Northwestern Publishing House
Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) provides Christ-centered, biblically sound resources to the people of WELS and beyond. NPH publishes Forward in Christ and Meditations: Daily Devotional, elementary and Sunday school curricula, Bible studies, worship materials, music, and faith-strengthening books for WELS members. In 2020, NPH released more than 25 Christian resources in print and digital formats, including:
- Whatever Is True, A Christian View of Anxiety;
- Your Life Has Meaning;
- a vacation Bible school course, plus a “staycation” version for families at home;
- Hymns for Life, the first year of a new three-year hymnology course for Lutheran elementary schools;
- In God’s Orchard and Full Accessories of God, Bible studies for women by women;
- Civil Government, designed for small group study;
- 5-Minute Bible Studies for Teens and 5-Minute Bible Studies for Families; and
- 13 music offerings for organ, piano, choirs, and vocal solos.
NPH quickly responded to support churches and WELS members during the pandemic. NPH offered wellness supplies, resources for immediate digital download, and Faith Care Packages for those unable to attend church in person. Additionally, NPH introduced At-Home Christ-Light Sunday School with trained teachers presenting lessons via video (pictured above). The program is reaching children unable to attend traditional, in-person Sunday school.
Among other projects, NPH continues work on the new Christian Worship hymnal and its expansive suite of resources with an anticipated release in 2021.
Visit nph.net or call 800-662-6022 to learn more about the ministry of NPH.
WELS Benefit Plans
The WELS Benefit Plans Office (BPO) serves WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) workers and organizations through administration of the WELS Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) Health Plan, the WELS Pension Plan, and the WELS Shepherd Plan.
The WELS VEBA Health Plan provides benefits for church and school workers in accordance with God’s Word while remaining compliant with the federal health care reform law. The plan provides comprehensive, nationwide coverage. More than 80 percent of WELS workers and calling bodies participate in WELS VEBA.
The WELS Pension Plan provides WELS workers with a valuable source of guaranteed income during retirement.
The WELS Shepherd Plan provides workers the opportunity to save and invest a portion of their earnings to provide income during their retirement years.
One important advantage of participating in WELS Benefit Plans is that the coverage and benefits provided are uniform throughout all 50 states. This supports the WELS ministry and call process because worker call decisions are not influenced by health insurance and retirement benefit decisions.
Visit welsbpo.net for more information.
WELS Foundation exists to help God’s people support gospel ministry through WELS. WELS Foundation currently administers more than 1,200 donor-directed planned gifts, including endowment funds, donor advised funds, and gifts that provide income payments to the donor and/or their family members and loved ones. These planned gifts, generally established with the assistance of a WELS Christian giving counselor or other WELS mission advancement representative, benefit WELS congregations, schools, missions, and other affiliated ministries.
In fiscal year 2020, WELS Foundation was privileged to distribute $5.88 million in donor-directed gifts to various WELS ministries. This included $2.54 million to WELS Missions and Ministry Support, $1.92 million to WELS ministerial education schools, $88,000 to WELS Church Extension Fund, $810,000 to WELS congregations, and $522,000 to WELS-affiliated ministries and area Lutheran high schools.
Visit wels.net/foundation for more information.
WELS Church Extension Fund
Members of Christ the Rock, Hutto, Texas, wrote their favorite Bible passages on the building’s beams before the drywall went up. WELS Church Extension Fund provided more than $600,000 in home missions grants to Christ the Rock, along with a low-interest loan for the remainder of the cost of the land and construction of its new church.
WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc., (WELS CEF) provides financing through loans and grants to mission congregations so they can acquire land and ministry facilities to be used for gospel outreach in coordination with WELS Home Missions. WELS CEF also provides loans to self-supporting WELS congregations and schools for land and facility projects. The money to carry out WELS CEF’s mission comes from investments and gifts from WELS members, congregations, and affiliated organizations.
In fiscal year 2019–20, $24.2 million of new loans and $2.9 million of new grants were approved to mission and mission-minded self-supporting congregations. In addition, WELS CEF provided a grant of $1.06 million to the Board for Home Missions from its annual endowment distribution. WELS CEF ended fiscal year 2020 with assets of $211.2 million and net assets of $106.3 million. More than 3,100 WELS members invested $99.0 million. The loan portfolio held $182.8 million in 209 loans to congregations and affiliates.
For more information, visit wels.net/cef.
WELS Investment Funds
WELS Investment Funds is a self-supporting subsidiary of WELS. Its mission is to provide cost-effective, professionally managed investment portfolios exclusively for WELS-affiliated ministries. By pooling investment resources through WELS Investment Funds, congregations can take advantage of lower cost, institutionally priced investment alternatives that would not otherwise be available. As more congregations and WELS-affiliated ministries invest in WELS Investment Funds, the cost-reduction benefits increase. It’s another way we can help support each other.
As of September 30, 2020, WELS Investment Funds manages $251 million in assets, which includes $61 million for 216 congregations and affiliated ministries.
Visit wels.net/welsfunds for more information.
In July 2020, Kyle Egan started as WELS’ new chief financial officer (CFO) following the retirement of Todd Poppe, who served as WELS’ CFO for the past 16 years.
Financial Services provides accounting and financial services that support and serve WELS ministries. WELS has continued to be blessed with a solid financial position that allows the synod to maintain existing ministries and to branch out into new initiatives. However, 2020 has provided various challenges and changes that required the Financial Services team to be nimble in a time of uncertainty.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought forward many unforeseen impacts including working from home, the canceling of many large gatherings and in-person meetings, WELS schools transitioning to virtual learning, WELS congregations transitioning to virtual worship services, and abnormal fluctuations within Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) in the spring and early summer of 2020. CMO is critical to WELS’ financial position as it funds nearly three-quarters of WELS’ operating budget and decreased on average more than 11 percent from the end of March through May 2020. Thankfully, the Lord provided assistance during these months through various relief efforts that WELS was able to participate in, including the Paycheck Protection Program. CMO has since improved but is being watched closely in conjunction with the levels of WELS’ various reserves as they generally are utilized more in periods of flat or declining CMO.
In fall 2020, the collaborative process of developing the synod’s ministry financial plan (budget) for the next two years began among the areas of ministry, ministerial education schools, synod leadership, and the Synodical Council. The plan will be finalized at the 2021 synod convention in July.