Montana Synod

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Leaders and Staff     

Jessica Crist

The Bishop: The Rev Jessica Crist is Bishop of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A resident of Great Falls, she is married to Turner Graybill, a retired attorney. They are members of Bethel Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Montana. They have two adult children—Rhiannon, who is a professor in the religion department at Rhodes College in Memphis, and Raphael, a student at Yale Law School. Bishop Crist grew up in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Divinity School.

Prior to assuming the office of Bishop, Pastor Crist served as Associate to the Bishop for 5 years, and Director of the Northern Rockies Institute of Theology for 18 years. She served congregations in Great Falls, Montana, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and started in ministry as a campus pastor. She served on the Transition Team that helped put together the Montana Synod from the predecessor churches, and was elected Synod Secretary at the Constituting Convention. She served in that capacity for 12 years. She has worked with the Montana Association of Churches for many years, including serving as President, and as part of the teaching staff for the Lay Ministry Institute.

Her community service over the years has included chairing boards for the local YWCA, the PTA and the hospital’s Women’s Health Board. She writes a monthly column for Montana Woman Magazine.

Bishop Crist was elected Chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. She currently serves on the Board of the Montana Association of Churches, on the Board of Luther Seminary, and on the Board of Lutheran World Relief.

She is a member of the ELCA Task Force on Communal Discernment, the Bishops’ Liason Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, and the Bishops’ Domestic Ready Bench.

“I am honored to serve as the Bishop of the Montana Synod. As I travel the Synod and visit your congregations and ministries I get to function as an ambassador. I get to meet you and listen to your stories. And I get to share the story of the wider church with you. I pray for every congregation and every pastor and AIM each week. And I hope you will join me in praying for the whole church.”

Jason Asselstine

Associate to the Bishop: The Rev Jason Asselstine is the Associate to the Bishop. He is the newest member of the Montana Synod Staff and has served as the Associate Pastor to two congregations in Northwestern Minnesota (ya-sure-youbettcha), and Choteau, Montana. He grew up on a cattle ranch in California, attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Jason is married to Jennifer and together they have two children, Daniel and Taylor. As a family they enjoy traveling and exploring new places and meeting new people. They live in Choteau, where they are involved in many community and social activities through church and 4H.


Jason is a life-long Lutheran and an avid archer and outdoorsman. He is passionate about his faith and loves telling people about the love of God in Jesus. He enjoys using words like “intentional,” “authentic,” and “beautiful,” and is an eccentric mix of pastor, hunting guide, carpenter and philosopher. He loves people and the Church, and cannot wait to see what heaven is like.

Bob Quam

Staff Person for Candidacy: Robert Quam works with the Bishop and the Synod Candidacy

Committee in the ELCA process of identifying, shepherding, and approving ministerial leaders. He

has previously been part of the pastoral staff for congregations in North Dakota (Watford City), and in

Billings (Atonement, Peace). From 1975 through 2013 he served as pastor and director for Christikon. He

continues to reside in Billings, with Taurlin, his Schnauzer.

He grew up at Frazer, Montana, attended college at Concordia College (Moorhead), and studied at Yale

Divinity School and Luther Seminary.

He has served on the board of the ELCA Division for Ministry, as member and chair of the Montana

Synod and Region 1 Candidacy Committees, and on the board of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

He currently is on the Board of Regents of his alma mater, and treasurer and board member for the

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation.

Susan Hedahl

Executive Assistant: Susan A. Hedahl is the Executive Assistant for Administration for the Montana Synod. She started with the synod in January of 2002. Her experience comes from 25 years of work in the legal community, both with lawyers and a District Court Judge.


Susan oversees the office operations, the annual Montana Synod Assembly, the roster, communications, Synod Council meetings, and with administration and finances.


Susan has a Paralegal Associates Degree from the University of Great Falls. She has been involved on the congregational level and served on her church council (First English Lutheran, Great Falls). Susan became a Lay Pastoral Associate in 2010. An avid quilter, she is the mother of an adult daughter living in Seattle.

Susan Smith

Administrative Assistant:   Susan Smith is originally from Texas and has worked in the Synod office since September 2008.  She brings with her a variety of job skills and experiences from her travels with the military.  Susan works as the office receptionist and also as an administrative assistant.  She works with the MT Synod Mission Table, candidacy, RLP’s & MSP’s, LPA’s and LPA training program, special events coordinator and registrar, and general office support.

Susan earned her Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies in May 2009.  She volunteers her free time to Special Olympics and Spay of the Falls Spay/neuter animal clinics.

  Montana Synod Staff

Synod Council
(September, 2014)

L-R Bottom row: Ms. Lisa Jahraus, Ms. Sue Ost, Bishop Jessica Crist, Rev. Amanda Liggett

Middle Row: Ms. Jan Stocks, Rev. Peggy Paugh Leuzinger (Secretary), Ms. Cindy Larsen

Third Row: Mr. Eric Nord, Rev. Mark Taylor, Mr. Neal Wedum

Top Row: Mr. Tom Gossack (Vice-President), Mr. Ethan Paugh Leuzinger (Youth Representative), Mr. Doug Allie

Absent members: Mr. Harold Spilde (Treasurer), Rev. Brenda Satrum, Ms. Bev Larson, AIM, Ms. Cammy Sue Oakland



  • Bishop Jessica Crist (2019)
  • Vice-President Tom Gossack (2014)
  • Secretary Peggy Paugh-Leuzinger (2014)
  • Treasurer Harold Spilde (2015)


  • Bearpaw Cluster – Ms. Sue Ost (2014)
  • Beartooth Cluster - Mr. Eric Nord (2015)
  • Crazy Mountain Cluster - Ms. Cindy Larsen (2014)
  • Five Valleys Cluster - Rev. Brenda Satrum (2015)
  • Flathead Cluster – Ms. Bev Larson (2014)
  • Fort Peck Cluster – Mr. Doug Allie (2016)
  • Golden Triangle Cluster – Mr. Neal Wedum (2016)
  • Great Divide Cluster – Ms. Jan Stocks (2016)
  • Northeast Cluster – Rev. Al Beyer (2012)
  • Russell Country Cluster – Ms. Lisa Jahraus (2015)
  • Shepherd Cluster – Rev. Amanda Liggett (2016)
  • Southeast Cluster - Ms. Cammy Sue Oakland (2014)

Youth Representative

  • Mr. Ethan Leuzinger (2014)

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