Our Staff


Our Staff

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Wayne Puls

Senior Pastor


Pastor Wayne Puls began his ministry as Senior Pastor of Hope in August 2012. He is a native of Fraser, Michigan; and thus, a long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Before coming to Wake Forest, Pastor Puls spent his entire ministry career on Long Island in New York. After receiving a B.A. degree from Concordia College in Ann Arbor, MI in 1980, and a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 1984, he served for two years as Chaplain/Religion Teacher at Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, NY and as Youth Pastor at the Lutheran Church of St. John in Flushing, NY. In 1986, Pastor Puls was called to serve as Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hicksville, NY and as Senior Pastor in 1988. Pastor and Colleen have five grown children, and two mighty cute grandsons.

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Lew Upchurch

Associate Pastor


Pastor Lew grew up in Raeford, NC. He has been married to Lisa for over 20 years and they have five wonderful children-Maddie, Isabelle, Max, Mimi, and Phoebe. He is passionate about Gods love for all people in Christ Jesus and is honored to be able to share that love as part of Hopes Ministry Team. Lew enjoys spending time outdoors especially the time he can squeeze in running on the Neuse River Greenway or the Falls Lake Trail. He also enjoys a good microbrew and cooking for his family. 

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Preston Wagner

Pastor Emeritus


The Rev. Preston E. Wagner is Pastor Emeritus at Hope, having served as Mission Developer, Pastor and Senior Pastor from October 1, 1996 until his retirement on June 30, 2012.  Pastor Wagner and wife Lana remain active members of Hope and live in Heritage, Wake Forest, and have two grown children and two grandchildren.  Pastor Wagner provides occasional assistance with preaching, teaching and support to the pastoral staff.  Pastor Wagner graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Education in 1968 and received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1972.  He previously served as pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Freedom, PA; Holy Cross, Ashland, VA; Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Asheville, NC; and on the staff of the Southeastern District, LCMS, Alexandria, Va. prior to coming to Wake Forest. 

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Larry Lineberger

Assistant to the Pastor


The Rev. Larry R. Lineberger serves as part-time Assistant to the Pastor, providing occasional worship and preaching assistance. Pastor Lineberger retired from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Raleigh in 1999 and relocated to Wake Forest. He and his wife, Marlene are members of Hope.

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Mark Moretz



Vicar Mark Moretz is a native of Conover, North Carolina and lifelong member of the Lutheran Church. He is married to Janise and they have five children: Christen (25), Anna (16), Mary-Kate (14), Samuel (12), and Evan (10). Mark spent 30 years in the grocery industry with Lowes Food Stores managing different locations and later worked out of the corporate office. Mark moved to St. Louis in 2014 with his family to attend Concordia Seminary and has completed two years. Should he survive vicarage, he will return to St. Louis for his fourth year and graduate, be ordained, and receive a call in 2018. Mark likes spending time with his family canoeing, fishing, and hiking. 

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Beth Agner

Director of Christian Education and Children's Ministry


Beth Agner has served at Hope Lutheran Church since 2008 as the Director of Christian Education and Children’s Ministry. She grew up in Southern California and Southern Kentucky and graduated from Concordia University Irvine CA, in 2005. She received her Masters degree in Family Life Ministry at the end of 2009 from Concordia University Seward NE.  After taking her call to Hope, Beth met and married, Josh, a native to North Carolina.  Together they have a wonderful son named Bentley.  Beth has a passion for children and their families.  She is honored to be working alongside families of Hope as they build strong firm foundations in Christ.  Beth enjoys baking, playing sports, bike riding, and spending time with friends and families.

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Ryker Hampton

Youth Ministry Intern


Ryker Hampton is a Texas native who is very confused by the level of greenness found in North Carolina. He recently graduated with honors from Concordia University Texas as a Director of Christian Education. He is passionate about helping youth discover their calling in Christ and equipping them to reach their neighbors. An avid couch potato, Ryker enjoys video games, reading, watching sports, and eating. He looks forward to getting to know the people of Hope over the next year!

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Regina Fisher

Hope Lutheran Preschool Director


Regina Fisher has been the preschool director since its concept in 1997. She is a native of Goldsboro, NC, graduating from Meredith College in 1987 with a degree in Child Development and a Teaching License in K-6th. She earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 1991. Her teaching experience includes 19 years of working with children, parents and staff in providing an engaging, fun and safe environment in which to learn. Regina, her husband Mark, and their three children Shane, Stewart and Lindsay have all lived in Wake Forest since 1994 and are active members of Hope Lutheran Church.

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Erin Ames

Family Program Director


Erin Ames has been a member of Hope Lutheran Church for the past 4 years. She has taught Kingdom Kids, taught at Hope Lutheran’s preschool, and serves on the Children’s Ministry Team. She graduated from Salisbury University with a Business Degree and an Elementary Education degree and continued to get a Master’s degree in Curriculum Design. She taught 3rd Grade for six years, preschool for two years, Kindermusik and is currently leading/directing the Parent’s Morning Out program: Hope’s Little Blessings. Erin and her husband Bryan have four children, Camden, Jack, Gracie and Nathan. Erin loves working with children and is very passionate about teaching.

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Shannon Janosko

Parish Administrator


Shannon Janosko serves as the Parish Administrator, having previously served as Preschool Administrative Assistant since 2003. Shannon is a native of Raleigh, NC and attended Patricia Stevens Business College in Atlanta, GA in 1971. She is a charter member of Hope Lutheran Church. Shannon is also actively involved in the Service & Outreach ministries at Hope. Her life goal scripture is, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

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Amy Elder

Database & Communications Coordinator


Amy Elder has been a member of Hope since 2008. She is involved in various ministries including teaching the 5 & 6 grade Bible Class Sunday mornings. Amy graduated from Peace College with a degree in Human Services. Amy and her husband, Todd, have two children, Scott and Hannah. She is very active in the Wake Forest non-profit community where she has extensive experience in communications and volunteer management.

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Jan McCluskey



Jan McCluskey has been the bookkeeper at Hope Lutheran since the position was created in 2004. Jan is a ChristCare leader and is involved in youth ministry as well. Her family is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. She has been in Wake Forest and at Hope with her husband and two children since 2001.

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Carlin O'Brien

Receptionist/Office Assistant


Carlin O’Brien began working at Hope in October of 2011. Originally from Cary, she received a BS in Business Administration/Marketing from High Point University in 1995 and moved to the Outer Banks where she met her husband, Jim, and lived for 10 years. Together with their three children, Caden, Riley & Mason, they moved back to the area in 2007. Carlin and her family are members of Hope Lutheran Church and she serves on the Children’s Ministry Team.

Steve Ebberts

Facilities Manager


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Rob Varner

Organist and Choir Director


Rob Varner has been an active church musician for 22 years serving churches in the mid west, New Jersey, and North Carolina. He is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ where he majored in Sacred Music, Organ, and Choral Conducting.

Rob was been a music educator for the past 15 years in private and public schools and served as Director of Choral Activities in his last education position before moving to North Carolina. He has been invited to serve as a clinician for choral music festivals and has had the honor of sitting on the New Jersey Music Teachers PRAXIS Examination Board for new teachers. Rob is an accomplished organist, recitalist, and choral & instrumental conductor. He has collaborated with and has conducted members of the NJ Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and NJ Youth Symphony in concert with works including, Handel’s Messiah, Rutter’s Gloria and Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Brahms Requiem, and Bach’s Christmas & Easter Oratorios.

 Rob is also a composer and arranger of choral and instrumental music. He maintains a private voice and piano studio and is an avid accompanist and music coach.

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Joe Walters

Praise Team Director


Joe Walters was raised in Wake a Forest and Lexington, North Carolina and earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Piedmont Baptist college, Winston – Salem and earned a Master of Divinity degree, Church Music concentration, Southeastern Baptist Seminary. He has served Hope as the Director of the Praise Team since 2004. Joe and his wife, Dawn, have raised three children (now grown) and enjoys playing the keyboard, singing, boating, camping, fishing and hunting, and spending as much time as possible with his family.

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Kathy Vockeroth

Handbell Choir Director