“This is why, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I never stop giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Christ fully. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, just how rich his glorious inheritance among the saints is, and just how surpassingly great his power is for those of us who believe” (Ephesians 1:15-19).

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is not primarily a Christian denomination. It is not primarily a non-profit Christian organization. It is not primarily to be defined as a building in Waukesha or as a group of full-time leaders who direct the mission and ministry of our church body.

The synod, above all, is people. People like you, the members of your family, the people who sit beside you in church to worship, and the workers who have been called to serve in the public ministry. It is people—all of whom have been given an amazing mission by God to preserve his Word and to share that Word with the world. It is people who have been joined together in a common faith and to carry out a common mission.

No wonder the apostle Paul wrote the words above to his fellow Christians in the city of Ephesus. He thanked God for people whom God called to be his own and to serve him. He thanked God for the message that had worked faith and hope in the hearts of the people of Ephesus. And he prayed that God would continue to strengthen people to be faithful to him and faithful in carrying out their mission.

This annual report is really a story about God and his people. It’s a summary of the blessings that God has showered on our synod in the past year. It’s a snapshot of the many opportunities that God has placed before us and of how his Word has equipped his people to seize those opportunities to share the gospel.

“Join me in marveling at the grace of God.”

As you read this annual report, join me in marveling at the grace of God—the grace of God that has brought us into his family and given us an eternal inheritance, and the grace of God that has blessed the work that he has privileged us to carry out.

Serving with you in Christ,


Rev. Mark Schroeder, WELS President


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 1,250 churches, 340,511 baptized members, and 272,555 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 284 Lutheran elementary schools, 362 early childhood ministries, and 29 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., houses WELS’ areas of ministry and support staff as well as the subsidiaries, 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 for more information.

Tours to the WELS Visitor Center may be scheduled by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling 414-256-3200.




baptized members


communicant members


early childhood ministries


Lutheran elementary schools


area Lutheran high schools


WELS Connection – February 2022

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The purpose of WELS’ ministerial education program is the preparation of candidates for the public ministry of the gospel. Pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and missionaries are prepared to proclaim Christ’s love in the congregations, schools, and mission fields of our fellowship. WELS supports ministerial education on three levels at four schools—Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.; Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn,; Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis.; and Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich.

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Pictured above: “Here am I, send me!” On May 27, 2022, 26…

Martin Luther College

Pictured above: Richard Gurgel, president of Martin Luther College,…

Preparatory Schools

Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., and Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., prepare high school students for future service as pastors, teachers, and staff ministers.


Sharing the gospel in expected and unexpected places

Home Missions: The right place at the perfect time: Clark’s story

Together Video Update – June 14, 2022

World Missions

WELS World Missions conducts gospel outreach in 44 countries…

Home Missions

Pictured above: Foundation, Folsom, Calif. Clark Woods was in…

Joint Missions

WELS Joint Missions supports mission opportunities that are the…


WELS Connection – November 2022

WELS Connection – October 2022

Together Video Update – May 10, 2022

WELS Congregational Services

Pictured above: More than 2,220 teens and youth leaders traveled…

WELS Christian Aid and Relief

Community Care and Compassion grants In 2020, Bethlehem, Richland…

Support Services

Ministry of Christian Giving WELS Ministry of Christian Giving…


WELS Foundation: Charitable Gift Annuities

WELS Church Extension Fund

Pictured above: In 2022, Living Shepherd, Laramie, Wyo., bought…

Northwestern Publishing House

Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) provides Christ-centered,…

Financial Services

Financial Services provides finance and accounting services that…

WELS Benefit Plans

The WELS Benefit Plans Office (BPO) serves WELS and Evangelical…

WELS Foundation

Over the last three years, WELS Foundation has been privileged…

WELS Investment Funds

Despite the uncertainty of the last year, God continues to bless…