WELS Commission on Inter-church Relations

The WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations (CICR) maintains relationships with church bodies all over the world, often through the platform of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).

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Church bodies around the world

Headquartered in the Ogoja area of Cross River State, All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria was founded by confessional Lutherans in 1991. They discovered their sister synod, Christ the King Lutheran Church—Nigeria, in 1998, and have been in fellowship with WELS since 2001. A church body of more than 20 congregations, All Saints purchased property in Abakpa, just beyond the southwest edge of Ogoja, in 2013. The first building there for a synod office and meeting space was dedicated in July 2014. In August 2016, the synod dedicated a dormitory for students training for the ministry of the gospel. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Congregations on the Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache reservations in Arizona are members of the Arizona-California District of WELS. Apache pastors and members of those congregations exercise a certain autonomy in partnership with WELS World Missions. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Argentina. For more information, see WELS Missions.

A WELS member in the United States has become a US citizen but has maintained relationships in his home country of Bangladesh. He has partnered with WELS to bring the gospel to many contacts, working with refugees in both countries, and setting up educational programs for those who want to be trained in evangelism.

WELS continues to encourage and support a small group of Bolivian members who separated in fellowship from the Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (FIEL) and want to continue being instructed in sound biblical and confessional doctrine. This new Lutheran church, the Christian Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church (ICELC), is in full confessional agreement with all the doctrines of the Bible and with the Lutheran Confessions. Located in La Paz, it is reaching out to other areas of Bolivia and connecting with people identified as eager learners and church planters by the WELS Academia Cristo program. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Founded in 1987, the the Brazilian Lutheran Church is self-supporting and an independent mission partner of the WELS Latin America mission team. Today there are two congregations and one preaching station. The congregation in Gravataí, Rio Grande do Sul, is served by Pastor Elcy da Costa Stark, a graduate of the seminary program. His wife Noeli aids him in his work. He teaches school to support himself while leading the congregation called “Jesus, the Savior.” In Dourados, the congregation “Star of Bethlehem” continues to be led by volunteer Missionary Charles Flunker, aided by his wife Beth. Alongside him works Evangelist Gilberto Andrade da Silva, who preaches and teaches while also driving a truck to support himself and his family. Two young men are in leadership training classes. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries of India, headquartered in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, maintains its own website in English, Hindi, and Telugu at http://celm.in/ With over 5,000 members in 145 congregations and preaching places, it operates both preseminary and seminary programs, and produces Lutheran educational materials in Telugu and Hindi. Working with CELM, WELS operates five children’s homes for poor children and orphans, and supports Gentle Shepherd Lutheran Elementary School, which offers free, quality education to 220 children. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Christ the King Lutheran Church—Nigeria, headquartered in the Akwa Ibom State, was founded in 1969 when three pastors serving nine congregations realized that the Lutheran Church in Nigeria was teaching false doctrine. They have been in fellowship with WELS since 1981, and they declared fellowship with their sister synod, All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria, in 2000. The main cluster of CKLCN congregations lie in a triangle with points at Uyo, Abak, and Ikot Ekpene. One congregation meets in Port Harcourt in Rivers State. Six congregations are in Calabar and rural areas around this major city in Cross River State. CKLCN has a busy system of leaders, organizations, boards, and committees, including a Development Committee, a Mission Board, and a Welfare Committee. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

This church body is the result of mission work that began in 1992 in Santiago. For more information, see CELC and the Facebook page Cristianos Luteranos in Chile.

Four congregations make up this church body. They are led by local Chinese evangelists and pastors. Regular ministry includes weekly worship, membership classes, and Bible classes. Outreach to the lost is on the hearts of our CLEC leaders as they seek to work more actively with their congregations in evangelism. For more information, see WELS Missions.

There are four established congregations as the result of work that began in 1992. The mission headquarters are located in Akademgorodok. The congregation in Akademgorodok offers regular worship services, advanced classes, and Bible information classes. Bibles and other sound Christian literature are offered and humanitarian aid is distributed. A deaconess teaches Bible lessons to a local school for children with special needs. Missionaries conduct ESL outreach. Akademgorodok is also the home of the seminary program. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Congregations in Tirana and Durres are served by two Albanian pastors, Agron Mece and Mikel Bishka. Pastor Mikel Bishka’s son, Nikolla, was recently installed as the third Albanian national pastor, working alongside the other two. For more information, see WELS Missions. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

Since 1857, faithful Lutheran missionaries have been proclaiming the gospel in Mexico. Hundreds of members support ten congregations and 13 preaching stations around the country, all served by Mexican nationals. The WELS contact for the work is Pastor Paul Biedenbender. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Established in 1999, the Confessional Lutheran Church in Latvia has seven congregations with pastors who were either trained in the ELS Seminary or in Concordia, St. Louis, and the Latvian University Faculty of Theology. The headquarters of the Confessional Lutheran Church in Latvia are located in Riga. For more information, see CELC.

Three congregations in Bogotá and Medellín operate six additional preaching stations in Quibdó, Valledupar, Cartago, and Santa Marta. For more information, see WELS Missions.

This synod in Liberia is connected to Isaac David, a WELS member in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pastors in the synod are studying with WELS missionaries to enter our fellowship. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Costa Rica. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Cuba. For more information, see WELS Missions.

In 1991, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was established in Plzen. Since that time, two other congregations have been established. The Czech Evangelical Lutheran Church was accepted into membership of the CELC in 2002. In June 2009, the first two Czech clergy were ordained. They serve St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Plzen, which houses Martin Luther School (MLS), currently educating over 200 Czech children. For more information, see CELC.

Two congregations with almost 100 baptized members are served by nationals in the areas of Moca and Santiago. For more information, see WELS Missions.

In 2017, Ecuador was identified as a promising country for new mission efforts. Two Latin American missionaries relocated to Quito in 2018. Martin Luther College students and graduates regularly take Spanish classes and do internships in Quito and have been able to connect to the mission work as well. The mission in Ecuador has recently been officially incorporated so that missionaries are able to legally remain in the country for an extended amounts of time. The mission team continues to teach classes in various parts of Quito as well as following up on contacts and opportunities in other areas of the country. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Work began in the 1960s in Guayama and Humacao. A chapel was built in Barrancas in 1972. In the late 1980s, work was started in the San Juan area. In 1990, the national church body was organized. Two years later, the national church assembly adopted goals for maturity and independence by 2004. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

In 1871, an independent congregation formed in Saxony and was founded in 1876. This was the first Lutheran Free church located in the region of a Lutheran state church. Within a few years, the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church spread throughout all German states. The congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church are located throughout Germany and West Austria.  The ELFK is blessed with its own Lutheran School, Seminary, and Publishing House. The Dr. Martin Luther School is situated in Zwickau and has 150 kids, classes 1-4. At the seminary in Leipzig, students from Germany and other countries study theology in order to become pastors of the ELFK or CELC sister churches. The Concordia Buchhandlung is a bookstore in Zwickau. For more information, see CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota, is an American Lutheran church body of 130 congregations in full fellowship with WELS. Members transfer freely between WELS and ELS congregations, and the leaders of the two groups enjoy strong working relationships. The ELS operates missions throughout the United States and in seven countries around the world. The ELS also operates Bethany Lutheran College and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, both located in Mankato. For more information, see CELC.

Rev. Peter B. Prange serves St. Paul Lutheran Church in Maeyborough, along with preaching stations in Gympie and Nanango.

The work of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Peru is located in Lima, Chimbote, the Andes Mountains of Ancash, and the Amazon Jungle area around Tarapoto. The Church’s 12 clergy (plus a similar number of vicars) were educated at its Seminary in Lima. For more information, see CELC.

Over 1,000 members worship at almost 30 congregations. All pastors are Indonesian nationals who were trained in the country. Groundbreaking for a new seminary facility took place in May 2019. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Haitian national pastor Rona Abraham provides leadership in forming new church groups and in training future called workers for Haiti. He oversees the work in congregations in Leogane (3), Cape Haitian, Pilate, and Petit-Goave, plus several exploratory groups throughout the country. He also coordinates work in many orphanages. For more information, see WELS Missions.

It all started when Zang Lou, a leader within the Hmong Fellowship Church (HFC) in Vietnam, viewed an online sermon by WELS Pastor Bounkeo Lor in 2011. The clear proclamation of law and gospel and the message of pure grace through Jesus Christ was something he had never heard before, and he wanted to learn more. That same year, Zang Lou invited Lor to come to Vietnam to train the HFC in the truth of the gospel. Lor made his first training visit in 2012. Since that time, Lor has made almost 30 trips to Hanoi, Vietnam. To assist in his training, members of the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) began to accompany him on some of these trips starting in 2016. With every visit Lor has made to conduct training in Hanoi, approximately 60 church leaders have attended to learn more about the truths of the Bible. These same 60 leaders have been taking the message back to their rural congregations, preaching the message of salvation by faith, not by works – something the members had never heard before. The HFC was a church body of 55,000 members when Zang Lou first reached out to WELS. In the years WELS has provided training, the HFC has grown from 55,000 to over 120,000 members and formed many new churches. HFC leaders have seen the growth and the joy that Lutheran teaching has brought to their congregations and have expressed a desire to become a confessional Lutheran church body. For more information, see WELS Missions.

In 2014, Pastor Alvien De Guzman reached out to WELS World Missions via email, asking if we would consider doing mission work in the Philippines. In early 2015, representatives from the WELS Asia-Pacific Rim Administrative Committee conducted a colloquy with De Guzman and determined that he was in doctrinal fellowship with WELS. Pastor De Guzman requested copies of “The Promise” and “The Road to Emmaus” to bring the message of God’s grace in Christ to a largely Catholic population. He began translating these materials in the local language of Tagalog for WELS Multi-Language Publications. In early 2018, two men who had left another church body for doctrinal reasons contacted De Guzman wondering if they might join his congregation. Pastor De Guzman is now working with the Asia-Pacific Rim Administrative Committee and the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) to put together a plan for a pastoral training program, with the goal of training these two men to be pastors. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The LCC headquarters is established at Kumba in a subdivision called Barombi Kang. This is the site of the Lutheran Theological Seminary. There is a chapel, two dormitory units, a classroom unit, and a cafeteria. There are seven congregations in the Kumba area. There is another area, called the Western Bakossi area, with thirteen congregations and two preaching stations located about 50 miles to the northwest. There is also a cluster of 12 congregations about 200 miles to the north in what is called the Northwest District of Meta and Bafut areas. For more information, see WELS Missions and  CELC.

Missionary trips were made into Malawi from Zambia in 1962. On June 16, 1963, services began in Blantyre, Malawi. In 1969, a teacher training school was opened in Lusaka, Zambia. In 1981, part of the worker training school was transferred to Lilongwe, Malawi. Today, Malawi heads the Lutheran Bible Institute while Zambia runs the Seminary. From its beginning in 1963, Malawi has seen steady growth in every aspect of the work. Today, there are over 47,000 baptized souls in Malawi. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Over 10,000 members in more than 100 congregations are served by more than 30 pastors, all trained in the seminary in Lusaka. It has maintained its traditional liturgical practice in its worship, which is uniform throughout the synod. Congregations follow the same order of service both in English and Local languages. They use the same hymns, follow the church calendar, and participate in all church festivals. It is their practice to hold a convention every two years where we elect synod office bearers. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

Lutheran missionaries from Northern Europe first arrived in Ethiopia in the late 19th century. In 1959, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) was incorporated as a national church affiliated with the Lutheran World Federation. The Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE) was founded as a confessional Lutheran Church body in 2012 by Dr. Kebede Yigezu Getachew, who left the EECMY for doctrinal reasons. After several years of talks with WELS representatives, the LCE and WELS declared fellowship at synod convention in 2017. For more information, see WELS Missions. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

Pastor Artur Villares leads the confessional Lutheran congregations in Lisbon and Porto (Gaia). There is a new group of Christians being served by Pastor Villares in the city of Ponte de Lima. Rev. Villares assists with outreach planning and work in Portuguese-speaking countries like Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

The Lutheran Confessional Church in Finland was founded 2002. Activity first began in 1979 when some Finnish Christians became members of the LBK in Sweden. The first congregation in Finland, Evankelis Luterilainen Tunnustuskirkko, was founded in 1988. This congregation and Haukiputaan luterilainen vapaaseurakunta, Lutheran free congregation in Haukipudas, established in 1997, joined in fellowship in 1999. These two are now registered as the Lutheran Confessional Church in Finland. One congregation is located in the capital, Helsinki, in southern Finland. The other is in Haukipudas, close to the city of Oulu in northern Finland. One preaching station is located in Vaasa in western Finland. For more information, see CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

Den Lutherske Bekjennelseskirke, the Lutheran Confessional Church in Norway, had its beginning in 1978. A group of believers had become more and more troubled by the situation in their national state church. Help came from neighboring country Sweden, where a free Lutheran Confessional Church had been founded in 1974. Through the Biblicum institute for Biblical research and its director, Dr. Seth Erlandsson, the Norwegians were greatly strengthened. Two new congregations were founded at Avaldsnes and Stavanger on the southwestern coast of Norway. From the start, they were members of the Lutheran Confessional Church centered in Sweden (which also had members in Finland). However, since 2009 the congregations in Norway have been organized as an independent Norwegian church body while maintaining close ties with the sister churches in Sweden and Finland. For more information, see CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

In October 1968, the Biblicum Foundation was established on the initiative of Doctor David Hedegård and Dean G.A. Danell. The reason was the apostasy from the Word of God at the theological facilities and inside the national church of Sweden. A group of young Christians in Uppsala had for several years gathered around Doctor Hedegård for studies of the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism. In the autumn of 1970, the group called docent Seth Erlandsson to conduct services every Sunday, to assist Dr. Hedegård with preaching, and to administer the Sacraments. In 1972, pastor Per Jonsson in Landskrona published articles in favor of leaving the state-church and establishing a free Lutheran confessional church. On his proposal, Biblicum invited Dr. Siegbert Becker (WELS) to Sweden in the autumn of 1972 for lectures on important Biblical doctrines. In 1973, Erlandsson and Jonsson announced that they planned to leave the state-church, which resulted in establishing a free Lutheran congregation in September 1973 named St. Matteus. Two more congregations were formed in the summer 1974. Bible studies in Yxenhult in the south of Sweden under the leadership of Erlandsson resulted in establishing the St. Johannes congregation in Yxenhult. Per Jonsson formed Vår Frälsares lutherska församling (Our Savior’s Lutheran congregation) in Landskrona and became its pastor. In September 7, 1974, members of the three congregations met in Uppsala and constituted LBK, Lutherska Bekännelsekyrkan (The Lutheran Confessional Church). During the next seven years, six more congregations were established, among them two in Norway. For more information, see CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

Lutheran missionaries from Sweden began working in Kenya in 1948. The Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ – Kenya (LCMC–Kenya) was formed when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya began to tolerate false teachings. A group of Kenyan pastors broke away and began searching for a confessional Lutheran church body. In 2015, Rev. Mark Onunda of the LCMC–Kenya met at length with the Doctrinal Committee of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Zambia Synod (LCCA–Zambia). The LCCA–Zambia synod declared formal fellowship with the LCMC–Kenya in September 2018, and WELS followed suit at synod convention in 2019. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The history of the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church (LECC) began in April 1957. The Delegate Church Council (Delegate Convention of the LECC) first met on April 9, 1962. Three weeks later, the Delegate Church Council (DCC) ratified the documents of incorporation. By the end of the summer, the Japanese government had accepted the documents of incorporation of the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church (LECC). With this step, all legal requirements were completed and the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church became a legally recognized church in Japan. With the further development of the LECC, the delegates of the DCC in session made a detailed study of the doctrinal statements of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Upon completion of those studies, the delegates of the LECC declared that they were in doctrinal agreement and requested a formal declaration of fellowship with the WELS. In its 1981 convention, the WELS responded with a formal declaration of fellowship. Ten years later, the members of the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church were delighted to be one of the founding churches of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. Almost 400 baptized members in six congregations and one preaching station, together with their pastors, continue a vigorous outreach to the millions of people who do not know their Savior. For more information, see CELC. To help with CICR efforts here, you may donate using this page.

Four ordained pastors guide work done by many people in three districts: Rajahmundry, Hyderabad, and Jabalpur. The work includes seminary classes, orphanages, and schools. For more information, see ELS Missions.

Churches of our fellowship do a great deal of humanitarian work in Nepal. For more information, contact the WELS Mission office.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Nicaragua. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Rev. Andrew Burmeister serves Our Redeemer, a Christ-centered confessional Lutheran congregation located in northside Brisbane, Queensland. For more information, see their website.

The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Pakistan is experiencing inward and outward growth. It holds Bible Institute, training students and their wives to oversee house churches. It also holds workshops for the teachers in 17 Sunday Schools. There are non-formal schools for children who otherwise would not receive an education. Each of the 13 non-formal schools serves about 20 students. The Bible Correspondence and Teaching School has distributed Christian literature to 55,567 students. WELS Christian Aid and Relief continues to provide humanitarian aid through free medical clinics, earthquake and flood relief, charity for the poor, and sewing classes. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Paraguay. For more information, see WELS Missions.

This synod in Liberia is connected to Matthew Cephus, a WELS member in New Hope, Minnesota. Pastors in the synod are studying with WELS missionaries to become confessional Lutherans. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Rev. Jean Claude Marinagaba, the leader of the Reformed Lutheran Church of Rwanda (RLCR), has the desire to connect with Martin Luther’s true spiritual heirs, and is in conversations with WELS on important doctrinal topics. For more information, see WELS Missions.

St. Johannes Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was founded in 2008 by a handful people coming out of both the former Finnish state church and the Pietistic Awakening movements. Proud of its past and eager about its future, the congregation counts about twenty members. The congregation works in the Swedish language among the Swedish-speaking minority on the West coast of Finland. It holds regular worship in two locations, offers Bible studies, Sunday school, along with lectures on doctrinal topics by its pastors and teacher. For more information, see CELC.

A congregation originally named East Seoul Canaan Church (ESCC) was started in June of 2005 when the Rev. Young Ha Kim was sent back to his homeland by the ELS Board for Foreign Missions (now Board for World Outreach). He started Bible studies and Sunday worship services with a handful of people. Pastor Kim has retired, and at present, the congregation is served by Pastor Choi. More than 200 people gather for Sunday worship. Church membership is over 350 people, including students in the United States. Each year during the past six years, about 20 people were baptized and more than 40 people have become members. Our Korean church body is officially named “Jesus Lutheran Church.” For more information see ELS Missions.

Located in Hong Kong, SALEM carries out faithful Lutheran ministry on the island. Pastors are trained at Asia Lutheran Seminary. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Rev. Peter Bur, a refugee from South Sudan, came to Omaha, Nebraska and began worshiping at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in 2010. He enrolled in the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in partnership with the WELS Joint Mission Council. He graduated in 2015 and was assigned to serve as Sudanese Ministry Coordinator for WELS Joint Missions. In this role, Rev. Bur coordinates the pastoral training of South Sudanese leaders in North America and also in refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The work is centered in three regions of northern Thailand and includes sixteen mission fields. Hmong missions in Chiang Rai, Lao missionary Tom Chaleunsouk in northeast Thailand, and the Thai pastor who leads the work based in Chiang Mai all work closely together. For more information, see WELS Missions.

With 11 congregations and over 700 members, this church body requested an initial meeting in 2018 with a Malawian pastor and two WELS missionaries for training and fellowship discussions. Two trips were made in 2019 for teaching and visiting more of the congregations, and three more trips are planned in 2020. For more information, see WELS Missions.

The Ukrainian Lutheran Church has a substantial historic background in Ukraine as well as its devotees and martyrs, who gave their lives for Ukrainian Christian work. Its origins go back to the times of the apostles and their faith, which is preached by the Church in the Nicene Creed. The creation of a separate Lutheran church body took place in the 16th century. Due to the Reformation, the Word of God was translated into European languages, including Ukrainian (Peresop Gospel is based on Lutheran Bible translations; Presidents of Ukraine are attested on it), and the church preached pure Gospel, turning into a truly people’s church that cared about the salvation of its faithful people. That church was called the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession. Many Lutheran congregations appeared in Ukraine in the 16th century. The second renaissance Ukrainian Lutheranism experienced was in the period between the First and Second World Wars. There was a chance to openly preach Christ in the western regions of Ukraine, which were under Polish occupation. A group of orthodox and Greek-Catholic priests turned to ancient evangelical principles. They managed to unite a considerable number of faithful into the Ukrainian Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession, the direct ancestor of the present Lutheran church. This church managed to preserve and develop the eastern Ukrainian custom/worship, which is based on the liturgy developed by John Chrysostom. The communist regime tried to destroy the church. Since 1979, the Ukrainian Lutheran Church has started to revive. Since Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, ULC congregations have been organized in Kyiv, Lviv, Ternopil, Kremenets, Zaporizhzhya, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Kharkiv, Mykolayiv, Kherson, Mariupol, and other towns in Ukraine. For more information, see WELS Missions and CELC.

The WELS Academia Cristo program has identified men who want to become confessional Lutheran teachers and church planters. These men are organizing themselves to spread the gospel in their native country of Venezuela. For more information, see WELS Missions.

Over the years, many Zimbabweans have come to live in Zambia. Some of them have joined our Lutheran Church and then taken our teachings to their relatives back home in Zimbabwe. As a result, we have a Zimbabwe pastor who was trained in Malawi and Zambia who now lives and serves his congregation back home in Zimbabwe. For more information, see WELS Missions.

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Get all the synod information you need through WELS’ official reports.