Although each of WELS’ 1,300 congregations has its own spiritual leader (or pastor), the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) also is united together into a worldwide organization that allows congregations to work together on joint ministries, including training pastors, teachers, and staff ministers; sending out missionaries in the United States and the world; and producing materials.
The synod in convention is the legislative body that determines the direction the organization should head to fulfill its mission of making disciples throughout the world, using the gospel in Word and sacrament to win the lost for Christ, and nurturing fellow believers for lives of Christian service. Representatives from each of the synod’s 12 districts meet every other year to set the course for upcoming ministry.
The synod president is responsible for carrying out that ministry plan. Two leadership groups help the synod president. The Conference of Presidents funds and communicates that ministry plan as well as makes sure that WELS stays united in its teachings and practices. The Synodical Council is responsible for managing the activities of the synod, including coordinating ministries and determining a budget.
Described as theologically conservative, WELS is the third largest Lutheran church body in the United States with about 390,000 members and 1,300 congregations. Its headquarters is located in Waukesha, Wis.