John D. Eckrich
Dr. Eckrich has been a Lutheran physician serving the St. Louis community for over 40 years as a practicing Internist and Gastroenterologist, and in the past 23 years as Founder and now retired President/CEO of Grace Place Wellness. He was born and raised in St. Louis by parents deeply involved in the Lutheran faith community; his mother a long-serving church organist and volunteer, and his father as the President and CEO of Lutheran Medical Center. Dr. Eckrich attended Lutheran grade school and Lutheran High South in St. Louis. He then graduated from Washington University of St. Louis and the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, MO. He served his Internal Medicine internship and residency in Columbia, and finally finished medical training at the University of Chicago as a Fellow in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. In 1978, he returned with his wife Kathy, to practice with Grandel Medical Group and Southwest Medical Group in South St. Louis. There, along with his medical associate, Dr. Frede Mortensen, he cared for hundreds of Lutheran church workers and their families, Seminary professors and students, and many leaders at the LCMS-International Headquarters, observing the effects of stress and challenges of ministry on personal and family life. With these observations and concerns in hand, Dr. Eckrich gathered worker advocates together in 1999 to examine and develop health skills and strategies to proactively address the rising tide of church worker burnout and ill-health. This led to the creation of Grace Place Wellness, now in its 23rd year of service to the Church, having taken over 10,000 workers and families through Grace Place Wellness education and training. In addition to many lives enriched with good health practices, Dr. Eckrich believes that Grace Place Wellness has fundamentally changed the awareness and intentional health behavior of workers and their congregations toward leading lives of wellness and joy in personal pilgrim walk and professional ministry. He currently serves as a consultant to Grace Place and LCEF, and as author, lecturer, and consultant to church workers and congregations on health and wellness matters.