A ministry partnership in Europe

How can WELS best reach and serve all its members across Europe? This question brought together a cohort in Munich, Germany, during the first week of April.

Rev. Joel Gaertner, director of WELS Commission on Special Ministries, and Mr. Paul Wolfgramm, Military Services Committee chairman, traveled to Germany for two weeks over Easter where they visited different places where the chaplaincy does ministry; attended the annual European Easter retreat held by the Military Services European chaplaincy; and also met with Rev. Luke Wolfgramm, Europe team leader; his wife, Jennifer, Europe team integrator; Rev. Rob Weiss, European civilian chaplain; and his wife, Rachel.

The WELS European Chaplaincy has been serving WELS military members and civilians across Europe for more than 50 years as a ministry of WELS Military Services, which is part of WELS Special Ministries. More recently, a new opportunity for mission work has emerged. In recent years, many members from WELS’ sister churches around the world have been moving to the U.K. In response to this opportunity, WELS World Missions planted a new mission field in the U.K. in 2022. Rev. Michael Hartman was called and Rev. Conifer Berg was assigned to begin serving the group already gathering in London, connect with contacts from other sister church bodies, and launch outreach efforts.

The representatives from WELS Military Services met with Luke Wolfgramm, the team leader for World Missions in Europe, to discuss how the group of WELS pastors working abroad can best serve all WELS members living across Europe.

Gaertner says, “The biggest thing is making sure that we provide the opportunity to serve as many people as possible in Europe and in England with Word and sacrament.”

The group plans on meeting regularly to evaluate how it is working together. Gaertner says, “There’s going to be communication between Conifer Berg on the London team and Rob Weiss, the European chaplain, when we find out there’s a military person there. They will determine how the spiritual needs of that member can best be met. The big point is we will continue to serve them, but it will be based on where they’re located in England—whether the Europe team serves them or is it better for the European chaplain to serve them.”

Members in the military and their families are encouraged to go to wels.net/refer to be put in contact with WELS Military Services. Civilians moving to England can contact Rev. Conifer Berg to notify the ministry team of their desire for Word and sacrament.


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