Since 1964, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) has faithfully hosted annual conventions, gathering to joyfully praise God and support WELS mission work. The year 2020 was to be no exception. Plans were well underway for the 57th annual convention in Athens, Ga., in June. The theme, “2020 Vision for Missions,” was chosen, and hours of planning were already complete.
Then the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, and for the first time in 57 years, LWMS made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel its in-person convention.
“The decision to cancel was agonizing,” recalls LWMS president Mrs. Cynthia Natsis. “But by the end of April, it became obvious that travel and staying in hotels would be dangerous to our members.”
Despite its deep disappointment, the LWMS team adapted to the situation. If people couldn’t come to the convention, LWMS would bring the convention to them—by way of technology.
Through a partnership with WELS Missions, the LWMS convention was combined with WELS Taste of Missions—another in-person event that was cancelled due to the pandemic. “Taste and See,” the combined virtual event, was born. LWMS and WELS Missions staff brainstormed how to offer key elements of both events in an engaging and interactive online format.
On June 27, the Taste and See virtual event launched. For two weeks, thousands of WELS members worldwide tuned in to view the opening and closing worship services, “Moments with Missionaries” videos, recipe tutorials from around the globe, the commissioning of new missionaries, and the inspiring LWMS flag presentation. Viewers even hosted “watch parties” for the opening and closing services.
Natsis is simply in awe of how God blessed the event. “Due to the new format, we were able to reach so many more people than if we had held it in person,” she says.
Mr. Sean Young, director of WELS Missions operations, was also thrilled with the number of Taste and See website visitors, totaling over 9,300. He says, “I thought we’d get a few thousand views. But from the opening service to the final day, God again demonstrated that we can’t pray audaciously enough! He continues to be glorified in the work his church on earth is able to do.”
Even during a pandemic, God advances his kingdom. Through Taste and See, God moved the hearts of his people to contribute the largest service offering to date for an LWMS convention: $72,925.
“I am blown away at the generosity of my fellow believers and their love for spreading the good news about Jesus,” says Natsis. She and the LWMS board extend their gratitude to all who participated to support WELS mission work: “Thank you for making this time of uncertainty about the virus a time of rejoicing instead. God is good!”
Visit welstasteandsee.com to view more than 80 videos and additional resources from the event. The website also includes a handy checklist of available videos, which will remain online for at least a year.