Annual Report

Want to order a FREE printed copy of Your Gifts, God’s Blessings: An annual report to our members? Visit Northwestern Publishing House online to order your copies.


“These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. . . .
See, I have placed before you an open door”
(Revelation 3:7,8).

We stand before an open door. The Son of David opened the door to God’s family and household with his life, death, and resurrection. It’s a door standing open for sinners like us, a door thrown open by the grace and mercy of a God who found a way for sinful people to be with him, at his side, as members of his family.

It’s a door that is opened not only for us. It’s been opened for a world of sinners living in the darkness outside of God’s family, with no hope and no future other than eternal darkness.

Our synod is comprised of nearly 400,000 people who have been brought through that door and into God’s family. Because we know the truth of his gospel message and joy of God’s forgiveness in Christ, we have gathered together as a synod to bring as many people as possible through that same doorway to God’s household.

In this annual report, you will see examples of how God is enabling us to do just that, as we work together to strengthen congregations, train future church workers, and plant the seed of the gospel at home and around the world.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace.

May we continue to work together to seize the opportunities that God gives us as we carry out his mission to bring more people through that open door into his family.

Serving 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 1,270 churches, 369,221 baptized members, and 293,228 communicant members.




baptized members


communicant members

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

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 congregations—either individually or as federations—operate one of the largest parochial school systems in the United States. This system includes 313 Lutheran elementary schools, 403 early childhood ministries, and 25 area Lutheran high schools.

The synod’s headquarters is located in Waukesha, Wis.


Lutheran elementary schools


early childhood ministries


area Lutheran high schools


Missions conducts gospel outreach in the United States, Canada, and 23 foreign countries through seed sowing and evangelism efforts, congregation and church planting, training ethnic and national workers for ministry, and providing religious materials in foreign languages.


WELS Home Missions is called to proclaim God’s Word to those in the United States and English-speaking North America. It also supports campus ministries, multi-cultural ministries, and a variety of other mission activities in North America.

In 2016, the Board for Home Missions authorized eight new mission starts, three ministry enhancements, and one relocation.


Rockwall, Tex.


Victoria, Tex.


Stevens Point, Wis.


Meridian, Idaho


Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Lehi, Utah


Fredericksburg, Va.


Atlanta, Ga.

Rockwall, Tex.Connected with Divine Peace in Garland, Tex., this multi-site mission will have two locations for worship but one leadership team and budget.
Victoria, Tex.A second pastor is needed to serve this new multi-site mission of Redeemer, Edna, Tex., which offers both English and Spanish worship each Sunday.
Stevens Point, Wis.In 2015, Divine Word, Plover, Wis., called a second pastor to focus on campus ministry as well as reach out in the community. Divine Word has purchased a building for a campus center and second worship site.
Meridian, IdahoCross of Christ, Boise, Idaho, is starting this multi-site mission to serve families living in the neighboring city of Meridian.
Coeur d’Alene, IdahoMembers of St. Matthew, Spokane, Wash., will support this mission, located about 35 miles away.
Lehi, UtahPrince of Peace, Salt Lake City, is starting this mission in an area that has a strong Mormon presence.
Fredricksburg, Va.Members from Trinity, Woodbridge, Va., are eager to start a mission in this growing community about 40 miles away.
Atlanta, Ga.The city of Atlanta is ringed by seven WELS churches. Over the past two years, WELS members have been holding Bible studies in the city, and a core group has been established.

Living Savior, Blair, Neb.

On Sept. 11, 2016, Living Savior, Blair, Neb., held its launch…

Peace, Liberty Hill, Tex.

When Rev. Stephen Apt arrived to open a new home mission in Liberty…

Saviour of the Nations, Vancouver

In March 2009, 13 people met with Rev. Geoff Cortright to worship…


World Missions has a presence in 23 different countries;

  • serves 79,780 baptized members in Lutheran churches;
  • serves 60,000 more souls through correspondence and workshops;
  • is training more than 160 men to become pastors in their own countries;
  • is assisting national pastors to train hundreds of people to be Sunday school teachers, liturgists, evangelists, and leaders in congregations in their home countries;
  • is exploring outreach possibilities in 14 additional countries;
  • supports 38 missionaries, 9 teachers, and more than 60 lay workers in our missions; and
  • is reaching more than 1,000,000 via Internet outreach.

Christ-centered resources

Christ-centered resources from Academia Cristo (Christ Academy)…

Lutheran Church of Cameroon

In 2016, the Lutheran Church of Cameroon took a big step toward…

Nigerian church bodies

WELS began its mission efforts in Nigeria in 1936. Currently…

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries, WELS’ sister church…


WELS Ministerial Education works to provide workers for the more than 1,200 churches and 750 schools in the synod. WELS provides this education through a system of four schools: two high-school-level preparatory schools, a college, and a seminary.


Partnering with Christians worldwide

The Pastoral Studies Institute team of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary…

Vicar Year

While serving as a vicar at Water of Life, Las Vegas, Nev., Jason…

Academic success at MLC

“I love what I do,” says Jessica Zahrt, who teaches kindergarten…

Taste of Ministry

Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., and Luther…


WELS supports several areas of ministry that strive to “go and make disciples.” These WELS ministries not only reach out to the world, they also support WELS congregations and members. From missions, to humanitarian aid, to special needs and evangelism, each group faithfully serves to reflect Christ’s Love as Our Calling.

WELS visitor center

In fall 2016, a WELS visitor center opened at the WELS Center…

CAR in Baton Rouge, La.

In August 2016, Baton Rouge, La., received torrential downpours…

WELS Mobile

WELS Mobile, available for Apple, Android, and Amazon users,…

MCG coordinates One in Christ effort

WELS Ministry of Christian Giving coordinated the “One…

CLS better equips WELS teachers for their important work

Lutheran Schools is seeking to address the need for principals…

Women's Ministry focuses on mentoring

On July 21–23, 2016, the WELS Women’s Ministry Conference…

Telling the Next Generation, WELS’ outreach website, was redesigned…

Commission launches its School of Strategic Planning

In the past two years, the Commission on Congregational Counseling…

CYFM debuts new downloadable resource

WELS Youth and Family Ministry debuted a new downloadable resource…

Two series of studies held in 2016

Two series of Interactive Faith Bible studies were held in 2016.…

A new referral link

A new referral link,, has made it easier to…

Worship resources for Reformation 500

The Commission on Worship has developed resources to assist…

2016 WELS International Youth Rally

More than 2,500 WELS teens and their adult leaders gathered for…


These organizations work closely with the synod to support ministry, missions, congregations, and workers. They offer health and retirement benefits for called workers, investment opportunities that support missions, legacy giving options, and literature and resources rooted in Lutheran doctrine.

WELS benefits

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

Financing for mission congregations

WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc., (WELS CEF) provides financing…

Professionally managed investment portfolios

WELS Investment Funds is a self-supporting subsidiary of WELS.…

Helping people support ministry

WELS Foundation exists to help God’s people support gospel…

NPH celebrates 125 years in 2016

Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) exists to deliver Christ-centered,…

Want to order a FREE printed copy of Your Gifts, God’s Blessings: An annual report to our members? Visit Northwestern Publishing House online to order your copies.