connecting people to christ for life


Immanuel Belvidere consists of many different ministries and areas but, as one body of Christ our, leadership team works together to help connect people to Christ for life.

Our Church Leadership Team

  • Braun Campbell  - Senior Pastor

    Pastor Campbell grew up in the Midwest, but following college spent the majority of the next 25 years in the national capital area. A second-career pastor, his journey in ministry took him to the seminary after working in the professional services industry. As a 2006 seminary graduate, he was called to serve at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alexandria, VA. Fourteen years later, he accepted the Call to serve the people of Immanuel and the Belvidere community in the joy of the gospel. He and his wife, Leslie, are looking forward to raising their two imaginative children here in northern Illinois, sharing God’s grace in Christ Jesus. When he gets the chance to do so, Pastor Campbell enjoys snowboarding, videogaming, and staying current on pop culture.


  • Keith Richard - Assistant Pastor

    Pastor Richard was ordained in 2015 but has been serving full time in ministry for 20 years. As a DCE, a classroom teacher, and now as a pastor he enjoys teaching, preaching, and sharing the Gospel with people in need. He served at St. John Lutheran in Wheaton, IL for 9 years before arriving at Immanuel in 2007. Being a husband to his amazing wife and a dad to his three wonderful children brings him joy beyond words. He relaxes by spending time outside, being active, and watching New England sports teams win championships.    

  • Rick Wagner - Immanuel North Pastor

    Richard Wagner served as Assistant Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Kansas City, Missouri, (July 1973 – January 1978) where he worked in the areas of Youth and Evangelism. He accepted a call to being a mission church in Warsaw, Missouri. He served as the first pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Warsaw, Missouri (February 1978-February 1994). Pastor Wagner was called to St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Rockton, IL in February 1994. He served St. Andrew until his retirement in 2011. Several years following “retirement,” Pastor Wagner began assisting at Immanuel North, Poplar Grove, Il. He is currently part-time on the staff of Immanuel Lutheran as the “point pastor” for Immanuel North. In 1971, he married Karen Schmidt of St. Louis, MO. Karen went to be with her Lord following a battle with cancer in 2000. By the grace and love of God, Richard Wagner met Deborah Backman of Rockton, IL. They were married July 6, 2002. They now make their home in Roscoe, IL. Rick and Debbie together have 4 children and 6 grandchildren. 

  • Sue Piske - Ministry Involvment

    Sue started working at Immanuel in the fall of 1997. She has enjoyed serving in many different roles on the church staff. Currently she serves as Ministry Involvement/Member Care Coordinator and oversees the Comfort Dog Ministry. Sue and her husband Doug have been married for 35 years and are the proud parents of a son, 3 daughters, 3 son-in-law’s and have 3 granddaughters and two (soon to be 3) grandsons. She enjoys spending time with family, reading, scrapbooking and bringing Jesus mercy and love to people thru the Comfort Dog Ministry.

  • Josh Wold - Director of Youth Ministries

    Josh has been the Director of Youth Ministries since 2012 when he moved to Illinois from Michigan.  He grew up in Iowa on a farm and is married to his wife Carmella with two kids, Dennis and Angelina.  He is a HUGE Iowa Hawkeye fan, loves a good latte', and his calling in life is to help connect with students to help them grow in their faith.

  • Andrea Davis - Youth Ministry Assistant

    Andrea has worked at Immanuel since 2010. She joined Immanuel in 1999 when her youngest started school at Immanuel. She is married & has 4 kids, 3 boys & 1 girl. She spends a lot of her free time going to various sporting events for her children. She loves theater and helps with Main Street Players of Belvidere (the local theater group). 

  • Sarah Kortze - Director of Children & Family Ministries

    Sarah started directing Immanuel's Children's Ministry after 5 years teaching high school English at Rockford Lutheran. While her current position involves more silly songs and fewer research papers, at the heart of both is her love of finding new and engaging ways to connect kids to Christ. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys reading (and re-reading) "Dog's Colorful Day" with her daughter, Michaela, and convincing her husband, Aaron, to watch and discuss reality TV together.  

  • Aaron Kortze - Director of Worship Arts

    Aaron has been a team member at Immanuel since 2014.  He went to college at Concordia Nebraska and Notre Dame for music.  He is married to his wife Sarah and has a daughter Michaela.  He enjoys running, the cubs, the Office, and spending time with friends and family.  His passion is helping others experience and enjoy God through music.

  • Dan Albrecht - Church & School Music

    Mr. Dan Albrecht began his career here at Immanuel in 1983, being called to serve as 4th grade teacher and Parish Music Director. Today his teaching responsibilities in the school are more music related. He also copiously follows the direction of Immanuel’s principal, filling in and teaching in various subject areas where needed. His duties as Parish Music Director are varied, working together with other musicians here in the congregation.

    Mr. Albrecht holds two degrees, one a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the other a Masters in Church Music.

    Dan and his wife Mary are proud parents of three grown children, two of whom are married, with the last one getting married this coming May. A grand son has also recently joined their family ranks!

  • Michael Peterson - Director of Communications/Technology

    Michael has only been the Communications Director since 2018 but has been a member of Immanuel his whole life.  He graduated from Immanuel, and then Rockford Lutheran.  He enjoys spending time with his family, his dog Xero, and playing games online with friends.

  • Anne Wetzel - Church Office Administrator

    Anne has worked at Immanuel for 12 years as the Administrative Assistant.  She has been a lifelong member and really enjoys interacting with people on a daily basis.  She has been married to her husband Al for 9 years and between the two of them they have 4 adult boys.  She enjoys flea marketing and traveling.

  • Brenda McElroy - Director of Helping Hands

    Brenda has been a member of Immanuel for 18 years. She has been at Helping Hands for 8 years. She is also a Handler for Kye and Bekah Comfort Dogs.

  • Claudia Hauch - Finance

    Claudia has 51 years of experience in Finance and has worked at Immanuel since 2004. Claudia & her husband Jim have been members of Immanuel since 1989 when Jim was called to teach at ILS. Claudia enjoys making Immanuel’s Baptismal napkins, quilting and reading in her spare time.

  • Mike Buhl - Treasurer

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  • Sally Stegmann - Membership Assistant

    Sally has been employed part-time at Immanuel since April, 2014, after retiring as a school secretary with Belvidere School District #100. She has been a member of Immanuel since her marriage in 1971. When not helping at the church office, she mainly enjoys reading, keeping track of the Chicago Cubs, and being with family and friends.

Our School Leadership Team

Immanuel Lutheran School is one of the largest ministries at Immanuel.  here students from Pre-K 3 - 8th Grade come and learn at the highest level academically and also learn about how they are baptized children of God saved through Jesus.

  • Judy Schaefer - School Principal

    Mrs. Judy Schaefer remembers the day that Fritz Winterroth called her at CTC Seward and said, “How would you like to teach third grade and coach girls’ sports at Immanuel?” Although it was 38 years ago, in some ways it seems like yesterday. God has blessed her years at Immanuel with daily opportunities as a teacher and as a principal to share the Gospel message and with daily opportunities to help students become life-long learners.

    Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Mrs. Schaefer attended St. Paul Lutheran School and Rockford Lutheran High School. She felt at home at Concordia Teachers’ College in Seward, Nebraska and graduated from CTC in 1981. She received her Master’s Degree from Northern Illinois University in 1992. After 16 ½ years as a teacher, Mrs. Schaefer was called to the principal position in January 1997. Her husband, Jeff, is the eighth grade homeroom teacher and Athletic Director at ILS. The Schaefers love to travel and have visited all 50 states and Europe.

    For these blessings, for the blessings of a great family, for a wonderful church family, for a fabulous faculty and staff, and for awesome students she is truly thankful. May God continue to bless our efforts together at “Connecting People to Christ for Life”.

  • Susan Bower - Resource Teacher

    Mrs. Susan Bower is the resource teacher and assistant principal at Immanuel Lutheran School. She been on staff since 2015.

    Mrs. Bower earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Concordia University, River Forest and she received her master’s degree in School Leadership with a type 75 certificate from Concordia University, River Forest. Mrs. Bower holds a Learning Behavior Specialist 1 certificate for PreK through age 21. She studied for and received her cross categorical certificate at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

    Mrs. Bower’s husband is currently the principal at Immanuel Lutheran, Crystal Lake. The Bowers have two children, Jennifer (Chad) and Eric (Natalie) and 4 grandchildren. Having family get togethers and spending time with children and grandchildren is one of their most enjoyable activities.

  • Sue Massaro - School Secretary

  • Tara Oetting - PreK 3 Teacher

    Mrs. Tara Oetting is our PreK3 teacher at Immanuel. She has taught PreK for more than 10 years including her time at Immanuel, in New York, and in Texas, taking a long break in the middle to stay home with her children. Tara graduated from Concordia University Nebraska with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She also earned her Master’s from CUNE. Her children, Joshua and Julie, went to Immanuel for 10 years and are now sophomores at Rockford Lutheran. Katy, her youngest daughter, is currently a fourth grader at Immanuel. Tara enjoys spending her free time with her children and her husband. She likes to garden and do projects around their farm. She also enjoys scrapbooking, cooking, and watching her children in their various sports and activities.

  • Dawn Vaudt - PreK 3 Teacher Assistant

  • Natalie Drella - PreK 4 Teacher

    Mrs. Natalie Drella is teaching her twelfth year of preschool at Immanuel. Prior to that she taught preschool for almost eight years in public school. Before becoming a teacher Natalie worked as a case manager with the mentally ill. She graduated from North Park College with degrees in Early Childhood Education and Psychology. Natalie also earned her Master’s Degree from Saint Xavier University. Natalie enjoys spending her free time with her children and her husband. She likes to hike in the mountains, paddle board, read, and spend time with her dogs. She loves animals and nature and enjoys sharing that love with her students.

  • Christine Kolk - PreK4 Teacher Assistant

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  • Erika Richardson - PreK 4 Teacher

    Mrs. Ericka Richardson, one of the newest members of our team. Mrs. Richardson teaches PreK4 at Immanuel. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Elementary Education.

    Ericka married her husband Mike and taught preschool for two years before staying home full time to take care of her four children. The Richardsons currently have a daughter and son at the University of Kansas and two daughters at Rockford Lutheran High School. They are thankful that all four of their children attended ILS from kindergarten through 8th grade. ILS has been a huge blessing to their family! The thing that brings Ericka the most joy is having all six members of her family under the same roof. She also enjoys walking their dog, watching Kansas basketball, and listening to books on Audible. It has been a huge blessing to her (and a great deal of fun) to work with four year olds again!

  • Kathy Schalow - PreK4 Teacher Assistant

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  • Peggy Phillips - Kindergarten Teacher

    Mrs. Phillips has been teaching at Immanuel Lutheran school for eight years. Prior to teaching at Immanuel, she taught preschool, kindergarten, and second grade at Good Shepherd in Elgin. Mrs. Phillips earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Illinois University where she met her husband Andy. She has also worked as a teacher and substitute in public school. Mrs. Phillips has two daughters who attended Lutheran school in Elgin. She strongly believes that their education in a Lutheran school has shaped who they are as young adults today. In her free time, Peggy enjoys playing games with family and Bunco with friends. She likes to cook with her daughter Emily. She also enjoys listening to music and going to concerts.

  • Carinna Siksna - 1st Grade Teacher

    Carinna joined the team at Immanuel in the fall of 2020 as our first grade teacher. Carinna is trained not only as a Lutheran teacher, but also a Director of Christian Education. She graduated from Concordia University Chicago in 2019. Carinna enjoys spending time with her family and friends outside of work. She also loves crafting and cooking!

  • Brittney Erwin - 3rd Grade Teacher

    Mrs. Brittney Erwin teaches third grade at Immanuel. Brittney is in her second-year teaching at Immanuel and became a member of the church last year. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Concordia University Chicago in 2016. She spent her first year teaching in Pennsylvania. Besides teaching Brittney loves to read, spend time with her husband, and play with her two dogs. 

  • Lisa Pudell - 4th Grade Teacher

    Mrs. Pudell is in her third year of teaching fourth grade at Immanuel. She also served 20 years at Trinity Roselle, IL, two years at Concordia University-Texas in Austin, and three years at Redeemer Redwood City, CA. She has been married 35 years to Bob who is an Assistant Pastor at Immanuel Crystal Lake. They have two daughters, Sarah, a wedding planner, married to Dave, and Rachel, a senior graduating this spring from Purdue, who is going on to become a Child Life Specialist. "Grandma" (or "Ga Ga") loves spending time with almost 2-year-old Kurt, as well as cooking and traveling. 

  • Cindy Gnewuch - 5th Grade Teacher

    Cindy Gnewuch, our fifth grade teacher, joined ILS in August 2017. The Lord has blessed her with various ministry opportunities throughout her life. She has served Lutheran churches and schools in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, South Carolina, and Virginia as a classroom teacher, principal, music director, organist, and university instructor. Special memories in her ministry include having the privilege to serve as the organist and song leader for three LWML district conventions, producing numerous church & school musical productions, building a home on a Mexicali mission trip, and sharing God’s love with the children and adults with whom she has worked. Mrs. Gnewuch feels that God has given each child his or her own unique talents and abilities. She feels that it is her responsibility to assist students in determining the learning strategies that will allow them to reach their highest potential

  • Leslie Johnson - 6th Grade Teacher

    Mrs. Johnson joined the Immanuel faculty in 2005. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in both public and Lutheran education and has taught students ages three to 21. Mrs. Johnson serves as a sixth grade homeroom teacher and is responsible for teaching sixth grade Religion/Memory; sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Literature and Language Arts; and sixth and seventh grade Art.

    Mrs. Johnson earned a B.S. in Education from Illinois State University and an M.A. in British and American Literature from Northern Illinois University. She completed the Colloquy program through Concordia University's Continuing Education Network and was called to ministry at Immanuel in 2012.

    Mrs. Johnson is married, has four adult children, two dogs, and three granddogs. Mrs. Johnson's children attended Immanuel Lutheran School. The excellent Christian education they received motivated her to join the teaching staff. She enjoys reading, singing, working in her yard, and spending time with her children.

  • Jason Pedersen - 7th Grade Teacher

    Mr. Jason Pedersen teaches seventh grade at Immanuel.  He also teaches middle school social studies and computer classes for grades first through eighth. Previously, Jason taught and coached for ten years at Harvard Junior High School in Harvard, IL.  Jason attended Augustana College for his Bachelor’s Degree in geography and earned his teaching certificate and Master’s degree from National Louis University. Jason has always been active in sports.  He was a three sport athlete in high school and college. He spends his free time cheering on Chicago sports teams. He enjoys coaching, and especially enjoys playing basketball, soccer, and baseball in the backyard with his three kids Marie, Kent, and Jimmy. Jason and his wife Erin have been members of Immanuel since 2014. 

  • Jeff Schaefer - 8th Grade Teacher

    Mr. Jeff Schaefer was born and raised in Marengo, Illinois. He attended Zion Lutheran School and Marengo High School. In 1983 he graduated from Concordia Teacher’s College (Concordia University) in Seward, Nebraska with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. After graduation Mr. Schaefer accepted a call to teach seventh grade, coach, and serve as the Youth Director at Trinity Lutheran School in Centralia, Illinois. In 1990 Mr. Schaefer returned to northern Illinois when he accepted a call to teach sixth grade, coach, and serve as Athletic Director at Immanuel. He currently teaches math, science, vocabulary, and PE in Immanuel’s middle school. Mr. Schaefer received his Master’s Degree in Education from National Louis University.

    Camping, fishing, hiking, golfing, working outdoors, designing, building, and repairing head up Mr. Schaefer’s list of interests and hobbies. He loves the sciences and especially enjoys traveling with Mrs. Schaefer. Together they have been to all 50 states and Europe.

    Mr. Schaefer loves being a part of the Immanuel family and is thankful for the support of the congregation and the many blessings associated with teaching the faith!

Lay Leadership

Immanuel's leadership team also includes our lay leadership.  Leaders that volunteer their time and energy to continue to share the Gospel with people

  • Jon Goldie - Vestry President

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  • Dan Hennig - Head Elder/Deacon

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  • Donna Gutzler - Handbell Director

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  • Cathy Dulgar - Belize Mission Team

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