Worship Conference uplifts attendees in 2014

WELS Commission on Worship held its seventh triennial worship conference July 22-25 at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis. More than 1,000 WELS members met to be enriched in worship music, liturgy, and liturgical art at nearly 60 optional presentations.

The conference presentations covered topics from choir directing, teaching children music, graphic design, church architecture, and art. Other highlights of the conference included a festival choir of more than 120 voices, a high school honor choir, a children’s choir, and a 40-piece orchestra.

“The worship conference is very inspirational. I worked with the highest level of Christian musicians I ever have. It’s a great experience for me. It builds me up and gives me increased enthusiasm when I go back to my own congregation,” says attendee Benjamin Benson, Shepherd of the Mountains, Reno, Nev.

Gunilla Hedkvist came all the way from Sweden to attend the conference. She says, “I was at the 2008 conference and I thought it was so great, so wonderful. And when I got the opportunity to come here, I said yes immediately because I knew that I was going to learn a lot here. I’m coming from a very small church—my own congregation we usually have 15 people at a church service. To come here and sing God’s praises with a thousand people—that’s not something that happens very often in my life. It was wonderful.”

Rev. Bryan Gerlach, director of the WELS Commission on Worship, says the conference went smoothly for such a complex event; it broke attendance records for closing worship.

“There was an almost capacity crowd in a chapel rated to seat 1,700 people for the closing worship with a near flawless musical performance. And this wasn’t just music for music’s sake, but think of the spiritual impact that this has on all the attendees,” says Gerlach. “There was not only an inspiration value for all attendees, but also the trickle-down effect as they go back to their churches and serve with renewed enthusiasm, new ideas, and perspectives.”

Gerlach also noted the interest of younger generations in Lutheran worship. “When you talk about talent, the thing that is just thrilling for me is the number of young people—the number of people in the orchestra who are 20-somethings. The blossoming of talent in WELS over the last generation is so gratifying.”

The next WELS Worship Conference will be held in 2017.

 

Author:
Volume 101, Number 10
Issue: October 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

 

 

Three District Presidents elected

Three new district presidents were elected at the 2014 district conventions that were held in June. These men will join the other nine district presidents in encouraging and equipping called workers, helping congregations carry out their ministries, and serving on the Conference of Presidents.

Peter Naumann, who served as president of the Dakota-Montana District for the past 20 years, declined the nomination for election to another two-year term. As he reflects back on his time as district president, he says that his greatest joy has been “meeting the members, serving the congregations of the district, and getting to know the pastors and teachers better.”

On June 10, Douglas Free was elected the new president of the Dakota-Montana District. Free, a 1983 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., currently serves at St. Paul’s, Rapid City, S.D. He has been the first vice president of the Dakota-Montana District since 1994.

How has God prepared Free to serve as district president? He notes, “As God had James write, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen,’ having attended so many meetings, I realize the importance of listening carefully and prayerfully to everything that’s being said. My entire ministry has been spent in the Dakota-Montana District, so the called workers and various ministries are fairly familiar. That will make it easier to work with everyone in our district.”

John Steinbrenner was elected president of the Pacific Northwest District on June 12. Theodore Lambert, who had served as district president for 12 years, is retiring from the ministry. Steinbrenner says, “President Lambert did a great job of maintaining a good attitude during stressful times and situations—a reminder that God is in control and all will work out and that it is a privilege to serve the Lord regardless of our positions as servant leaders. He didn’t let himself get overwhelmed by crises—a good reminder that we are not the ‘saviors’ of the church. Jesus is the Savior of his church. We simply serve faithfully and let God bring the results.”

Steinbrenner graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1991. He was called to start a church in northwest Boise, Idaho, in 1994 and continues to serve at Cross of Christ today. Steinbrenner has served as the first vice president of the Pacific Northwest District since 2006.

“I am looking forward to working/visiting with the called workers of this Pacific Northwest District and enjoying mutual encouragement with them,” says Steinbrenner. “I am also looking forward to meeting and learning from the other district presidents and our synod’s presidium. I have a deep amount of respect for these leaders and trust I can benefit from their vast experience and Christ-centered guidance.”

Douglas Engelbrecht, president of the Northern Wisconsin District, is also retiring from the ministry. On June 17, the district elected Joel Zank to serve as its new district president. Zank, a 1987 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, has served as pastor at Mount Olive, Appleton, Wis., since 1996. In 2011, Zank began serving as first vice president of the district.

Zank says, “President Engelbrecht truly has the heart of a servant. Anyone who has worked with him knows he lives to serve Jesus. God has gifted him with the ability to be patient and loving even in the most difficult situations. You can’t learn those traits from someone, but you can admire them and pray that God would bless you in the same way. That is my prayer—that God would grant me that same servant’s heart.”

When asked what his advice for the new district presidents would be, Engelbrecht said, “Be extremely patient in dealing with people. Place all of your burdens in the hands of the Lord before you go to sleep each night. Enjoy the opportunity to serve.”

Three new Synodical Council members also were elected at the district conventions, replacing men who chose not to stand for reelection. New members are Mark Bannan, Michigan District; John Fowler, South Atlantic District; and Gary Graf, North Atlantic District.

 

 

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Author:
Volume 101, Number 9
Issue: September 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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All nations-right in the backyard

All nations—right in the backyard

Sharing the gospel with all nations takes on a new meaning at Holy Trinity, Des Moines, Wash. Located within a melting pot of cultures—one of Holy Trinity’s pastors has Somalian Muslims, Filipinos, and Hispanic immigrants living within a block of his home—Holy Trinity has opportunities to reach the world right in its own neighborhood.

“So often in the Wisconsin Synod [the Great Commission] means sending in our mission dollars so that people can go to Malawi,” says Tom Voss, pastor at Holy Trinity. “But it’s been so awesome to see that it doesn’t always mean we have to go across oceans.” Instead God has been bringing opportunities right through the congregation’s front door.

In January 2013, three Sudanese men attended worship at Holy Trinity to find out more about what WELS teaches. They were told to “go find Wisconsin” from fellow Sudanese Peter Bur, who is a member at Good Shepherd, Omaha, Neb.

Voss soon began Bible information classes with a group of 11 Sudanese adults. According to Voss, the Sudanese hesitated about attending classes since they were already Christian. But that quickly changed. Says Voss, “After three to four weeks one of them said, ‘This is really good. I’m glad we’re doing this. In all the churches we visited this is the first time anyone ever sat down and taught us about what the Bible says.’ ”

In July 2013, the congregation welcomed 45 Sudanese into their congregation, including confirming those 11 adults. The group now attends regular Sunday worship at Holy Trinity. It also holds worship in the Nuer language twice a month.

Voss says now he is concentrating on building a solid foundation for their faith. “The plan is to train leaders,” he says, “to have them continue to grow in the grace and knowledge or our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We’re equipping them to feed their own flock and to take the Word of God into their community.”

Since the Sudanese are a tight-knit group, that community could include Des Moines, Washington, or another city across the country where other immigrants have settled. The group is also passionate about returning to South Sudan to spread the gospel. Sudanese ministries in WELS congregations around the country are working to coordinate outreach and training.

Another opportunity God brought to Holy Trinity came in the form of Youn Soo Park, a Korean pastor looking for a place to hold worship for his small congregation. He became a WELS member in 2001. “I started out as a Korean minister of another Christian religion and was able to go to school through the WELS’ educational programs while working to support my family and my congregation to become an ordained WELS pastor,” says Park. Park graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2010.

Funding from the Board for Home Missions as well as other individual grants allowed Park to sell his laundry business and serve full time at Holy Trinity Korean Lutheran Church. “It is welcomed to know that we are accepted as part of the Holy Trinity campus and that both churches will work to together to make this a long lasting relationship,” says Park.

Holy Trinity Korean currently has 57 members. Besides weekly worship in Korean, Park and the congregation are reaching out to the Korean community in Des Moines, offering English as a Second Language classes (using Holy Trinity volunteers to teach), Saturday classes for the family, and Bible study on the campus of the University of Washington. Park also teaches catechism and serves as a mentor to the Korean children attending Holy Trinity’s school, many of whom come as international students. The congregation wants to start an after-school program, and Park also would like to conduct an evangelism seminar to train his members to share the gospel. “It is truly a blessing to me to be able to share the law and gospel with people of my own background yet grow with them as I too continue to learn,” he says.

Koreans who want to worship in English also can attend English services at Holy Trinity. Mark Schewe, pastor at Holy Trinity, appreciates seeing Sudanese, Korean, Hispanic, and Anglo members all worshiping together. He also notes that families from other cultures—including Samoan, Sikhs from India, Ukrainians, and Russians—are learning about the Savior through attending the school. “You can look around and see how the gospel is for all—and all are coming to hear it.”

 

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Author:
Volume 101, Number 8
Issue: August 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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