Meet the missionaries who were commissioned on June 11:
Rev. Keegan Dowling – One Africa Team Missionary
Keegan J. Dowling was born August 3, 1979. He graduated from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., in 2002 and from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., in 2013. Pastor Dowling has held a multitude of jobs, from teaching in California and China all the way to flying aircraft and being an ordinary seaman on Great Lakes freighter ships. After eight years as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he received his Honorable Discharge in October 2010, with the rank of Lieutenant (O-3). He has lived in seven states and three different countries.
He and his wife, Kathryn, have four kids: Maximilian (Max) born in 2010, Augustine (Gus) born in 2013, Scheherazade (Zade) born in 2014, and Jael (Ellie) born in 2017. All six are dual citizens of the United States and Canada.
Pastor Dowling served as parish pastor of Abiding Word, Orléans, Ontario, Canada, from his graduation from seminary in 2013 until the spring of 2022, when he accepted a call to serve as a member of the outreach committee of the One Africa Team. He has wanted to be a missionary since the age of eight and is excited to connect with individuals and groups throughout the continent of Africa to explore possible fellowship connections with WELS. He and his family are moving to Lusaka, Zambia, in the summer of 2022.
Rev. Benjamin Foxen – One Africa Team Missionary
Benjamin Foxen was born November 22, 1982. He graduated from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., in 2005 and from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., in 2010. Pastor Foxen served as a missionary to Russia from 2010-2016, and as pastor of Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Peoria, Ariz., from 2016-present.
He and his wife Rebekah, née Laitinen, were married in New Ulm, Minn., on July 2, 2006. God has blessed them with four children: Levi (14), Kirsi (11), Katya (6), and Leia (3).
Shortly, Pastor Foxen and his family will head to Lusaka, Zambia. He will serve on the outreach committee of the One Africa Team as it seeks to engage the whole continent of Africa with the gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Rev. Conifer Berg – Missionary to London and the U.K.
Conifer Berg, son of Haley and Martin Berg, was born in 1995 in Appleton, Wis. He was confirmed at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Appleton. Conifer went to high school at Appleton North High School and graduated from Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis. He graduated from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., in 2017. He spent his vicar year serving at Christ Lutheran Church in Denver, Colo., graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., in 2022, and was assigned as a missionary to London and the U.K.
Conifer and Ruth Nitz were married in Appleton, Wis., on June 17, 2016. God-willing, Conifer and Ruth will be moving to the United Kingdom this summer. Conifer will be part of the Europe mission team as one of the missionaries to London. He is extremely honored to have this opportunity and looks forward to seeing first-hand the wonders God will do through his Word across the pond. Conifer is also a big football (soccer) fan and is excited to live and work in such a multi-cultural area of the world.
Rev. Samuel Lor – Campus Ministry pastor at St. John/True North Campus Ministry, Minneapolis, Minn.
Samuel Lor, son of Bounkeo and Fueyseng Lor, was born on February 24, 1994 in Redding, CA and was baptized at Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Kansas City, MO in 2002. He was confirmed in the Christian faith at Rock of Ages in 2008. He graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Martin Luther College in 2018. He graduated with a Master of Divinity from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2022, after having served as a vicar at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Watertown, SD from 2020-2021. Upon graduation, Samuel and his wife, Tina, were assigned to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and True North Campus Ministry.
Rev. Joel Prange – New Mission Start: Amazing Grace, Dickinson, N.D.
Joel Prange, son of Paul and Leanne Prange, was born August 9, 1995, and baptized at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Saginaw, Mich. He was confirmed in the Christian faith at St. John Lutheran Church in Burlington, Wis., on May 2, 2010. He graduated from Michigan Lutheran Seminary in 2014, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Martin Luther College in 2018, and graduated with a Master of Divinity from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2022.
He and his wife Lydia were married at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in La Crosse, Wis., on June 3, 2018. They are expecting their first child in late September.
Joel and Lydia will be heading to Dickinson, N.D., this summer. There he will serve as missionary for a new home mission start called Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.
Rev. Thomas Welch – Campus Ministry pastor at Peace/Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.
Thomas (Tommy) Welch, son of Tom and Pam Welch, was born on May 3, 1995, and was baptized at St. Paul’s in Livonia, Mich. He was confirmed at Mount Olive in Appleton, Wis., in 2009. He attended Fox Valley Lutheran High School for three years before his family moved to Miami, Fla., in 2012. He graduated from Divine Savior Academy in 2013. He went to Martin Luther College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2018. He graduated with a Master of Divinity from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2022 after serving as vicar at Living Savior Lutheran Church in Asheville, N.C., from 2020–2021.
Tommy married Grace Johnson on June 30, 2016, in Slinger, Wis., and the Lord has blessed them with three children. This summer, the family of five will be moving to Houghton, Mich. There, Pastor Welch will serve Peace Lutheran Church and minister to Michigan Technological University students through the WELS Campus Ministry program there.