ISJ Faculty and Staff
Mr. Pifer has experience working in a variety of church settings - from being a Youth Pastor, to being an Associate Pastor, to being the Supervisor of the YouthBuild Program at Bethany Christian Services. In addition, Mr. Pifer has served our country as a member of the Marine Corps Infantry. Mr. Pifer has a passion for being a lifelong learner. He has Bachelor of Science from Cornerstone University; a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling; and is working on a Doctor of Education at Liberty University. Additionally, he loves to connect with people of all ages and walks of life so that he can share with them the love of Christ. Mr. Pifer and his wife and two children live in Grand Haven.
Mrs. Godbold has always had a heart for Lutheran schools. She comes from a family with over 100 years of service in Lutheran schools and congregations. She followed in her parents’ and three sisters’ footsteps by receiving a degree in Elementary Education from Concordia University Chicago. Mrs. Godbold isn’t new to the ISJ family as she taught 2nd grade 24 years ago before taking a pause to raise her three daughters. Throughout the years she has been privileged to serve children from age 3 to grade 8, but for the past 10 years her passion has been sharing the love of Jesus with preschoolers and their families at Saint Mark Lutheran in Kentwood.
Mrs. Godbold lives in Caledonia with her husband, Paul, and three daughters. She enjoys summers with her family at her in-laws’ cottage. Besides teaching Jesus’ little lambs, reading, taking walks, and baking goodies bring her much joy. She and her family are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Pre-K Teacher and Early Childhood Center Director
Ms. Welch has been serving as a Lutheran early childhood educator for over 20 years. She has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. During her career she has taught children from the ages of six weeks to six years old, coached middle school basketball and volleyball. She serves on the Lutheran Education Association's Early Childhood Educators Network Leadership Team and is currently serving the Michigan District as an Early Childhood Consultant and a member of the Early Childhood Cabinet. Ms. Welch is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher
Mrs. Wilhelm is excited to be returning to the ISJ family! Her children were blessed to attend ISJ in their early grades before the family moved from the area. A love for helping children learn led her to earn a master’s degree in Elementary Education in 2013. Since then, she has taught a combination first and second grade class at Grant Christian School and, most recently, was the Director of Youth and Family Ministry at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Greenville. Mrs. Wilhelm has coached basketball (all ages from 4th grade through Varsity) and softball (little league and JV). When Mrs. Wilhelm isn’t teaching children, she and her husband, Pastor Jeff Wilhelm, enjoy spending time with their adult children and young grandchildren, playing pickleball, and studying God’s word with their small groups. Mrs. Wilhelm currently attends St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Ada where her husband is serving as the Interim Pastor.
Second and Third Grade Teacher
Mrs. Schaeffer has worked in the field of education for over twenty years, first as a homeschooler and then as a teacher for the Edmonton Public School Board in Alberta, Canada. Mrs. Schaeffer's strengths as an educator are working with students with behavioral challenges, classroom management, project based learning, meaningful assessment, and literacy. And, if you are wondering, yes, Mrs. Schaeffer is related to Pastor Glenn Schaeffer. They have been married for forty years and have four children, a son-in-law and two grandchildren.
Fourth and Fifth Grade Teacher
Ms. Butler teaches 5th- 8th grade Reading and Language Arts classes at ISJ. She completed her degree in Special Education and Elementary Education at Aquinas College. Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Butler worked at ISJ Academy as an Early Childhood Aide. She is an alumnus of West Michigan Lutheran High and ISJ Academy. Ms. Butler is a member of St. James Lutheran Church. She enjoys cooking and spending time with her family and friends. She loves being a part of the ISJ family.
Early Childhood Teacher
Early Childhood Aide/Aftercare
Ms. Faith lives in Grand Rapids. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Communications from Cornerstone University in 2020. She primarily works as an early childhood aide and aftercare teacher at ISJ, but also wears the hats of occasional substitute teacher and content creator for ISJ’s social media pages. When she’s not a ISJ, she has her own photography business and volunteers with Frontline Community Church’s children’s ministry. She loves all things cow related and driving down to Ohio to spend time with family.
Early Childhood Aide
Mrs. Spletzer lives in Belmont with her husband, Bruce, and two boys, Nathan and Owen. She is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has worked in ISJ's Early Childhood Program since 2013. She enjoys books and the Detroit Tigers, and hopes to visit every MLB ballpark.
Pastor Glenn Schaeffer
Interim Acting Administrator
Pastor Glenn Schaeffer was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and has spent most of his ministry serving God’s church in Canada. Pastor Schaeffer has been a child of God since June 18, 1961, when he was baptized as a three-month-old infant in the name of the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. During Pastor Schaeffer’s years as a missionary, pastor, or District leader, he has been involved in establishing several churches, shepherding two congregations, and serving as the Mission Executive and District President of the Alberta-British Columbia District (ABC District) of Lutheran Church – Canada. He is thrilled to be serving as pastor at St. James church and ISJ Academy. Pastor Schaeffer enjoys developing, training, and sending Jesus’ followers as God’s missionary people into their communities.
Pastor Craig Bickel
Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church
Pastor Craig Bickel was born and raised in Frankenmuth, Michigan. He has served churches in Pensacola FL, Shelby Twp., MI and currently in Grand Rapids. He and his wife Sharon, have been blessed with three children. Pastor Bickel wakes up every morning new, forgiven, and loved by Jesus. When asked what Immanuel is to him, he says, "Immanuel is an amazing family of faith, people who want to serve our city in sacrificial ways, and a congregation that want to see 'God's Kingdom grow' among us. Immanuel is wonderful also because of the partnership with St. James in sharing God's word, truth and love through ISJ Academy." Pastor Bickel dreams to one day meditate on scripture in the ancient churches of Ethiopia, to sing praise to God in Taize, France, and to see his children committing to love and cherish their spouses.
Pastor Thomas Gustafson
Discipleship Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church
Pastor Thomas Gustafson is the Discipleship Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church. He is passionate about God’s people being life-long learners of the Word of God. Pastor Thomas loves seeing other people get excited talking and hearing about Jesus, especially when people learn what Jesus and the Word of God really teach! When he is not teaching Christian Doctrine at ISJ, you can find him at a local coffee shop discipling and mentoring other Christians, spending time with his wonderful family, or checking out one of Grand Rapid’s professional sports teams (Go Whitecaps!). He has many, but one of his favorite bible verses comes from 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 – “One God and One Lord.” He can’t wait to see you at ISJ!