MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

God’s people gather. That was one of the themes that defined 2021 for our synod. The pandemic caused great disruption and separation in 2020. Many, if not most, congregations needed to make major adjustments to their worship and ministries. Synod boards and committees continued to meet to carry out their work, but those meetings were held virtually. Travel was restricted and ministry projects were postponed.

But 2021 was a year in which God’s people once again gathered together for in-person corporate worship and for carrying out the mission that God has graciously given us. With great joy, the people of our synod gathered in their churches and schools to worship side by side, to attend classes, and to thank God for the precious gospel that he has made known to us.

As life began to return to normal, God continued to place gospel opportunities into our lives. His Word was preached, and his sacraments administered. Home missions were planted, and world mission work was expanded. Workers well trained for God’s harvest field were called and sent out to their fields of service. Congregations devoted themselves to focusing on stewardship, discipleship, and evangelism. Once again, as it did in the time of the apostles, the Word of the Lord grew—and so God continued building his Church among us.

One of the most pleasant and unexpected blessings was the fact that even in a year of “getting back to normal,” God opened the hearts of his people to provide more financial support than ever before for the work that we do together as a synod. Blessings like that should never surprise us, since God always provides more than we ask or imagine to enable us to carry out the mission he has given us.

This report reviews some of the many ways that God has blessed his work among us. As you read about them, join with the psalm writer in singing, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, for your love and faithfulness!”

Schroeder




Rev. Mark Schroeder, WELS President

WELS IN BRIEF

As a Christian church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s calling is to nurture the faith of our members and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

WELS is the third largest Lutheran church body in the United States with 1,264 churches, 344,244  baptized members, and 275,259  communicant members.  

WELS has 12 districts to allow for more area-specific ministry, personal contacts, and member involvement. 

WELS Congregational Services provides resources, training, and personal assistance to congregations, schools, and their leaders so that they may carry out gospel ministry in the most faithful way on the local level. 

WELS congregations—either individually or as federations—operate one of the largest parochial school systems in the United States. This system includes 282 Lutheran elementary schools, 368 early childhood ministries, and 27 area Lutheran high schools. Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., a liberal arts college for Christian men and women, is a WELS-affiliated ministry.

WELS maintains four schools for the education of our pastors, teachers, and staff ministers—Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis.; Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn.; Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis.; and Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Mich.  

WELS supports work in mission fields in the United States and in countries around the world.  

WELS is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, an organization of 34 confessional church bodies throughout the world.  

Five separately incorporated entities work closely with WELS to provide resources necessary to carry out WELS’ ministry.  

Known as the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, the synod’s headquarters in Waukesha, Wis., also houses the WELS Archives and the WELS Visitor Center. 

From collections that document the administration of WELS to individual congregational records, the WELS Archives helps preserve and share the history of our synod. Visit wels.net/archives for more information. 

Tours to the WELS Visitor Center resumed in 2021 and may be scheduled by e-mailing cmmtours@wels.net or by calling 414-256-3200. 

For more information about the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, including a directory of local congregations, visit wels.net.

1,264

churches

344,244

baptized members

275,259

communicant members

282

Lutheran elementary schools

368

early childhood ministries

27

area Lutheran high schools

CALLED TO PREPARE

October 2021 WELS Connection

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Pictured above: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary class of 2021 On…

Martin Luther College

Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., is committed to…

Preparatory Schools

Pictured above: Six Michigan Lutheran Seminary students participated…

CALLED TO PROCLAIM

April 2021 WELS Connection

November 2021 WELS Connection

Taste of Missions commissioning and Q&A

World Missions

Pictured above: Members of WELS’ One Africa Team with a delegation…

Home Missions

Pictured above: Christ Our Savior, Collinsville, Ill. The Board…

Joint Missions

WELS Missions commissioned five new missionaries during the closing…

CALLED TO SERVE

February 2021 WELS Connection

Congregational Services

Pictured above is Rev. Jonathan Scharf facilitating an Everyone…

The Foundation

“We rightly look at the opportunity to gather around Word and…

Support Services

Pictured above: WELS Christian Aid and Relief provided smokeless…

CALLED TO SUPPORT

Called To Support

Northwestern Publishing House Northwestern Publishing House…

WELS