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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 six mighty cute grandchildren.

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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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James Kirk



Vicar James grew up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. He graduated from Concordia College in Chicago in 2019, and in the same year, started seminary at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is overjoyed and excited to get to tell people about Jesus in this corner of the country. James loves to be outdoors, preferring a good hike, road biking, or disc golf. He is also an avid football fan, adoring the Green Bay Packers.

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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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Beth Agner

Lead Director of Christian Education


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 two wonderful sons, Bentley and Finn.  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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Steve McCarthy

Director of Christian Education


Steven McCarthy grew up in the beautiful, rainy state of Washington. He attended Concordia University Irvine and graduated with honors as a Director of Christian Education with a minor in Global Cultural Studies. He began his ministry at Hope in 2017 as an intern and then accepted the call to work as a full-time DCE in the summer of 2018.  His job responsibilities include, but are not limited to: 5th-6th grade confirmation, 7-8th grade youth ministry, community service and outreach, disaster relief, congregational ministries, and leading the young adult program. In his free time Steven loves to explore the great outdoors. His hobbies include, but are not limited to: gardening, disc golf, trail running, biking, hiking, camping, fishing, ultimate Frisbee, ping pong, playing piano, going to concerts, reading, watching TV with Wesley, and playing video games.

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Wesley Spottiswood

Director of Christian Education


Wesley Spottiswood is a city boy from Los Angeles California. Wesley graduated in 2017 from Concordia University Irvine receiving his BA in Christian Educational Leadership with a minor in Missiology. He is passionate about engaging youth and equipping each and every person to defend their faith in Jesus Christ. Wesley is responsible for 7/8 and High School ministry, Small Group ministry, and Mission’s here at Hope. He enjoys watching Netflix but is always up for an adventure as he has traveled around the world going to 29 countries.

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Amy Elder

Communications Manager


Amy Elder has been an active member at Hope since 2008, and honored to work on staff since 2011. In addition to all things communications, she enjoys volunteering with various ministries including the Live Nativity, the youth, serving communion, and the Night To Shine Prom. Amy graduated from Peace College with a bachelor's degree in Human Services. She and her husband, Todd, have two teenage children, Scott and Hannah. Amy loves to read, craft, and most importantly spend time with her family. 

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Hilary Tew

Operations Manager


Hilary Tew joined the Hope team in 2017 and manages the areas of finance and facilities. She and her husband Luke volunteer with Hope’s disaster relief ministries; and Hilary and daughter Jazmyn help make monthly care packages with Hope’s J.O.Y. group (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last). Hilary earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature and enjoys studying foreign languages regularly. She especially loves traveling and doing anything active—running, hiking, gardening, practicing martial arts and playing various sports.

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Kelly Faris

Administrative Assistant


Kelly Faris joined our team in 2018 and is thrilled to serve as an Administrative Assistant.  She has attended Hope since moving to Wake Forest with her family from Columbus, Ohio in 2010.  She has served in many areas of ministry including confirmation, vacation bible school, American Heritage Girls, J.O.Y small group, and our Ministry Leadership Team.  Kelly earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio University in secondary mathematics education followed by her Master’s Degree from Marygrove College. Kelly and her husband, Brian, have three girls, Addison, Emmerson and Peyton.  She most enjoys the time spent with her family and traveling. 

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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.