The Rev. Denver Bitner, D.Min., President/CEO
The Rev. Denver Bitner, D.Min., joined Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) as the agency’s president and CEO in February 2009.
Founded in 1867, LSSI is a statewide not-for-profit social service agency of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI provides a broad array of community-based and residential services to people of all ages, races and beliefs, and touches the lives of nearly 73,000 people annually. LSSI has an annual operating budget of $100 million and employs 2,124 people.
Pastor Bitner came to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois from Zion Lutheran Church in Rockford, where he served for 36 years — 22 of those as its senior pastor. Located in one of the nation’s poorest communities, Zion is a large, inner-city church with a racially diverse membership of approximately 1,800. Under Pastor Bitner’s leadership, the church developed three social ministry organizations, including Zion Development Corporation, an award-winning organization that works in the areas of employment, economic development, and housing renewal and rehabilitation.
Pastor Bitner earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wittenberg University; a Master of Theological Studies degree from Hamma School of Theology; a Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
Pastor Bitner served on LSSI’s Board of Directors (2004–2007) and on the board of the ELCA’s Division of Church in Society (1997–2003), overseeing the work of the division with national and global social service ministries, and chairing the board (2000–2003). He currently serves as a consultant on Urban and Multicultural Ministries for ELCA’s Northern Illinois Synod.
Pastor Bitner and his wife, Pam, have three children and two grandchildren. His interests include community development, global missions, interfaith collaboration and service on a number of agency boards, including The Epilepsy Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Patriots’ Gateway Center and The Rockford Interfaith Council.