Called To Support

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

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.


Financial Services

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.

Support Services

Christian Aid and Relief

Rev. Dan Sims became the first full-time director of WELS Christian Aid and Relief in July 2020. Sims (left) is pictured here with a couple that was helped by Christian Aid and Relief in August after strong storms blew through Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Having a pastor serve full time in this position will allow more time to develop an intensive program—including a printed training manual and video materials—to prepare and train congregations and their leaders in disaster response before a disaster hits. Another goal is to establish and equip disaster relief coordinators in each district to assess and oversee local disaster response.

But Sims wants to do more than just respond to disasters; he wants to create a compassionate spirit in WELS congregations to help those who are suffering in their communities. He says that not only does that follow Christ’s command to “do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10), but also “if [the neighborhood residents] can see WELS congregations and people as caring and active in helping with physical needs, then we gain more opportunities to talk with them about their spiritual needs and their Savior.”

For more information, visit wels.net/relief.

 


WELS Communication Services

WELS Communication Services helped coordinate synod resources to keep WELS congregations, schools, and members informed on how COVID-19 was affecting ministries and resources to help them adapt during the pandemic. All the information was featured on wels.net under the title “As we face COVID-19.”

Forward in Christ, WELS’ official monthly magazine, launched its redesigned magazine in January 2020. Taking into account answers and comments from the reader survey that Forward in Christ conducted in 2019, the magazine now includes new columns, old favorites, and a fresh design, all presented to help 21st-century Christians grow in their faith. Forward in Christ also debuted a new website as well as Facebook and Instagram pages. For more information, visit forwardinchrist.net.

 


WELS Ministry of Christian Giving

WELS Ministry of Christian Giving serves on behalf of the Conference of Presidents to encourage every WELS member to “excel in the grace of giving” through Christ. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Ministry of Christian Giving has continued assisting members with their Christian giving goals via phone meetings, web conferencing, and in-person visits.

WELS Ministry of Christian Giving has been involved with Martin Luther College’s “Equipping Christian Witnesses” campaign to recruit more called workers, increase tuition assistance, and build needed facilities so that WELS will have more called workers to meet growing worldwide ministry opportunities. Just over $5 million in gifts, pledges, and commitments had been received as of late 2020.

To request free, confidential assistance with a gift to your church, synod, or WELS-affiliated ministry, visit wels.net/Christian-giving or call 800-827-5482.

 


Technology

In 2020, WELS Technology helped pastors, teachers, and synod workers at the Center for Mission and Ministry adjust their work during the pandemic. WELS Technology helped lead the conversation on topics such as livestreaming and video conferencing options and how technology can help advance ministry, especially during a time when large groups of Christians can’t meet in person. Pictured is Timothy Walsh presenting a Facebook Live devotion in spring 2020 when he served as a vicar at Grace, Falls Church, Va.

 

 

Congregational Services

Pictured above:
WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools has been working with teachers and other school leaders to help navigate the quickly-changing landscape of education during COVID-19. WELS schools are still committed to providing a strong Christian education for their students. New schools are even continuing to open. Pictured are teachers from Divine Savior Academy–Santa Rita Ranch, Liberty Hill, Texas, on the first day of this new school in August 2020.


Website offers resources and training modules

WELS Congregational Services offers resources and training modules for congregations at welscongregationalservices.net. This year, new resources include:

  • Congregational Evangelism Kit: Video-based training for congregational evangelism leaders to ensure that a congregation has a solid foundation to reach the lost in its community.
  • Youth ministry made simple: Video and print resources that offer straightforward tips for starting an effective yet simple youth ministry.
  • C20—The greatest gift: This Christmas outreach program provides materials for congregations to invite neighbors to Christmas Eve services.
  • Acoustics and audio for worship: Learn what factors need to be considered when creating a worship environment that enhances the spoken word and allows for dynamic singing as well as takes into consideration those who need hearing assistance.
  • COVID-19—For such a time as this: Articles and resources to assist pastors and congregations as they serve their members and communities during the pandemic. A follow-up resource titled “Resuming worship in a pandemic” was also shared.

 


Military Services

The Christian Service Members’ Handbook was developed by WELS Special Ministries, the Lutheran Military Support Group, and Northwestern Publishing House to help those in the military stay strong in their faith in places where a pastor or fellow believer might not be available. The book is divided into five sections—prayer, meditations and devotions, Scriptures, hymns, and the Small Catechism. Military members can receive this book—and other spiritual resources—for free by filling out a referral form at wels.net/refer.

 


Online faith-building resources grow

In 2020, WELS Discipleship began offering a variety of new resources to help members grow in their faith.

  • Family devotions: Offered three times per week, these devotions coincide with the previous Sunday’s Bible readings. In addition to Scripture, each devotion includes a set of questions for different age groups, a prayer, and hymn verses that can be sung or spoken. They are available at wels.net/family-devotions.
  • Marriage moments: This new series of videos explores one marriage thought per week as well as a question or exercise “for further thought”—all in two minutes or less. For more information or to subscribe, visit welscongregationalservices.net/marriage-moments.
  • Youth Bible study—Focused living in Christ: Rev. Joel Russow has written a new four-part Bible study for teens based on Colossians 3:12-15 that includes video lessons. Find the study at wels.net/youth-ministry.

New hymnal resources introduced

A new website, christianworship.com, was launched in January 2020 to share details about the new Christian Worship hymnal. The site highlights features of the upcoming hymnal as well as the suite of resources that will accompany it. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated new resource is Christian Worship: Service Builder, a powerful software tool that will save worship planners and staff members considerable time as they design worship services. Visit christianworship.com to watch videos and learn more about the new hymnal and the many new resources that will complement it.

 


Did you know?

Daily devotions continue to be delivered to the e-mail inboxes of more than 11,000 people each weekday. Thousands more read the devotions on wels.net or via the WELS Facebook page.

 

Joint Missions

Pictured above: Taste and See
Taste and See, a first-of-its-kind online event co-hosted by the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society and WELS Missions, launched in summer 2020 to allow all WELS members to experience WELS Missions. This event included live worship services, question and answer panels, devotions, presentations, video updates from home and world missionaries, cooking tutorials, and more. Visit welstasteandsee.com to see all that was offered.


Outreach to Muslims

Haris (name changed due to the sensitive nature of his work), originally from a Muslim nation in South Asia, lives in the Midwest and is enrolled in the Pastoral Studies Institute. He writes: 

When the coronavirus started, I was thinking . . . how can we reach out to the large Muslim population in our community to show the love of Christ? I was talking to my friend, and he said, “I know of WELS churches that are making face masks! They will make masks for you to share with the Muslims.” So we started distributing food to our Muslim neighborhood along with the face masks. People in the community donated groceries and money to buy food. We delivered food and masks on more than 20 different occasions. People drove up in their cars, and we put the groceries in their vehicles. We also dropped off food on people’s porches. Counting only the early drive-thrus, we helped 504 families and assisted 64 families who had a family member with coronavirus. Everyone knows I am a Christian, and they know this help comes because of the love of Jesus for all people.

 


The Global South Sudanese Committee met in February 2020 at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary to discuss South Sudanese ministry occurring in North America and in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Pictured is the committee worshiping together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Missions

Pictured above: Training the next generation
Eight men from the Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Zambia and the Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Malawi completed their six years of theological training and received their vicar assignments from the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia, on May 29, 2020.


WELS World Missions conducts and encourages gospel outreach in 40 foreign countries and is exploring outreach opportunities in 17 additional countries. World Missions brings the light of God’s Word through evangelism efforts, church planting, training national workers for ministry, and providing religious materials in foreign languages through Multi-Language Productions. Thirty-nine world missionaries partner with more than 400 national pastors to conduct outreach and train more than 380 students for service in Christ’s kingdom.

World Missions supports mission work:

  • on the Apache reservations in Arizona, where the gospel is being shared in eight churches, one preaching station, and two Lutheran elementary schools;
  • in Africa, where missionaries and national church partners from six existing countries are exploring mission work in nine additional African countries;
  • in Asia, where the newly formed Asia One Team is coordinating resources and partnering with sister synods to reach out with the gospel to Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, and Muslim individuals in nine different countries;
  • in East Asia, where missionaries are coaching and mentoring 45 mission group leaders in spite of tightening security, and Asia Lutheran Seminary is reaching hundreds of new students through new online classes;
  • in Latin America, where the Academia Cristo online training tool is walking more than 345 people through self-led classes, and missionaries have identified more than 25 men in 11 different countries as potential church planters;
  • in Europe, where national churches are partnering with WELS missionaries and the Pastoral Studies Institute to train the next generation of church leaders;
  • through Multi-Language Productions, which has produced confessional Christian content in more than 56 languages and on a variety of platforms.

Our mission in Pakistan has 28 house churches, 25 Sunday schools, 14 non-formal schools, and 1 all-day Christian school and high school with 400 students—all in a Muslim country that is hostile to Christians.

 

 

 

 

 


The Latin America missions team is partnering with Pastor Henry, a missionary from our sister synod in Medellín, Colombia, to help others start churches in Colombia and Venezuela.

 

 

 

 

 


WELS representatives were not able to make their planned training visits to Vietnam in 2020 because of COVID-19, and the building of a theological center in Hanoi has been delayed. Therefore the WELS Vietnam planning group provided phones and internet connectivity to all Hmong Fellowship Church leaders to participate in online training. In November 2020, 57 leaders tuned in for the first week of instruction via Zoom. These leaders take what they learn in these lessons and share it with their rural congregations and villages.

 


Connecting with Christians around the world

WELS Multi-Language Productions produces confessional Christian content in more than 56 languages. The majority of its products are evangelism and Bible study materials in the form of video, music, podcasts, and print. Multi-Language Productions has recently introduced a new online Bible-based training platform called TELL (Think, Evaluate, Learn, and Lead) to bring the gospel to English-speakers around the world. TELL students are encouraged to complete online self-led courses, participate in deeper studies with a live online instructor, and then lead a local group in Bible study or worship. Rev. Dan Laitinen is serving as a TELL missionary, helping to coordinate this mission work.

Samuel (pictured) is a TELL student from Guinea, Africa. “My greatest desire is to be well-equipped for mission work,” says Samuel. Like thousands of others, Samuel found TELL on Facebook. He then downloaded the TELL app and completed all the self-learning courses. Now Samuel is meeting twice a week in a video classroom with a TELL instructor and other students.

“I used to believe in a gospel that was preaching prosperity and miracles mostly,” Samuel says, “but I discovered this misleads believers. It focuses on earthly things and makes us forget heavenly things. Now I’m mission-minded.”

 

Home Missions

Ten families from Our Savior, San Antonio, Texas, make up the committed core group at a new mission in West San Antonio, which began worshiping together in March 2020 (pictured above). This home mission congregation held three in-person services at an elementary school with an average of 40 people in attendance before the pandemic hit.

“My heart goes out to our young mission churches because they lost some momentum in reaching out to people who had shown interest in learning more about their Savior,” says Rev. Wayne Uhlhorn, home mission counselor. “But our missionaries are resourceful and persistent and found ways to stay connected to them and reach out in creative ways with the gospel.”

In addition to the West San Antonio group, Hope, Houston, Texas, and Sure Foundation, Brandon, S.D., also launched services in 2020.

“Moved by the love of our Savior, Home Missions knows that the Lord hasn’t directed us to just share the gospel when life is humming along but to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in difficult times as well,” says Rev. Keith Free, administrator of WELS Board for Home Missions.

“Regardless of the circumstances in this world, God’s people know what their Lord has directed them to do—tell more people about the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. We ask the Lord to bless us to do just that.”
To learn more, visit wels.net/homemissions.


New Home Missions approved in 2020

The Board for Home Missions approved three new missions in 2020, including:

Amarillo, Texas  (pictured): Located 130 miles from the nearest WELS church, a group of 15 WELS members form the core group reaching out in Amarillo, Texas. The WELS pastor from Lubbock, Texas, makes the two-hour drive to Amarillo twice a month to serve the members with God’s Word and his sacraments.

North Liberty, Iowa: North Liberty, Iowa, is a multi-site ministry with Good Shepherd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A dedicated core group of 20 members began worshiping in July 2017 at the North Liberty Community Center. Home Missions funding will allow Good Shepherd to call a second pastor to help its outreach efforts.

West San Antonio, Texas: Ten families from Our Savior, San Antonio, Texas, make up the committed core group at this new mission, which began worshiping together in March 2020.


Strengthening faith and building relationships

WELS Campus Ministry celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020. The WELS Campus Ministry Committee currently provides about 30 campus ministries with financial support and assists hundreds of other congregations in their campus ministry outreach. Pictured is the first campus ministry get-together of the 2020–21 school year at Purdue University coordinated by Lamb of God, Lafayette, Ind.

 


On Oct. 24, 2020, members from Carbon Valley, Firestone, Colo., came out to clean up their community, living out this mission congregation’s motto, “Connecting Christ . . . Creating Community.”

 

 

 

 


Twenty-five people from Cross of Christ, Boise/North Nampa, Idaho, packed and delivered almost 90 sets of groceries donated by more than a dozen other people to neighbors in their community—along with a message of care and hope. As this multi-site congregation noted, “This is one simple way to serve our community and let them know that not only do we care about them, more importantly, Jesus cares about them.”

 


Encouraging spiritual transformations

Sure Foundation, the new mission in Brandon, S.D., partnered with a local gym in a program called “The 21-Day Transformation.” Rev. Craig Wilke (pictured), home missionary at Sure Foundation, explains: “The gym puts people through workouts with a personal trainer and gives them diet plans to follow for 21 days. It is a well-thought-out program with accomplished leaders. Sure Foundation was added to the program as the spiritual component for the event. It was an exciting opportunity to partner with a community member and to reach people with the Word. COVID-19 changed our plans, but it didn’t stop our ability to reach people. We recorded videos and put together devotional materials to help people grow in their spiritual lives. Participants learned how to read the Bible correctly and devotionally, and participants read through an entire book of the Bible while answering questions along the way. By God’s grace, Sure Foundation was able to get 32 new people involved in this program and many of our own members too. The 21-Day Transformation didn’t result in just physical transformations but spiritual ones as well.”


Did you know?

WELS Home Missions currently supports a total of 114 mission congregations across 35 states as well as Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean.

2020 Leadership Conference

WELS Congregational Services hosted the first ever WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership in Chicago, Jan. 21–23, 2020. Approximately 800 people—including both called workers and lay members, representing about 350 WELS congregations—met to hear five plenary speakers and attend a selection of breakout sessions.

“The focus of the conference was that we want to do all we can with the gospel to serve Christ’s mission,” says Rev. Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services. “ ‘Doing all we can with the gospel’ requires leaders to focus on two things. First, we look at tactics. Is the way we are carrying out gospel ministry smart?”

He continues, “But underneath tactics is congregational culture. The group—the collective—needs to have the right thoughts, habits, and attitudes. That was what the plenaries were all about.”

Attendees were treated to a preview of the new hymnal, set to be released by Advent 2021. Maintaining the name Christian Worship, the new hymnal comprises a suite of resources, including a stand-alone psalter, musical arrangements for various instrumentation, and a service folder builder. Conference worship services and devotions used liturgical and hymn arrangements from the new hymnal.

The conference planning committee is exploring options for a second WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership, likely sometime in 2022. Learn more and watch videos of select presentations at lutheranleadership.com.

Preparatory Schools

Pictured above:
Elijah Ha volunteered at St. Paul, Saginaw, Mich., as part of his Taste of Ministry experience at Michigan Lutheran Seminary.


Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., and Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., prepare high school students for future service as pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. For the 2020–21 school year, Luther Preparatory School has 401 students and Michigan Lutheran Seminary has 184 students.

Both schools offer “Taste of Ministry” opportunities for students, which include shadowing called workers to learn more about their work. Students also are given firsthand gospel ministry experiences on campus and during mission trips.
For more information, visit lps.wels.net or mlsem.org.


Luther Preparatory School senior Gabriel Bickelhaupt gave evening chapel in March 2020. Senior males are given this opportunity to work with a dean to prepare a message from God’s Word for the student body.

 

 

 

 


Kaitlin Butler volunteered  to serve Trinity, Castries, St. Lucia, in December 2019, as part of a Project Timothy trip as a student at Luther Preparatory School.

 

 

 

 


Michigan Lutheran Seminary students went Christmas caroling in December 2019. The school is currently made up of students from 13 states and 4 different countries.

 

 

 

 


Michigan Lutheran Seminary Fast Facts 2019

  • 70 MLS alumni at Martin Luther College
  • 20 MLS alumni at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Luther Preparatory School Fast Facts 2019

  • 215 LPS alumni at Martin Luther College
  • 43 LPS alumni at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

 

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Pictured above: Teaching during a pandemic
The seminary has adjusted its teaching during the pandemic as necessary. Here President Earle Treptow teaches a class outdoors in the seminary’s newly renovated courtyard in fall 2020. In spring 2020, the seminary held its graduation and call day online. Twenty-five graduates received diplomas for successfully completing their seminary studies and received calls into the ministry.


In fall 2020, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis., began the school year with 134 students. WLS prepares men to begin pastoral ministry by providing them with spiritual, theological, and professional training. Students attend classes for two years, serve as full-time vicars during their third year, and then attend classes and write a thesis in their fourth year. Throughout their time at the seminary, students receive opportunities to serve in a variety of ministries and to experience other cultures to help prepare them for their future calls.

The seminary also provides pastors with opportunities for continued growth in all their callings through its institute, Grow in Grace. Grow in Grace offers continuing education courses, a mentoring initiative for new graduates, a clearinghouse of resources for pastors, and an annual retreat for pastors who are celebrating milestones in their ministries.

The Pastoral Studies Institute, a partnership between WLS and WELS Missions, guides and assists non-traditional students through their pre-seminary and seminary training so they can become pastors. This includes second-career students as well as cross-cultural students.
For more information, visit wisluthsem.org.

 


Winterim

Many seminary students participate in Winterim, a two-week session in between the first and second semesters that gives students an opportunity to study in areas of personal interest not normally part of the curriculum. Pictured is John Jordan, who worked on an outreach project at Living Faith, Midlothian, Texas, in January 2020. Jordan and 16 fellow students participated in street evangelism, interviewing, and data gathering, as well as worked on a strategic planning process that showed different ways to begin or enhance a congregation’s outreach. Part of the students’ work was to assemble and distribute almost 3,000 reusable totes for a local food drive and then collect the donations several days later.

Winterim provides a nice change of pace for both students and faculty,” says Rev. Earle Treptow, president of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. “Students who go on a mission trip—and almost every student will during their time at the seminary—gain invaluable experience in engaging the community. Those who participate come back with an increased commitment to preparing themselves for service as pastors.”


Dialogue Education Conference

Eighteen participants spreading God’s Word on five continents attended a Dialogue Education Conference hosted by the Pastoral Studies Institute. In partnership with WELS Missions, the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary guides and assists spiritual leaders around the globe through their pre-seminary and seminary training.

 


Mission and Ministry 2020

Each winter Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary hosts an event titled Mission and Ministry for its students. During Mission and Ministry, students learn about the various ministries that exist throughout WELS for them to participate in and take advantage of as they need them. Ministries bring displays and information for students, and speakers from Home and World Missions as well as Congregational Services lead sessions on topics pertinent to them in their future ministries.


Did you know?

The seminary’s library has more than 58,000 books, and almost all of them are theological.

Martin Luther College

MLC President Rev. Richard Gurgel

Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2020–21 school year. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed some of the practical ways that MLC’s students learn, the college is still committed to training a corps of Christian witnesses who are qualified to meet the ministry needs of WELS and who are competent to proclaim the Word of God faithfully and in accord with the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord. In fall 2020, 714 undergraduates were participating in this training, which took place both on campus and virtually.

To meet the current ministry needs of WELS, Martin Luther College:

  • prepares men for pastoral training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary;
  • prepares men and women for service as teachers and staff ministers in the synod’s churches, schools, and other institutions;
  • prepares men and women for other church ministries, both full- and part-time, responding to the needs of WELS;
  • prepares international students for ministry in partnership with WELS mission fields; and
  • provides programs of continuing education that meet the ministerial needs of WELS.

For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu.


Equipping Christian Witnesses

Student Joey Behm shares details about the college’s comprehensive campaign known as “Equipping Christian Witnesses” with members of Sola Fide, Lawrenceville, Ga., during the 2020 spring choir tour. The three pillars of the campaign are shown below. For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu/mlc-campaign.

 

 

 

 


Jordan Massiah

Chapel livestream

Junior and senior men who were scheduled to preach for evening chapel in MLC’s Chapel of the Christ in spring 2020 preached from home after the school had to close its in-person instruction. These students sent their chapel videos to MLC for livestreaming and sharing on social media—potentially reaching more people than they would have in the campus chapel. Jordan Massiah (pictured), a member of Hope, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was one such student. Massiah notes, “The comfort I had in knowing that God’s Word works, no matter the circumstances, took away the nerves. It turned into a beautiful passion, which was to make my devotion simple enough to relate to people, but also advanced enough so that people wouldn’t lose interest. That’s something I’ll take with me into my future ministry.”

 


Lynn Jungen

Continuing Education

During the 2020–21 school year, 919 students are enrolled in Martin Luther College’s continuing education program. One hundred forty-six of those are pursuing graduate degrees in theological studies, educational administration, or education. Pictured is Lynn Jungen, who graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree from Doctor Martin Luther College and in 2020 with a master’s degree from Martin Luther College. Jungen serves as an early childhood director in Manitowoc, Wis.

 


Did you know?

The Conference of Presidents issued 150 assignments on call day in May 2020. It was the first time the call service was held virtually. MLC’s spring graduation service was also streamed online rather than being held in person. The college sent graduates celebratory packages with their graduation essentials, including their diplomas and gowns.

 

Academia Cristo

A new Spanish-language website, Academia Cristo (Christ Academy), was launched in 2015. The goal of Academia Cristo is to use videos and audio Bible studies to reach out to non-Christians as well as to train Latin American church members how to share their faith.

In its first three months, videos on academiacristo.com were viewed more than 80,000 times and downloaded more than 30,000 times. Because of social media’s popularity in Latin America, the mission team created a Facebook page to promote Academia Cristo, and more than 10,000 people per day are interacting with the Facebook page. On average, 35 people are receiving live online training from missionaries and national pastors every week.

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

On May 24, 2019, 26 men graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis. WLS prepares men to begin pastoral ministry by providing them with spiritual, theological, and professional training. Students attend classes for two years, serve as full-time vicars during their third year, and then attend classes and write a thesis in their fourth year. Throughout their time at the seminary, students receive opportunities to serve in a variety of ministries and to experience other cultures to help prepare them for their future calls.

The seminary also provides pastors with opportunities for continued growth in all their callings through its institute, Grow in Grace. Grow in Grace offers continuing education courses, a mentoring initiative for new graduates, a clearinghouse of resources for pastors, and an annual retreat for pastors who are celebrating milestones in their ministries.

The Pastoral Studies Institute, a partnership between WLS and WELS Joint Missions, guides and assists non-traditional students through their pre-seminary and seminary training so they can become pastors. This includes second-career students as well as cross-cultural students.

For more information, visit wls.wels.net.


New seminary president

Prof. Earle Treptow (pictured) was installed as the new president of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary on Aug. 26, 2019. “President Treptow brings a wealth of solid Lutheran parish experience to the work,” says Rev. Paul Prange, administrator of WELS Board for Ministerial Education. “His ability to see both small details and the big picture is remarkable, and his keen insight allows him to preach and teach the gospel in ways that should positively influence both students and colleagues.”

Prof. Paul Wendland, the seminary’s former president, transitioned back into a full-time teaching role on the seminary’s faculty. “Teaching is my first love,” says Wendland, “It’s what energizes me.”

When asked about his responsibilities as seminary president, Treptow notes, “I think of the president as having the responsibility of keeping the main thing the main thing. The seminary’s main thing is having pastors train men to be pastors. Clearly there are academic requirements in the program—men who will serve as pastors need to know the Scriptures and how to apply the Word to people in preaching, teaching, and counseling. But there is more to being a pastor than mastering a set of facts and skills; it’s about knowing himself as a beggar in desperate need of God’s grace, who revels in the Lord’s goodness and wants to bring others to the one who takes away all shame and fear and guilt.”


Second-generation Hmong student

Samuel Lor is in his first year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. His father, Rev. Bounkeo Lor, graduated from the seminary’s Pastoral Studies Institute and currently serves as coordinator of Hmong Asia Ministry. Bounkeo believes that Sam will be able to reach the second generation of Hmong Americans, many of whom are not attending worship. Sam says, “I want to share my appreciation for faith alone, Scripture alone, and grace alone. As a people, we are rebuilding our traditions. A Christian identity and our WELS heritage will help that rebuilding.”


Spanish Immersion Trip

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary offers educational opportunities outside the classroom during its Winterim semester. In January 2019 this group visited Colombia for the annual SPICE trip—Spanish Immersion Cultural Experience. The trip has a dual purpose—improve Spanish language skills and provide students real-life experience with another culture.


Archaeology tour

Prof. Thomas Kock of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary organized an archaeology tour of Israel that took place June 1-12, 2019. Twenty people—including four seminary students—participated in the tour, which included an archaeological dig a few miles north of Jericho. “Ultimately, there’s just nothing like being there to help a person to ‘get’ certain things,” says Kock. “Students gain a far better understanding of the geography and culture of the land of Israel, which can help them to gain a more clear, full understanding of some of the events recorded in the Bible. Additionally, they get the opportunity to discover in a real way both the blessings that archaeology can bring to the Bible student and its limitations.”


Did you know?

On March 18, 2019, Evan Arrowsmith became the first-ever inductee into the WLS-MLC chapter of Eta Beta Rho, an honor society that recognizes excellence in Hebrew and is operated by the National Association of Professors of Hebrew. Prof. Kenneth Cherney presented Arrowsmith, a junior, with the award in chapel.

Martin Luther College

Martin Luther College’s mission is to train a corps of Christian witnesses who are qualified to meet the ministry needs of WELS and who are competent to proclaim the Word of God faithfully and in accord with the Lutheran Confessions and the Book of Concord. In fall 2019, 731 undergraduates were participating in this training.

To meet the current ministry needs of WELS, Martin Luther College:

prepares men for pastoral training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary;

prepares men and women for service as teachers and staff
ministers in the synod’s churches, schools, and other institutions;

prepares men and women for other church ministries, both full-and part-time, responding to the needs of WELS;

prepares international students for ministry in partnership with WELS mission fields; and

provides programs of continuing education that meet the
ministerial needs of WELS.

For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu.


“Equipping Christian Witnesses”

With support from the WELS Conference of Presidents, Martin Luther College launched a two-year capital campaign to celebrate the 2020 silver anniversary of the college. The campaign’s title, “Equipping Christian Witnesses,” reflects not only the mission of MLC—to train a corps of Christian witnesses to meet WELS ministry needs—but also the three pillars of the campaign (pictured left). For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu/mlc-campaign.


Daylight mission trip

This team from Martin Luther College traveled to St. Paul, Beverly Hills, Fla., through the college’s Daylight mission trip program. The team helped the congregation move classrooms, paint hallways, and run a soccer camp for children ages 4 to 14. Nathan Lemke (pictured far left) notes, “Part of the camp was a time for devotion where we got to tell 90 children each day about Jesus and how he is our goalie from the devil. Over half of the campers were not part of the congregation, and many of them did not know about the gift that we have through Christ! It is a great blessing to go throughout the U.S. and help churches through the Daylight program.”


Serving those with special needs

In December 2019, Martin Luther College students hosted a Christmas event for Jesus Cares, a ministry that reaches out to individuals with special needs.

Student Elizabeth Schoeneck (pictured) admits that working with individuals with special needs can be intimidating at first. But after volunteering for the first time, she’s never turned back. “Jesus Cares provides a safe place to learn, practice, and grow skills for working with the special needs community,” Elizabeth says.

“Nothing beats the joy found in the students’ faces as they listen to the story of Christ,” adds fellow student Chris Robbert (pictured, right).

Martin Luther College now offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs for those who want to focus their education on teaching those with special needs.

A portion reprinted from MLC’s KnightWatch Weekly


Did you know?

One hundred seventy-six people graduated from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., on May 18. One hundred one were in the teacher track, and two were in the staff ministry track. Forty-five completed the preseminary program, and two received seminary certification. Twenty-six received master’s degrees.

Preparatory Schools

Featured photo: A group of five students from Michigan Lutheran Seminary traveled to Camp Shiloh in Pittsburg, Texas, to serve as camp leaders. Forty students participated in Project Titus mission projects in 2019. Pictured: Elizabeth Waldo, who is now attending Martin Luther College.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., and Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., prepare high school students for future service as pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. For the 2019–20 school year, Michigan Lutheran Seminary has 196 students and Luther Preparatory School has 402 students.

Both schools offer “Taste of Ministry” opportunities for students, which include shadowing called workers to learn more about their work. Students also are given firsthand gospel ministry experiences on campus and during mission trips.

For more information, visit mlsem.org or lps.wels.net.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary Fast Facts 2019

  • 70 MLS alumni at Martin Luther College
  • 20 MLS alumni at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Luther Preparatory School Fast Facts 2019

  • 215 LPS alumni at Martin Luther College
  • 43 LPS alumni at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

 

Students from Luther Preparatory School volunteered for a Bible camp at Trinity, St. Lucia, West Indies, as part of the school’s Project Timothy program. Fifty-six students participated in a Project Timothy mission trip in 2019. Pictured: Annika Schroeder, who is now attending Martin Luther College.

Hope, Texas

WELS Home Missions authorized funding for one new mission in 2019—Hope, Houston, Texas. A dedicated group of core members from other WELS churches around Houston are starting this mission in an urban neighborhood that is seeing a resurgence in popularity as people are looking to be closer to the city center. Rev. Andrew Nemmers, a 2019 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, was assigned to serve as Hope’s home missionary. Pictured are some members of Hope’s core group as well as a group from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who helped the new mission in January 2019.


Did you know?

WELS Home Missions supports 18 cross-cultural missions. Either the mission is serving a certain people group such as Hispanics, Vietnamese, or Hmong, or there is a multi-ethnic membership. Ten of those 18 are Hispanic ministries, reaching out with the gospel to the largest ministry people group in the United States.

Shepherd of the Valley, Candelas, Colo.

Shepherd of the Valley, Candelas, Colo., held its official launch service on Oct. 6, 2019. Rev. Jeremy Belter, home missionary for Shepherd of the Valley, reports: “Every seat was filled. We counted 140 people in attendance and nearly 70 first-time guests! I was also privileged to baptize three little children that day from the same family. That family is currently taking class for membership. We have contact info from 10 families for follow up and lots of positive conversations. Several people commented, ‘We’re looking for a church with a more traditional structure and solid sermon from the Bible. We want a church that is true to the Bible.’ . . . To say that God is good is an understatement. He did more than we asked or imagined as he always does. The launch team is excited to continue working as missionaries, inviting and welcoming people to hear the message of Christ crucified!”

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Qiang Wang (pictured standing reading) is a recent graduate of the Pastoral Studies Institute. “My happiest thing,” says Wang, “is to share the gospel with others.” The Conference of Presidents has called him to be a missionary to the Chinese population of Coquitlam, a growing suburb of Vancouver. City planners believe 30,000 more Chinese people will move to Coquitlam in the next decade, and the city is already underserved for Chinese churches. Wang’s outreach in Coquitlam is a mission partnership between WELS Joint Missions; WELS Canada; and Saviour of the Nations, Vancouver.

Mission Journeys

WELS Mission Journeys offers WELS members the opportunity to engage in Christian service to WELS mission fields at home and abroad through church- or school-based volunteer trips. Pre-trip training led by a congregational team leader equips volunteers to have significant impact during their trip. While volunteering, the learning and sharing of outreach ideas allows teams to explore how they can use their God-given abilities to lead an outreach event upon their return home. Pictured is a teen group from St. Martin, Watertown, S.D., that volunteered to canvass and help lead a summer Bible camp for Living Hope, Chattanooga, Tenn. Interested in going on a WELS mission journey?
Visit wels.net/missionjourneys to learn more.

Christ, Denver, Colo.

His body language spoke loud and clear. Arms crossed. Slouched down. A toothpick pursed between his lips as he stared at the floor. Avoiding any sort of conversation. Refusing a bulletin. He didn’t want to be there, but his girlfriend had convinced him to join her in church that morning.

Then he came back the next week, this time looking up a couple of times during the sermon. The next week, he followed along in the bulletin. The week after that, he left the toothpick in the car. A few months later, he asked about classes where he could learn more about the Bible and ask some questions that have been on his mind.

Fast forward to mid-November 2019. His brother is on life support, making it hard to finish up his classes for church membership. He asks his other two brothers if it would be okay for him to invite the pastor to stop in at the hospital for a visit and prayer. It takes a week of convincing, but they finally give in. Their body language was speaking loud and clear. They didn’t really see the need or want this Spanish-speaking white guy in their brother’s hospital room. It seemed like they were paying more attention to their phones than to this stranger in the room. The conversation was short, and God’s Word was shared.

On the way home, I got a message: “Thanks. They’d like you to come again soon.”

“For the word of God is alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12).

Written by Rev. Paul Biedenbender, home missionary at Christ, Denver

Campus Ministry

The WELS campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point had a great turnout for its first Bible study of the 2019–20 school year. WELS Campus Ministry, a ministry of WELS Home Missions, provides resources, support, and encouragement to WELS congregations that serve college students in the United States and Canada. These congregations are vital in connecting college students with fellow Christians, strengthening their faith with the gospel message, and encouraging them to share that faith with other college students. To learn more, visit wels.net/campus-ministry.

Training disciples around the world

Academia Cristo provides online and in-person training in doctrine, sharing Bible stories, leading worship, and discipling others. Activating people to share the Word with others is an emphasis from early on. For example, a Colombian man disciples men in other parts of Colombia and Venezuela. They, in turn, lead churches and train others to lead groups in other places. Some are churches with buildings, others are groups meeting in houses. WELS’ Latin America missions team mentors those identified, trains them to be faithful to Scripture, and trusts the leaders to then disciple others. In 2019, two missionaries on the Latin America missions team began working in Paraguay with students who are excited to share the gospel with their countrymen (pictured is one such student and his family).

The world’s best preacher

WELS’ friendly counselor to South Asia shares this story: “As Hakim preaches a sermon to people sitting on the ground outside a house church, a cow stares at him intently. His friends tease this humble, faithful servant who is deeply loved and say, ‘You are the world’s best preacher. Even the cows listen to you.’ He is like a father-figure to many in the church. Hakim is also a filmmaker and has made many video vignettes of Bible stories such as the lost son in Luke 15. He is also a student in the first Pakistan Bible institute. He visits three to five house churches every week to teach what he learns in the Bible institute.”

New missionaries commissioned

On July 13, 2019, three new world missionaries were commissioned at the first Taste of Missions event sponsored by WELS Missions. Pictured from left are Rev. Daniel Witte, missionary to Africa; Rev. Abram Degner, missionary to Paraguay; and Rev. Bounkeo Lor, who serves as coordinator of Hmong Asia Ministry and is training the leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam. More than 400 WELS members gathered at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., for Taste of Missions, which gave WELS members an opportunity to hear firsthand from WELS home and world missionaries, sample food from around the world, visit mission displays, and participate in a worship service during which these new world missionaries were commissioned. WELS Missions is planning the next Taste of Missions for July 11, 2020, at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Visit wels.net/tasteofmissions2020 for details.

Vietnam

In 2018, God’s grace opened the door to an unprecedented mission opportunity for our synod. The communist Vietnamese government invited WELS to build a theological education facility in the capital city of Hanoi to train leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church. In December 2018, WELS World Missions embarked on a synodwide campaign with the goal of receiving $2 million to pay for the land, building construction, and first two years of operating expenses. WELS members quickly responded with their prayers and financial gifts. In December 2019, that goal was met. Our Lord blessed this opportunity and moved his people to contribute or commit offerings totaling more than $2 million, which will allow WELS to provide seminary-level education for 350 pastors and catechism training for an additional 2,500 leaders. Countless others may be blessed by this training in the future.

“This is just the beginning,” notes Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of the Board for World Missions. “There are more than 120,000 members of the Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam and 2 million Hmong people throughout Southeast Asia. Imagine what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through the 2,800-plus pastors and leaders who will be equipped to share the truth of God’s grace with their Hmong brothers and sisters.”

Continue to follow along on this journey at wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.


Discovering True Peace

“I want to say thank you to WELS because you have given me peace,” says Pastor Chaplai, a Hmong pastor in Vietnam. “I did not have peace until I learned the gospel in these classes. All of us here are learning so many things. We take the things we learn here and teach them to our people. The printed materials, translated into our language, are very useful to us. All of us are baptized now, including our babies. We have peace and joy from the true teaching of God’s Word.”

Discipleship

Responding to God’s grace

In 2019, WELS Commission on Discipleship unveiled a new congregational stewardship program called 10 for 10. After three weeks of preaching and teaching on the topic of giving, congregation members are asked to contemplate if they are able to give one-tenth of their income to the Lord for ten straight weeks—hence the name 10 for 10. This is based on the Old Testament practice of tithing.

Rev. Donn Dobberstein, director of WELS Discipleship, explains that the goal of 10 for 10 is much greater than amassing gifts. “10 for 10 is not a church fundraising program,” he says. “It is a gospel-centered stewardship emphasis that asks people to consider how to respond to all of the many graces that God has shown to them.”

10 for 10 opens the conversation on the often difficult topic of money in a Christ-like manner.

“Jesus talked often about money because he knew the vicelike grip it can have on our hearts as it seeks to replace him as our greatest treasure,” Dobberstein says. “When it came to money, Jesus was blunt. He was bold. 10 for 10 strives to mirror Jesus’ biblical boldness.”

WELS congregations began to implement this stewardship program in the fall of 2019. Worship materials, midweek devotions, Sunday sermons, PowerPoint slides, videos, letters, and more can be downloaded for free at welscongregationalservices.net/10-for-10


Women’s Ministry

More than 300 WELS women from 17 different states gathered at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., for the Women’s Ministry Conference from July 18-20, 2019. The event’s theme—“Living Stones: Positioned to Thrive”—explored God’s design and purpose for Christian women. A dozen breakout sessions and four keynote presentations discussed additional topics such as teamwork, evangelism, family, and more. Pictured: Marilyn Miller.

Evangelism

WELS Commission on Evangelism built off of the success of the 2018 synodwide outreach campaign and designed a new campaign for 2019. Known as C19, the initiative included resources to encourage and equip congregations to invite the unchurched to worship for Christmas 2019. One highlight of the campaign was the social media video that WELS congregations and members could share to highlight worship service dates and times. New in 2019 were resources to offer a Christmas service for those with special needs.

Worship

The New Christian Worship

The new WELS hymnal is scheduled to be released by Advent 2021. Between 15 to 17 books and 3 digital products will accompany the hymnal, according to Rev. Michael Schultz, director of the WELS Hymnal Project.

To begin introducing this hymnal to WELS members, the WELS Hymnal Project is releasing a preview booklet at the January 2020 WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership. Each congregation also will receive multiple copies of the booklet. A formal Hymnal Introduction Program will start at the same time, offering introductions to the products that are coming out, ideas for introducing the hymnal to members, as well as tips for funding. New hymnal materials also will be highlighted and featured at the WELS national worship conference in 2021.

“Check out christianworship.com to get an excellent taste of our forthcoming hymnal and its supportive resources,” encourages Rev. Bryan Gerlach, the director of WELS Commission on Worship. “It’s been a great joy to work with many talented and committed volunteers who are preparing the complete ‘hymnal suite.’ As our 1993 hymnal and 2008 hymnal supplement brought us many new hymns that became dearly loved, we can expect the same from our new hymnal. But, of course, the best of the old favorites will also be included. I’m especially excited about Christian Worship: Service Builder—a powerful software tool that will save pastors and church offices a ton of time and produce professional quality in design of worship folders.”

For more information, visit christianworship.com.

Lutheran Schools

School Leaders

The 21st-Century Lutheran Principal Initiative helps to address the growing need for school leaders and involves cohorts of experienced teachers going through three years of training with the Commission on Lutheran Schools and Martin Luther College. The first cohort is scheduled to complete its training in 2020. The second and third cohorts have begun their training, and a fourth cohort is being recruited.

The Early Childhood Emerging Leader cohort is a similar program designed for current early childhood teachers willing to train to serve as early childhood directors. This year-long cohort includes professional development, a project in their current ministry applying leadership skills, support from an experienced early childhood director as their mentor, and monthly teleconferences covering practical topics related to the role of early childhood director. Six individuals completed the 2018–19 cohort in June.

Pictured above: Members of the first cohort of the 21st-Century Lutheran Principal Initiative meet for training with their mentors and instructors at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry.


Early Childhood Education

On Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, Katie Kubat and her four children were baptized by Rev. John Melke (left) at Good Shepherd, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Katie has enrolled three children in Good Shepherd’s 3K ministry. Katie is currently attending Bible information class with Melke. Also pictured is Rev. Paul Tullberg.


WELS EdTechLead Summit

The WELS Education, Technology, and Leadership Summit (EdTechLead) brought more than 400 teachers, pastors, and other synod leaders together at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., from June 25-27, 2019, to explore ministry tools, techniques, and best practices. The conference was a joint effort of the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools and WELS Technology.

Special Ministries

Prison Ministry

Wanda Markland (pictured, far left), warden of the South Dakota Women’s Prison, introduced WELS Prison Ministry materials to the inmates. Some are available to read in the library, and many can be taken for free—if the women get there fast enough. Amanda, an inmate working in the library, says that sometimes they have to fill the free rack two times or more a day with booklets from WELS Prison Ministry.

When asked what the books mean to her, inmate Katherine responded: “Everything.” The books have enabled her to understand the Bible. Others replied that the books help them to know that they are loved, they are not alone, and they are growing in their spiritual life. One inmate was even led to request baptism.

These women, who rejoice in the good news that they are forgiven, took up a collection from their meager funds and sent a donation to WELS Prison Ministry so that more people could benefit from hearing God’s good news through these materials.

Did you know?

WELS Prison Ministry administers an extensive ministry-by-mail program and provides training opportunities for laypeople and pastors who would like to begin a local jail or prison ministry. Hundreds of volunteers manage this ministry-by-mail program that has reached more than 70,000 inmates.


Military Services

WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastors serving military families met in May 2019 for the Military Contact Pastors Retreat at Risen Savior, Chula Vista, Calif., near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Under the theme “Serving those who serve our country,” the presentations provided insights into the unique challenges of the military lifestyle during and after deployment and how to reach military members and their families with the gospel. WELS Military Services, a part of WELS Special Ministries, supports servicemen and women with devotions and other spiritual care. Refer a military member at wels.net/refer.

Christian Aid and Relief

WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved $466,212 for humanitarian aid work in fiscal year 2019–20.

Rev. Robert Hein, chairman of Christian Aid and Relief, says, “Humanitarian aid projects help our missions put Christ’s love into action by meeting community needs. As missionaries develop relationships with the people they serve, they also find opportunities to tell people about Jesus. In some world mission fields, hostile to Christianity, humanitarian aid is essential to keep the doors open to share the gospel.”

All projects originate in the mission fields as the missionaries discover opportunities to help. Then the projects are brought to the Christian Aid and Relief administrative committee as well as to the WELS Missions administrators for approval. Pictured is a project at Hope, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that welcomes new immigrants to the area.

To view a complete list of humanitarian aid projects as well as relief projects, visit wels.net/relief.