Meet our pastors!
Pastor Mike brings a wealth of experience to Bethel Lutheran Church. Born and raised in Odessa, Texas, Pastor Mike developed a real appreciation for Latin culture. This lead him to study Latin American history in college where he graduated with a BA from Texas Lutheran University. He received a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His doctoral project was on the Lutheran Future in Postmodern America.
He has served as pastor for an inner-city African American church in Dallas, Texas, a large rural congregation in Iowa, and as a mission developer and solo pastor of a new start in Indianapolis. His most current role was the Community Pastor at Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. Pastor Mike’s passions in ministry include preaching, worship, community outreach, evangelism, hospitality, and stewardship. During his academic studies and work with congregations, Pastor Mike traveled abroad to Spanish-speaking countries. He studied Spanish at UNAM in Mexico City, helped establish a Lutheran mission for three months in Florencia Varela, a poor suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, studied at the Comunidad Evangelica de Chile in Santiago, and took three-month sabbaticals in the Yucatan, Mexico and Southern Spain with his family. Pastor Mike is proficient in Spanish.
His writings include bible studies on Genesis, The Gospel of Mark, and Revelation. He believes the grace of Jesus Christ leads into a life of peace and justice. As a “rock hound,” he is an avid fossil collector and loves spending time on the beaches of Lake Superior. He describes himself as a real “people person” and looks forward to joining Bethel for the new adventure God is bringing.
When asked what caught his attention about the opportunity to serve at Bethel, Pastor Mike says it is his belief that Bethel is poised to become the spiritual epicenter for the greater Madison metropolitan area. Forbes magazine identifies Madison as a destination city for millennials to move to and live. Many of those living in downtown. Bethel is at the crest of a growing community, the seat of state government, and the cultural center of a population of over half a million people (Dane, Iowa, and Columbia counties). Given its geographic location, rich heritage, and ELCA roots, Bethel is poised to surpass both its memory and expectations to reach a new generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Meet our staff!
Jeff has been on staff since 2009. He started attending Bethel in 1978, he and his wife Maureen were married here in 1980 and they have two children who were baptized here (Ben & Marta). Jeff is active in the Bethel Choir as well as the Resettlement Ministry.
Jeff’s previous work experience has been in theatre management, prepping apartments, service stations and retail grocery primarily in Pricing & Customer Service.
Jeff grew up living on campuses of Lutheran churches with k-8 schools through the ages 3 to 19. Most of these years were spent in Shawano city of 6,000, and a church of 4,000 with the school of 370 students. As long as Jeff can remember he was actively involved in setup and teardowns and making sure things were ready for events. Jeff’s father was a teacher/organist/choir director. Jeff’s mom worked for a Lutheran bookstore/mail-order supply business. His big sister Shelly is a church organist/musician on the West Bank in the New Orleans area. He also had a grandfather and great-grandfather who were Lutheran pastors in Wisconsin. These things have helped prepare Jeff for the varied activities and working relationships in a large church like Bethel.
Jeff feels very blessed to work at a church that has its doors open 7 days a week with broad missions.
Zach Busch (he/him/his) is in his first year of ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church. He recently relocated from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lived and worked for over a decade. As Minister of Liturgical Worship, he helps nurture the worship life of the congregation, has a primary voice in the planning process for worship in all seasons of the church year, plays organ and piano, coordinates instrumental music, and directs the Bethel Choir.
Zach’s philosophy as a church musician is rooted in faith of the Holy Spirit’s creative presence in and around all of us. It is from the Holy Spirit that comes artistic inspiration, that the human soul finds its expression, and it is on the Holy Spirit, wind, breath, that our very song is exhaled, heard, and felt. Zach believes that all people can sing, all people can feel music, and that all are indeed welcome and called to participate in the song of the church. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Zach directs the Bethel Choir, an important small group ministry at Bethel with a long history. He is pleased and eager to welcome any and all new members – please reach out if that might be you.
Zach is a graduate of Luther College (B.A. in music) and Luther Seminary (Master of Sacred Music). He takes special interest in exploring how the youngest generations interact with God and in finding language for God beyond the boundaries of the established church. Passionate also about music’s restorative and justice-making qualities, Zach worked for several years with Voices of Hope, a choral organization based in Minneapolis with ensembles at MCF-Shakopee (MN) and MCF-Stillwater (MN).
He is an active musical collaborator, sings with PopUp Choir (based in MN), has toured internationally as a member of the Together in Hope project, has served as village musician at Holden Village, and music directs musical theater. He is a proud member of the LGBTQIA2s+ community. Zach writes and arranges music, was recently published with Augsburg Fortress, and pursues a number of other artistic and spiritual endeavors that color his work as a church leader.
Katie (Czechowicz) Gerlach has been a lifelong member of the Bethel family; baptized, confirmed, and most recently married to her husband, Nathan Gerlach (saxophonist at Contemporary service). She has had the privilege of working with Creative Worship Singers, as well as the Contemporary Worship Team. Katie is also the choir director at Cambridge High School and is often involved in a variety of other musical endeavors in and around the Madison area.
Kevin Honaker has been a lifelong member of the Bethel family; baptized, confirmed, and married here. He has had the privilege of serving communion at Bethel since 1998 and singing with the Creative Worship Singers for several years prior to the pandemic. Kevin is very happy to be serving Bethel as a staff member and ecstatic to no longer be commuting away from his hometown for work.
Pianist for 11am Service, Substitute Pianist, Children’s Choirs and Bethel Jr!
Patrick Kenney is a pianist, composer, singer, and songwriter who has been playing at Bethel since his freshman year at UW-Madison in 2007. He is a graduate of UW-Madison with degrees in piano performance and mathematics. He plays piano for the contemporary Worship Team, Creative Worship Singers, and various Sunday School programs. He has written over 20 psalm settings that are regularly featured at Bethel services.
Patrick sings and plays with the Piano Fondue dueling piano collective in Madison and throughout the Midwest. He also plays in a band called the Trophy Husbands (formerly Nathan Gerlach and Friends) with some of his fellow Bethel musicians. Patrick has released a self-produced album called “Patchwork Man” and is working on a follow-up release. He is an actuary at CUNA Mutual Group (where he also plays piano for the employee choir).
Dona has been employed with Bethel Lutheran Church since April 19, 2004. She has been a member of Bethel since May 1998. Dona has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Upper Iowa University, an Associate Degree in Finance from Madison Area Technical College (now called Madison College) and graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison Business School in Administrative Assistance. Dona was born in Madison, WI and grew up in Monona.
Dona married Craig Meyer in 1999 at Bethel, and they live happily in Madison. Dona enjoys making jewelry, painting, reading, working with energy healing, spending time with family and friends and has helped her husband Craig put TV shows on air at WYOU (Community Television.) She is an advocate of natural healing, loves yoga and meditation. Dona is also a Reiki Master. She believes that body, mind and spirit have to be in harmony for a person to be truly happy and healthy.