Pastoral Team

The Rev. Abraham D. Allende

Abraham Allende


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On May 17, 2014, The Reverend Abraham D. Allende was elected Bishop of the 180 congregations in the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He began serving as bishop on September 1. Prior to his election as bishop, Pastor Allende had been serving The Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights, Ohio, since September of 2009. Pastor Allende had previously served as Pastor and Mission Developer of Iglesia Luterana La Trinidad in Canton, Ohio. He was ordained as minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on January 18, 2003. A second-career pastor, Reverend Allende has held successful positions in the fields of education, broadcasting and as a professional baseball executive. He is a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico and reared in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Pastor Allende and his wife, Linda, currently make their home in Plain Township with their cat, Milagros (Mili). He has one adult son, David, a resident of Akron.


The Rev. Karl Biermann

Karl Biermann

Assistant to the Bishop

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A Trinity Lutheran Seminary graduate, Pastor Karl Biermann served as a parish pastor for 10 years in his native Texas before the people of the Northeastern Ohio Synod called him to serve as assistant to the bishop. His primary responsibility is to match rostered leaders with congregations through the call process – which can seem more like a matchmaking art than a science!

Pr. Karl was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio, where German immigrants settled in the 1840s, established Lutheran congregations, and kept speaking a mix of German and English prominently into the 1960s. Perhaps this is why about the only hint of “Texas speak” that you will hear from Pr. Karl is the occasional “y’all” or “all y’all”!

Pr. Karl and his wife, Lana, enjoyed the people, fun attractions, and seasons in Ohio during his seminary studies in Columbus and his pastoral internship at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Upper Arlington (Columbus). Both are excited to live in Ohio again, where they reside in Stow, with their 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son.


The Rev. Julianne D. Smith

Director of Evangelical Mission

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After serving 31 years as a parish pastor, the Rev. Julianne D. Smith accepted the call to serve as deployed Churchwide Staff in Northeastern Ohio Synod. Ohio “born and bred,” she grew up in Greenville, Ohio and studied biology at Wittenberg University, graduating in 1980. She received her M. Div. from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in 1985. Pastor Smith’s congregational calls include, St. Mark Lutheran in Ada, Ohio, First Lutheran and the LIFE cooperative in Upper “nowhere near Cedar Point” Sandusky, Ohio, and Prince of Peace Lutheran in Poland, Ohio. She also served as interim with First Lutheran in Plymouth, Ohio and contracted with Christ Lutheran in Struthers. She also served as Dean of the Eastern Conference in Northeastern Ohio Synod.

Pastor Smith is married to Stuart Smith, an hydrogeologist specializing in ground water wells, and they have two adult daughters, one son-in-law, and one granddaughter.  Pastor Smith and Stuart reside in Poland, Ohio, and are members of Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Youngstown.

Auxiliary Team

The Rev. Angel Jackson

Candidacy Coordinator

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Pastor Angel Jackson has served as the Coordinator of Candidacy and First Call Theological Education since July 2019.  She really enjoys conversations with God’s children who are discerning their call to ministry of all kinds.

Pastor Jackson grew up in Louisville, Ohio.  She is a graduate of Capital University and got her MDiv at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and her Masters of Social Work at the University of Chicago.

In addition to her candidacy responsibilities, she serves as pastor with the people of St. John Lutheran, McZena, OH.  She shares her house with her kids, Sophie and Asher and her yard with her chickens, Sugar and Cocoa and lots of flowers and butterflies!


Deacon Mary Ann Schwabe

Mary Ann Schabe

Congregational Resource Team (CRTeam) Coordinator


Natural Systems Coordinator, Office of the Presiding Bishop

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Mary Ann Schwabe is the Natural Systems Coordinator in the Office of the Presiding Bishop for the churchwide office in Chicago. She also works contractually for our synod in coordination of the synod Congregational Resource Team as it promotes well-being in its leaders and congregations through the use of family systems theory. Prior to her calls to the synod and churchwide staff, she served congregations as a rostered ELCA Associate in Ministry with a focus in church music, religious education, and family ministry. Mary Ann and her husband Rick are parents of 5 adult children and 6 grandchildren.


Mary Ann Sima

Mary Ann Sima

Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) Liason






Resource Center

Karen Kaufman

Karen Kaufman

Resource Specialist


Karen Kaufman has served as the synod resource specialist since 1996 after previously serving the church as a workshop leader in Christian Education and Evangelism. Karen also serves as staff liaison for the synod nominating committee and the area ministry strategy task force which plans the spring and fall bishop gatherings. She currently provides support for the synod stewardship think tank and other projects as needed. As a member of the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers our synod as well as the greater church benefit from this network of excellent curators of resources for congregational ministry.


Administrative Team

Sony Gilroy

Sony Gilroy

Office Administrator

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Sony joined the Bishop’s support staff in 2005 as a part-time secretary with the directive to make the synod office more electronic in its communications. After serving part-time as both the synod office’s electronic communications person and office manager at St. Mark, Tallmadge, she is now the full-time Office Administrator for the Synod office. Among other things, Sony oversees facilities management and scheduling, coordinates the Synod Assembly, and produces the synod’s electronic communications. Sony lives in Cuyahoga Falls with her husband Tim and their son. They are members of St. Luke’s, Cuyahoga Falls and very involved with their community with Relay For Life, Boy Scouts and numerous sporting and school activities with their son.


Marilyn Matevia

Marilyn MateviaAdministrative Assistant / Statistician

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Marilyn joined the synod staff in 2016 as Administrative Assistant and Statistician. Marilyn maintains the bishop’s calendar and synod roster, coordinates Synod Council and Conference Dean meetings, maintains the synod website, and produces the “Unified” – the synod’s bimonthly newsletter. As the synod’s statistician, she tracks congregational demographics and benevolence. A native of Ohio, Marilyn lived in San Francisco, California for 20 years, but returned to the Midwest in 2015 to be closer to family members. She completed a doctoral degree from Graduate Theological Union in 2012, and when classroom opportunities arise, enjoys adjunct teaching and writing about Christian environmental ethics, animal theology, and social justice. She is discerning a call to ministry and in 2017 was admitted to candidacy in the TEEM program. Marilyn and her spouse have a large family of adopted dogs and cats, and tend a collection of bird feeders that attract most of the sparrows and starlings in western Cleveland.


Synod Accountant

Joy Hacker, CPA

Joy Hacker

Synod Accountant

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