Annual Report 2021

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

The year 2020 was a year unlike any we have ever experienced. We lived through the impeachment of a president. We suffered through a pandemic that has changed everything. We experienced an economic collapse that closed thousands of businesses and threw millions of people out of work. We saw racial division and violence on the streets of our cities. And then there was that little thing called a presidential election at a time of deep political divide over the future of our nation. Even though there is much about 2020 that we would like to forget, it’s probably a year that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Yet, through it all, God demonstrated once again that he is always true to his promises. He has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. He has promised that all things will work out for the good of those who love him. He has promised that the gospel of Christ cannot be shackled or silenced, and that the Word of God will always accomplish his saving purpose. All promises kept.

Despite the challenges, disruptions, and distractions of the past year, God enabled our congregations to preach the saving gospel and find creative ways to worship. He enabled us to educate our children even though they couldn’t always be in the classroom. He moved his people to support the work of their congregations and the synod with their prayers and generous offerings. He built his church, one precious soul at a time, as the Holy Spirit continued to do his work through the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ.

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!”

Serving with you in Christ,

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 1,269 churches, 349,014 baptized members, and 278,901 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 281 Lutheran elementary schools, 369 early childhood ministries, and 26 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 32 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. In 2019, the WELS Archives answered more than 175 research questions and added more than a dozen collections to the archival holdings. From collections that document the administration of WELS to individual congregational records, the WELS Archives helps preserve and share the history of our synod. For more information on what materials to donate, how to contact the synod archivist, or to access the online catalog, visit wels.net/archives.

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

1,269

churches

349,014

baptized members

278,901

communicant members

281

Lutheran elementary schools

369

early childhood ministries

26

area Lutheran high schools

CALLED TO PREPARE

Preparatory Schools

Pictured above: Elijah Ha volunteered at St. Paul, Saginaw,…

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Pictured above: Teaching during a pandemic The seminary has…

Martin Luther College

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

CALLED TO PROCLAIM

Joint Missions

Pictured above: Taste and See Taste and See, a first-of-its-kind…

World Missions

Pictured above: Training the next generation Eight men from…

Home Missions

Ten families from Our Savior, San Antonio, Texas, make up the…

CALLED TO SERVE

Support Services

Christian Aid and Relief Rev. Dan Sims became the first full-time…

Congregational Services

Pictured above: WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools has been…

2020 Leadership Conference

WELS Congregational Services hosted the first ever WELS National…

CALLED TO SUPPORT

Called To Support

Northwestern Publishing House Northwestern Publishing House…

WELS