.

“It was LCEF’s provision that both sustained us and allowed us to pursue the Kamman Chapel expansion,” stated Eischen. “A project that profoundly aligns with our mission to offer residents community, belonging and a haven for faith. LCEF understands Concordia; that understanding gives us latitude to grow, despite the challenges and demands of COVID. What’s more, Concordia’s partnership with LCEF has allowed us to focus with hope and faith on a better tomorrow.”

Finding new hope

“The Kamman Chapel expansion will be a blessing to the residents at Concordia,” says Henke, a beloved and respected board member for Concordia Community Foundation. The chapel does not only serve as a place of worship, but as Henke stated, it is also a place of fellowship, community and belonging.

Mills-Haag said, “The Bible calls us to care for widows and orphans,” which is exactly what the community is doing by building a new, larger chapel and providing benevolent care for aging residents. The chapel expansion will allow for multiple events to occur at the facility, including larger weekly worship services, and advance the ministry offerings at Concordia to include all residents and their families and guests, as well as host faith-based and community groups from the greater Oklahoma community.

“It is my hope for the future of Concordia that more families will discover and take advantage of the Christian environment, the excellent care and the safe haven offered by Concordia Life Plan Community,” says Henke. The capital campaign is currently underway to raise $3.5M for a new chapel is a new beginning.

“It is the dawn after the dark,” Mills-Haag said, “and God has big plans for our community.”


This article was originally published by Interest Time, a Lutheran Church Extension Fund publication.