Churches joining hearts and hands

Dear Friend,

Two church bodies recently joined hearts and hands with us to uphold and proclaim the saving truth of Scripture. At the 2023 synod convention, WELS affirmed fellowship with Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional and declared fellowship with Obadiah Lutheran Synod.

These two sister synods are on different continents. Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional, created in October 2021, is a gathering of believers across Latin America—from Bolivia and Colombia to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Obadiah Lutheran Synod is a gathering of believers in the African country of Uganda. They speak different languages, have different cultures, and organize congregations differently. Yet these two church bodies have much in common. Both are eager and active in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

Working together with WELS Academia Cristo, Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional set a goal of having 1,000 grupos sembradores (groups gathered around the gospel) throughout Latin America by 2028. They are working with Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Pastoral Studies Institute to establish seminary education throughout Latin America. Latin Americans are gathering groups in homes and rented spaces in the towns and cities where they live to teach the gospel to neighbors and friends.

Obadiah Lutheran Synod is all about gathering a community to learn the gospel. These Ugandan believers organize knitting clubs as outreach and then invite friends—including their Muslim neighbors—to attend. They have a big heart for welcoming into their lives Sudanese refugees from the north. Their goal is to establish one main church that also serves as a teaching center in each district of their land.

Both church bodies take ownership of their work. They are well organized and well led. Pastor Herrera, president of Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional, is a long-time acquaintance of WELS workers in Latin America. Pastor Musa, president of Obadiah Lutheran Synod, was instrumental in talks with WELS workers in Africa over the past couple of years. Both synods are making, and are committed to, plans to fund their work.

Your WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations (CICR) invites you to share in the joy of our new fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for them. Give thanks to God for them. And consider offering a gift that expresses our joy in working together with them for the truth.

Your gift to the WELS CICR Fund helps these and other sister synods with their ministry. It will help Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional with travel costs for synod leaders to visit the developing grupos sembradores spread across Latin America. It will help them to fund a full-time worker who will travel extensively to build and maintain bonds of fellowship between the new synod and its new membership groups. Your gift will also assist Obadiah Lutheran Synod with purchasing a vehicle, constructing teaching centers, and carrying out compassion ministry to refugees within Uganda.

Praise and thanks to God, who continues to join hearts and hands together in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Serving Christ,
Rev. James Danell
Chairman, Commission on Inter-Church Relations

Prayer: Lord, how good and pleasant it is when your people live together in unity! We rejoice in our synod’s declaring fellowship with the Obadiah Lutheran Synod of Uganda and affirming fellowship with Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional in Latin America. May our joint ministry be strengthened as a result. Bless the Obadiah Lutheran Synod especially as they serve Sudanese refugees in their country. Be with Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional as they strive to gather 1,000 groups across Latin America around the Bible in the next five years. May your Word and your Spirit guide your Church! Amen.

Military ministry: too important to be done part-time

Dear Friend,

Did you know the United States operates about 450 military bases across all 50 states? Worldwide, we have approximately 750 military bases in some 80 countries. When a WELS member enlists in the military, he or she can potentially end up in any of these locations.

WELS military members have unique needs. Their families feel the stress of a loved one being away on a long deployment. There is the emotional and psychological strain of serving our country in difficult ways and dangerous situations. We thank God for providing individuals willing to defend our country and freedoms. One way we can respond is by making sure that WELS members in the military are spiritually served by pastors who understand the unique challenges of military life.

To support WELS members in our armed forces, WELS has operated the Military Chaplaincy Program. We have a full-time European chaplain based in Germany. He travels to military bases throughout Europe and, when necessary, other locations around the world. WELS also has a part-time national chaplain based in Minnesota who serves as our official representative to the U.S. Armed Forces. Ministry needs are so great that we need to expand that position to full-time.

The national chaplain will now be located near one of our largest military bases in San Diego, Calif. However, he does much more than serve the military families at that base. He travels around the country, offering training and support to over 100 military contact pastors—parish pastors who serve a congregation near one of the stateside military bases. The national chaplain helps these pastors better understand how they and their congregations can support our WELS military personnel and their families with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The national chaplain also plans how to serve WELS members stationed away from a WELS church (something that is increasingly common as congregations consolidate or close). He supplies troops with Lutheran materials tailored to their specific needs. He provides remote pastoral counseling to WELS soldiers, seamen, and airmen when requested, and refers troops to Christian Family Solutions when professional counseling is needed. Along with the European chaplain, he is responsible for visiting deployed forces when possible, including those in war zones.

The national chaplain is also responsible for the plan to escalate pastoral service in the event of a large-scale conflict or major mobilization of forces. He maintains regular contact with the Pentagon to determine how WELS troops might be best served spiritually. It is a position too important to be done part-time.

Having the national chaplain become a full-time position substantially increases the cost of the WELS Military Chaplaincy Program. Would you make a gift today to allow us to scale this program immediately to meet the needs of our WELS members serving in our armed forces?

My friends who serve in the military talk about the stress they face and how the strength Jesus provides through his gospel in Word and sacraments is vital to them. Thank you for considering supporting our WELS military personnel through the expanded Military Chaplaincy Program.

In Christ,
Rev. Joel Gaertner
Director, WELS Commission on Special Ministries

Prayer: Lord, thank you for our fellow members who serve in the military. Bless them well through the chaplains and contact pastors spread across the world and our country. May these pastors and the means of grace that they share uplift these believers, especially through challenging times. If it is your will, help us to expand the national chaplain position to full-time to provide additional ministry to WELS military member families in the U.S. Amen.

An extraordinarily valuable program

Dear Friend,

It never gets old.

The seniors at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS) are ready to receive their calls into pastoral ministry. They know each other well. Some of them have gone to school together for twelve years. But they don’t know what will happen next. In moments they will find out where the Lord of the Church will have them begin their service.

On the walls of their WLS classrooms they have been surrounded by the pictures of the men who graduated before them. Now their own pictures will join the crowd of witnesses. They look at the framed picture of their own class closely. Wait, what’s this? Here are pictures of two men they have never met.

Who are these people?

In May 2023, the two men who joined the WLS class of 2023 on call day and graduation were Vietnamese immigrants who had spent many years studying to be pastors through WLS’ Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI). The PSI guides and assists spiritual leaders around the world through pre-seminary and seminary training. The Pastoral Studies Institute has been an extraordinarily valuable program for preparing people from various people groups to share the good news of salvation in Christ with others in their cultural communities both in the U.S. and in their native countries.

Huu Trung Le and Tao Nguyen, both members of Peace in Jesus Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho, had finished their course of study and presented themselves as candidates for pastoral ministry. Their main instructor had been WELS Pastor Daniel Kramer at Peace in Jesus, but many other men had also taught them, including the PSI team members. While Trung and Tao were the only PSI graduates in 2023, there are dozens of other men in the program from a number of other people groups.

But how can we afford it? The answer is our WELS Missions Endowment Fund.

The reliable annual distributions from that endowment are the source of funding for the instruction that goes on in the PSI all across the country. Whenever we receive an inquiry from another man who is already a spiritual leader and wants training to become a WELS pastor, we can answer positively because we know that the funding will be there through the annual endowment distribution. And these inquiries continue to come!

So how can you help?

Keep your eyes open locally for candidates from immigrant people groups who might be interested in further training for ministry. Have your pastor contact PSI Director Harland Goetzinger with any leads. Prayerfully consider contributing to the WELS Missions Endowment Fund as a lasting source for that training. And ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.

We are so very thankful for the generosity of God’s people.

In Christ’s service,
Rev. Paul Prange
Administrator for Ministerial Education

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we praise you that immigrants from around the world are learning the gospel through us and then training through the Pastoral Studies Institute to minister to their own people groups in the U.S. and their countries of origin. Help us continue identifying candidates for the PSI program and to fund their training through gifts to the WELS Missions Endowment Fund. We thank you that we get to be part of your beautiful work to fill heaven with people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Amen.

This is just the beginning!

Dear Friend of Missions,

It is truly amazing to see how God is already blessing the 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative! At Taste of Missions held on June 10th at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., Rev. Caleb King (pictured) was commissioned to serve as a missionary for the recently approved new church plant in Collin County, Tex. It was an inspirational day, and a joy to see so many WELS members gathered supporting WELS mission work. Rev. King is just one of several men who were recently called to serve in Home Missions, and we are grateful for God’s provision as we watch these plans unfold.

You should have received or will soon be receiving a mail piece highlighting 100 Mission in 10 Years. Please take time to read and learn all you can about this initiative and prayerfully consider a gift of support. We continue to make plans and lay the groundwork for reaching out to the lost in more communities in the United States. God willing, there will be many more places just like Collin County, Tex., in the years to come.

We know that no community is the same. No core group is the same. No soul is the same. But we know that all people have the same need for a Savior from sin. As we continue to move forward in faith with this initiative, we see over and over again how the Lord of the Church is providing for his people and doing immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.

In Christ’s service,
Sean Young
Sr. Director of Missions Operations

100 missions, 75 enhancements, 10 years

Dear Friend,

Who would have thought?

Just a few short years ago, WELS Home Missions was tossing around the idea to increase awareness of Home Missions among WELS members. That conversation blossomed into what we now know as 100 Missions in 10 Years, an initiative to plant 100 new home mission churches and enhance 75 existing ministries from 2023-2033.

As the senior director of missions operations for WELS, I’m blessed to be involved in many of these ministry conversations. What’s different about this effort is the way in which it was so quickly embraced by our church body at our 2021 synod convention. Despite the known challenges, we move forward in faith. WELS members have already participated in a big way. We are grateful that people like you have prayed and made gifts.

Fast forward to March 2023, and the first of the new 100 home missions were approved. From Boston, Mass., to Idaho Falls, Idaho, nine new mission starts were approved for funding along with six ministry enhancements (you can view these home mission starts and enhancements at That’s a significant first step in our continuing effort to establish more outposts for the gospel here in the United States. Those new starts, along with the 140-plus existing home mission churches, will be places where members can invite family and friends to hear the good news about Jesus! Praise God for his power and blessings!

That’s a whole heap of new opportunities for people to share their faith, just like Pastor Carl Leyrer did with me back in 1981. I was looking for a church and was struggling with my relationship with God. Pastor Leyrer invited me to come in and talk with him, which eventually turned into an invitation to join him for worship, which turned into attending Bible Information Class, and finally led to me being confirmed as an adult on March 27, 1983.

That’s the reason we have WELS congregations scattered around the U.S., and that’s why we need to keep looking for new locations to plant churches—to share God’s message of salvation with the lost, just like it was shared with me so many years ago. Please prayerfully consider giving a gift to support this ongoing effort. This is just the beginning; I can’t wait to see what God will do next—especially knowing that he is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

In Christ’s service,
Mr. Sean Young
Sr. Director of Missions Operations

Prayer: Jesus, our Loving Shepherd, we ask that through our synod’s 100 Missions in 10 Years campaign many more home mission churches may be started across North America to bring more souls to heaven through your saving message. May your kingdom come, dear Savior! Amen.

Celebrating God’s blessings

Dear Friend of Missions,

Who would have thought? Just a few years ago, WELS Home Missions was tossing around the idea to increase awareness of Home Missions among WELS members. Despite challenges, we move forward in faith, and that conversation has already blossomed into so much more! The new initiative to plant 100 new home mission churches and enhance 75 existing ministries has been launched, and God is blessing it! Please watch your mailbox this month for details. Here are a few highlights:

  • We learn about the nine new mission starts and six new ministry enhancements that were approved this spring by WELS Home Missions. These, along with the 140-plus existing home mission churches, will be places where members can invite family and friends to hear the good news about Jesus!
  • We meet Clark and others whose lives have been changed by the gospel message.
  • We thank and praise God for people’s prayers and generous offerings and rejoice in the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with more souls!

We need to keep looking for new locations to plant churches—to share God’s message of salvation with the lost. This is just the beginning; I can’t wait to see what God will do next—especially knowing that he is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

In Christ’s service,
Sean Young
Sr. Director of Missions Operations.

PS: Taste of Missions is this Saturday, June 10th, and there is still time to register. We’d love to see you there!