Blessings and thanks

When WELS meets in convention, delegates react to and adopt many resolutions. While those resolutions that provide direction for the work of the synod can sound businesslike with words like “whereas” and “resolved,” there are many statements of faith as well. Many reports and resolutions offer thanks to God for specific blessings or petition the Lord with particular requests.

The following is a sampling of those expressions of gratitude or petitions to the Lord from the convention reports and resolutions. They are offered here so that you can participate in these expressions of faith, just as your representatives did at the convention.

Resolved to give thanks to the Lord . . .

• for providing the annual funding for an archivist through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

• for the work he is doing through the ongoing work of Christian Aid and Relief.

• for the work that the Conference of Presidents does in encouraging congregations to support our synod’s ministry plan.

• for the many opportunities to share the gospel with those around us and through the world.

• for the many opportunities to expand WELS ministry as reflected in the list of unfunded priorities.

• for the blessings bestowed upon new missions through WELS Church Extension Fund.

• for the unique blessings of our three-tiered ministerial education system.

• that many WELS congregations have taken advantage of more than two hundred Schools of Outreach since 1993.

• for the faithful work done by the Commission on Lutheran Schools in the area of developing Lutheran school leadership.

• for his servants’ faithful service as leaders in WELS.

Resolved to ask the Lord for . . .

• his blessings on the doctrinal discussions the Commission on Inter-Church Relations has with individuals and churches around the world who are seeking to take confessional Lutheran stances.

• courage and protection for those called to serve in places we ourselves cannot go and for those who live in these lands, often under dangerous conditions.

• generous hearts for his people to provide for the ministry financial plan.

• his blessings on the gospel ministry envisioned by the ministry financial plan.

• his blessings on the faithful work of the Christian giving counselors, who encourage and help Christians grow in the grace of giving.

• his blessings on the special offering to retire the synod’s $4.7 million debt.

Thanks to convention delegate and FIC contributing editor Prof. James Pope for ideas and his help with this story.

 

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Author:
Volume 102, Number 10
Issue: October 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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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Resolutions set the synod’s course for the next biennium

Twenty-seven floor committees worked to accomplish the business of the 63rd WELS Biennial Convention. Floor committee chairmen read reports and presented resolutions upon which delegates could discuss, consider, and vote.

The Ministry Financial Plan proposed by the Synodical Council was adopted. Floor Committee #10, Finance and Budget, noted that the plan “not only maintains existing ministry but also provides for careful growth.” Resolution 10-02, which was also adopted, encourages congregations to prayerfully consider increasing their Congregation Mission Offerings to help sustain and grow ministry. The current Financial Ministry Plan is based on a one percent increase in Congregation Mission Offerings in both 2016 and 2017.

Funding for a full-time archivist is included in the Ministry Financial Plan for the next biennium. The position is being funded by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Floor Committee #8, WELS Archives, resolved “that Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary proceed with its plan to fund for two years a qualified archivist who can oversee the relocation of materials from its campus to the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry.” The resolution was adopted.

Floor Committee #21, the Ad Hoc Commission 2 Floor Committee, presented ten resolutions, which were all adopted, and one report. This Ad Hoc Commission was established by a resolution from the 2013 synod convention to “look at all areas of the synod structure and programs especially in the areas not addressed by the previous commission.” The commission addressed 13 topics in depth, and the floor committee addressed each one.

In Resolution 21-01, delegates approved the recommendation from the Ad Hoc Commission 2 to have the Synodical Council’s Compensation Review Committee develop a draft proposal of revised guidelines. The current compensation guidelines were developed in 2003.

Resolution 21-02 rejects the Ad Hoc Commission 2’s recommendation for delegates to serve at two consecutive conventions to help provide better preparation and continuity. The resolution encourages the Conference of Presidents to investigate other methods to better prepare delegates for synod convention.

Resolutions 21-03 and 21-04 affirm the current practice of electing district and synod praesidium by taking nominations from the convention floor. The adopted resolutions also encourage districts and the synod to develop procedures to allow delegates to become better acquainted with the list of nominated candidates.

The first resolution presented by Floor Committee #14, Congregation and Ministry Support Group A—Worship, Evangelism, and Congregational Counseling, recommended that the Conference of Presidents make the call of the Commission on Congregational Counseling director permanent. The resolution notes that the Commission on Congregational Counseling is currently serving 41 congregations in the Self-Assessment and Adjustment Program with 81 more waiting to be served. Delegates adopted the resolution.

Floor Committee #2, Conference of Presidents, presented a resolution titled “WELS TLC (Translation Liaison Committee)”, which was passed by delegates. The resolution asks the Conference of Presidents to direct a review of the upcoming revised edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) with the results of the review to be shared at the 2017 synod convention or the 2019 convention, if necessary.

Floor Committee #2 also presented a series of resolutions supporting and encouraging continuing education for called workers. All new WELS teachers will now participate in a program of new teacher induction, while all new graduates of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will participate in a three-year mentoring program for new pastors. Congregations are encouraged to provide the resources of time and money for all called workers to “pursue ministry-long spiritual and professional growth.”

 

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Volume 102, Number 10
Issue: October 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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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Summer conferences provide learning opportunities

Three conferences this past summer gave attendees opportunities to learn more about the work we do together as a synod as well as to strengthen their skills and network with other WELS members.

More than four hundred teachers, principals, school leaders, and presenters met at the Country Springs Hotel, Pewaukee, Wis., for the National School Leadership Conference June 15-18. “The conference was designed to help school leaders reflect and improve upon their spiritual, mental, and physical well-being,” says Shawn Herkstroeter, principal at Faith, Fond du Lac, Wis., and conference chairman. Worship, keynote speakers, and sectionals centered on the theme of soul, mind, and body based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Attendees also had the opportunity to network and interact with other WELS professional educators from preschool through college.

Ben Carlovsky was excited to attend the conference as the new assistant principal at Abiding Word, Houston, Tex. “The title of school leader is fairly new to me. For the past eleven years, I had served as youth minister in Wisconsin,” he says. “My new call as assistant principal has me looking for ways to improve upon the excellence of our WELS school.”

He says one area he was interested in learning more about was facilitating teacher development through standards. The conference helped him start to put a plan in place. “Our school is planning on using Individual Ministry Development Plans based on the WELS Teaching Standards. The purpose is to help each teacher grow professionally and spiritually in a method that follows a plan, holds everyone accountable, and is transformational through the gospel.”

The next school leadership conference will be held in 2018.

From June 25–28, more than one thousand women learned about and showed their support for WELS mission work at the 52nd annual Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) convention in South Dakota. Sola Millet, who has attended 47 of the 52 LWMS conventions, says, “[The convention was] exciting and inspiring, awakening understanding and renewing our efforts to share the good news with everyone. Renewing friendships and making new friends with like-minded ladies from all around is truly inspiring. This has been true of past conventions and was very definitely evident at this convention. The smiles and hugs and the shared concerns do unite us. There is nowhere else that we can receive so much information about the mission work of our synod.”

During the convention, more than $25,000 was collected to support WELS mission work. Throughout the year, LWMS chapters collectively offered $38,350 for Asia Lutheran Seminary and $38,350 for the Tools for Outreach project from Home Missions. The k.i.d.s. care Russia project received about $65,000, including a $15,000 matching grant.

New LWMS President Karen Fischer says, “This convention was warm and friendly while still being global in scope and impact. What a joy and privilege to experience the love and heart for missions from so many women of the LWMS.”

Next year’s convention will be held in St. Charles, Ill. Registration opens January 2016. For more about LWMS, visit www.lwms.org.

Attendees learned about where technology meets ministry at the third large conference this summer—WELSTech Conference 2015. About 250 people attended the July 9–11 event in Pewaukee, Wis.

“We envisioned the conference as a chance for people to share their experience and expertise across several different tracks—church, communication, office and productivity, outreach, school, system administration, tools, and web,” says Sallie Draper, WELS technology trainer and conference co-planner. “Many who attended told us they had problems deciding what to attend because there were so many great options.”

Draper and Martin Spriggs, WELS chief technology officer, broadcast the 400th episode of WELSTech at the conference. This weekly show explores the use of technology to further the spread of the gospel. “We’ve seen the WELSTech community grow steadily as more and more people contribute their experience and expertise to the show,” says Draper. “The conference was a great opportunity to gather this virtual community for some face-to-face sharing and fellowship.”

Download the presentations and watch the archived livestream of the conference at www.wels.net/welstechconf. View the latest WELSTech episode at welstech.wels.net.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Grace in Grenada becomes an aquaponics hub

“It’s not just raising fish but fishers of men,” says Daniel Rautenberg, pastor at Grace, Grande Anse, Grenada.

Rautenberg is referring to Grace’s aquaponics project, which was launched in May. Aquaponics is the practice of raising fish and growing vegetables in a self-contained system.

Dr. Robert Anderson, professor of biology at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC), Milwaukee, Wis., developed the idea of implementing aquaponics at Grace. Anderson is the son of a missionary and has had a love for missions throughout his life. As a member of the WELS Board for World Missions since 2007, he has visited many WELS mission fields and talked with nationals about their church and community needs.

“What I have noted,” says Anderson, “is that a key aspect of spreading the gospel is the need for methods to engage with the local community. On some mission fields, community engagement involves teaching English or providing study centers. As I became aware of aquaponics, it occurred to me that aquaponics could be an outreach tool for our mission congregations in developing countries.”

Anderson secured a grant from WLC to pursue the idea of developing a simplified aquaponics system that could be built by nationals on the mission field. Anderson partnered with Kingdom Workers and targeted Grace in Grenada as the first mission to begin this project because there is a Kingdom Workers coordinator on the island.

As Ryan Hellpap, Kingdom Workers’ field manager in the Caribbean, explains, “One of the key roles I play in helping Grace is to alleviate the strain on local mission resources when an outside project like aquaponics is introduced into an outreach program. My biggest role then was to network on the island for membership, government, and community support; plan the event with the WLC team; and facilitate the training events.”

Anderson, with the help of WLC student Marilee Gloe, met with government officials and local farmers in Grenada in 2013 to gauge the potential for aquaponics in the community. Then this May, Anderson traveled to Grenada with 2015 WLC graduate Zachary Pappenfuss, who led five workshops on the technical aspects of aquaponics for members of Grace and its community. By the time Anderson and Pappenfuss left, a fully functional aquaponics system was in place on Grace’s campus.

“In just one week,” Hellpap reports, “aquaponics brought 54 residents to the campus who had not known or been to Grace before. Twenty of them attended worship services at the end of the week of training. Six participants have begun attending Bible information classes with the intention to join the church. These are the immediate blessings. Behind the scenes, the relationships that were created through the development and execution of the program will enable Grace to conduct beneficial programs in the future.”

Hellpap also says that the aquaponics system is a blessing to the community because it is “providing a sustainable food source that is resilient enough to provide sustenance through natural disasters like hurricanes, while helping to alleviate the problems of overfishing and degradation of the coral reefs. At the same time the process allows for a home-based business to help address the 20 percent-plus unemployment rate of the island.”

Hellpap says that three things are essential for any mission congregation considering an aquaponics program. First, conduct a community needs assessment. Second, understand the cultural significance of fish within a culture. “Here, fish is a main staple of the diet and the act of fishing is a cultural foundation,” notes Hellpap. “Therefore, the idea of raising fish is appealing as the fish population is changing in the ocean. Finally, patience, patience, patience. This program can often seem slow in developing. Ministries must identify strong local leaders in the membership to lead this and trust that they can drive it.”

Future aquaponics sites may include Indonesia, Zambia, and Malawi.

Pappenfuss concludes, “A project like this in a WELS mission congregation offers the benefit of reaching out using not only spiritual nourishment and sustainability, but also physical nourishment and sustainability. By incorporating aquaponics, Grace has positioned itself to be an aquaponics hub for the island of Grenada.”


 

What is aquaponics? Dr. Robert Anderson, creator of the aquaponics project at Grace in Grenada, explains, “Aquaponics combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) in a semi-closed system. Water from the fish tank that contains waste produced by the fish is pumped into a grow bed where plants are suspended in the water and use the fish waste as fertilizer. In this way the plants clean the water so it can drain back into the fish tank. One pump circulates the water through the system over and over again as the fish and plants grow, so you can produce good protein and vegetables and use only a small amount of water.”

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Nearly 50-year-old ministry looking for new ways to serve

Nearly 50-year-old ministry looking for new ways to serve the visually impaired

It was 1969. Richard Nixon was president. The median household income was $8,500. Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles were on the radio. The war was still going on in Vietnam, and Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon.

That same year in WELS, there was a push to develop materials for the visually impaired. WELS President Oscar Naumann asked for Luther’s Catechism to be transcribed into Braille, and an appeal for Braillists was sent throughout the synod.

“A close friend and I, as young mothers, felt the need for some mental challenge in our daily routine so decided to give it a try. We began training by correspondence and were certified by the Library of Congress. It was truly a most enjoyable challenge,” says Sue Holzhueter, a WELS volunteer who has transcribed Braille for the past 47 years.

That transcription work was the start of WELS’ Mission for the Visually Impaired (MVI), which serves people who are unable to read normal print. Manned by volunteers, MVI produces devotional and other materials in Braille, large print, and cassette tape, which are then distributed free to people throughout the world.

Meditations and Forward in Christ on cassette had always been the most requested of our items,” says Cathie Humann, general manager for MVI. She says although the number of requests for cassette tapes has decreased over the past decade because of changes in technology, the production of Braille materials has nearly doubled—and those same changes in technology are making it easier to both produce and consume the materials.

“We recently received a letter from a woman who stopped receiving devotional materials on cassette because her tape player broke, but she is now listening to the daily devotions on the WELS Web site podcast channel www.wels.net/news-media/podcasts,” says Humann. “She made that effort because those devotions were that important to her. That letter made my day because she is using another means to get that message.”

The MVI is hoping for more success stories like that. In fact, James Behringer, director of WELS’ Commission on Special Ministries, has assembled a group of volunteers who help with technological projects, such as making sure the newly redesigned WELS website is accessible for visually impaired people who use Internet screen readers. “Blind people are becoming more independent now; they can get most things on the Internet,” says Behringer. “The group of volunteers I regularly consult with is helping us get into the 21st century—but at the same time, we still need experts in Braille.”

Mary Price, a Braillist who has served for the past 45 years, says even though the technology has changed, the need for the gospel hasn’t. “I pray that this work at the MVI will continue,” she says. “It may take forms other than Braille and tapes, but it should continue. When I began transcribing 45 years ago, there was always someone telling us of the new advances that would make our work obsolete. That prediction may come true, but there will always be those who need our service, and God expects us to serve them by telling them the story of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To learn more about this ministry or browse the catalog of resources available through MVI, visit www.wels.net/visually-impaired.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Students share international experiences

MLC students share international experiences

This year, 13 graduates from Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., elected international service, bringing the number to 60 MLC students and graduates who work in foreign settings.

According to Thomas Hunter, MLC director of International Services, this connection between MLC students and mission outreach is natural. “[It’s] rooted in the heart of the Great Commission,” he says. “This command moves the mission-minded servant to go beyond familiar borders and into places they have often never experienced firsthand before. It’s a natural connection here at MLC—the college of ministry—as students explore new areas of ministry.”

As a way to both inform and encourage others in worldwide outreach, the MLC International Services Office sponsors an annual Thalassa Contest, in which MLC students and graduates share a picture and a personal reflection on their ministry overseas. This year’s winner is Sara Schmeling, a 2011 graduate who served in Novosibirsk, Russia, teaching English and leading Bible studies and other church programs. The MLC International Services Office funded the $1,000 prize, awarding $500 to Sara and $500 to the mission she chose, Daylight in Russia.

Here is Schmeling’s winning submission:


 

God’s light in a world of darkness

Dark. Cold. Dreary. Those are words commonly associated with Russia. Having adventured through frigid Siberian winter and traveled through several days of Arctic night, I can attest to this.

Walking in sub-zero temperatures, on a January night, in St. Petersburg, was a moment that brought those words to my mind. Ahead was my destination, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a giant Orthodox church engineered to inspire awe. However, the information plaques surrounding it focused more on its historical significance than the Savior of its name. Floodlights illuminated the church with a blinding intensity when compared to the night.

That wasn’t what caught my attention however. The moon was holding its own, shining down and spreading its glow, even as the church and the rest of the city lights tried to drown it out.

God’s love works just the same here. The darkness of the world, the inaccuracies of the Orthodoxy, and shadows of logic over faith try to obscure God’s grace. But there is always the glow, the glimmer—no matter how faint—of the gospel being faithfully proclaimed.

John 8 declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” From the missionaries welcoming us with open arms and the church members that are always ready with a smile and helping hands, to the joyful children who are learning to appreciate an oasis of love, God’s light and love is evident everywhere. For those we came to serve, we pray that they see God’s light in us.

Light. Warm. Loving. When I hear the word Russia, those will be the words that I think of, and I pray that HIS Light will keep shining in this country and all others.

Read the articles of past winners at mlc-wels.edu/thalassa.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Q&A with a Native American pastor

Kirk Massey graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., in 2015 through a joint program of the Apache Christian Training School (ACTS), East Fork, Ariz., and the Pastoral Studies Institute. Over the past 20 years, he and his wife, Sheree, has been involved with the Apache Lutheran Mission, especially in youth and family ministry. Kirk also served as field director, working with leaders in both the southern and northern reservations. Now he is one of two national pastors and two evangelists for the mission. Here he shares his hopes and goals in his new position.


Q: Why did you decide to become a pastor?

A: About ten years ago, one of the retired missionaries serving half time on the field encouraged me to consider becoming a pastor. It took a few years to finally realize that God was calling me to serve his people on the Native American field. It was in 2011 when the talk of becoming a pastor started to resurface, and the director of ACTS approached me with a plan. After praying about it for a while, I was led to take up the challenge.

I wanted to become part of a team and work alongside my brothers and also to be an example to the other Native American brothers and encourage them to take part in the work on the field.

Q: How did you feel when you graduated?

A: I felt happy, grateful, relieved, and humble. I was glad the official studying part was over and happy to get involved in full-time service to the church. I was grateful and humble to be walking through the ceremony on the campus where thousands of others walked after completing their studies.

Q: Where are you serving now? What are your responsibilities?

A: I am serving the whole Native American mission field but working closely with Open Bible Lutheran Church and Shepherd in the Pines Lutheran Church in McNary. . . . I will also teach in the Apache Christian Training School. But the biggest part will be to mentor the men in both congregations and walk and learn with them with the goal of one day getting them into the pastoral or evangelist tract of ACTS. Lord willing, maybe one day in a few years, there will be five to ten men getting ordained and commissioned to serve the churches on both reservations.

Q: Why do you feel it is important to have Apache men serve as pastors/leaders in Apacheland?

A: When the Wisconsin Synod sent missionaries to the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations, they were following Christ’s commission. . . . The Native American men who we will be mentoring and encouraging can take the gospel message to members of the reservations not only here in Arizona, but across the United States. I want my brothers to share in the joy of spreading the gospel to places that need to hear about their Savior.

Q: What opportunities does ACTS provide for Apache students?

A: The opportunity that ACTS offers to the students is the flexibility it has. . . . If a student has a full-time job and is available for only a few hours a week, the program can be delivered in a way to fit the student’s time but also can accomplish the goal of training the student in God’s Word. There are several levels in the ACTS program to train people to become a Bible teacher, evangelist, youth and family counselor, deacon, pastoral assistant, teachers, and pastors.

Currently, there are no men entering the evangelist or pastor tract, but there are many men who attend the classes to strengthen their Bible knowledge of law and gospel and ways to show their faith in Jesus and serve others. It will be an emphasis of the team as we work to move the Apache field forward to identify, mentor, encourage, and train more men and women on the field to become teachers and pastors to carry the name of Jesus to this reservation and to other reservations in the United States.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: Please continue to pray for the Apache field as it reaches inward to the members of the Apache field to strengthen their relationship with Jesus but also as we make plans to take this message to other tribes in America.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

More funding from Home Missions for outreach opportunities

In June the Board for Home Missions (BHM) authorized funding for a new mission as well as for enhancing a self-supporting ministry. The new mission is a multi-site effort of Cross of Glory, Peoria, Ariz. The self-supporting congregation looking to enhance its cross-cultural outreach is Risen Savior, Milwaukee, Wis.

Home Missions already had authorized the establishment of six new home missions in 2015. After reviewing current finances, looking ahead at future budgets, and evaluating incoming specials gifts, the BHM determined it was able to authorize one more mission as well as enhance one ministry for a year.

Cross of Glory, a congregation of 269 members in the greater Phoenix area, is planning to establish a second site in nearby Vistancia, a growing community eight miles west of the congregation. The community’s current population is 16,000, but it is projected to grow to more than 70,000 people; currently only one Protestant church is in the area. Cross of Glory already has been canvassing in that community. Funding will allow the congregation to provide the necessary facilities in Vistancia and to call a second pastor to lead outreach efforts, do prospect follow-up, and eventually begin Bible study and worship services at the new site.

Risen Savior, Milwaukee, Wis., located on the northwest side of the city, ministers to a mix of people that represents its multicultural community: Anglo, African-American, and Hispanic. The congregation began outreach to the Hispanic community ten years ago. Currently about 80 attend the church’s weekly Spanish service and 150?? its English service. Its school is at capacity with 240 students—40 percent of which are Hispanic, 40 percent African-American, and 20 percent other cultures. The school offers many opportunities for outreach to the children and their parents, though not all become supporting members of the congregation. A one-year ministry enhancement grant from Home Missions will “give us the opportunity to develop plans for a longer-term stewardship maintenance of the ministry,” says Risen Savior’s pastor Charles Pappenfuss, which includes financially supporting its Spanish-speaking pastor, Luis Acosta.

Keith Free, BHM administrator, says there are more requests waiting for funding. “We are encouraging the district mission boards to work closely with the core groups in these potential new missions so when there is funding and a pastor has accepted a call, these missions are ready to go,” says Free.

Author:
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Northwestern Publishing House Materials

Northwestern Publishing House has two products that will complement the film My Son, My Savior. Both will be available when the movie is released in October.

Sarah Habben wrote a book titled The Mom God Chose, which explores Mary as the mother of Jesus. The book strives to show that the same promises that God made to Mary can buoy every mom. Each chapter closes with questions to ponder and a prayer. The book also includes interviews with contemporary Christian mothers who, like Mary, sometimes make mistakes and other times wow us with their witness—moms whose true strength lies in their Savior’s love.

Pam Holz wrote a collection of seven devotions with prayers as a companion piece for the video. Written for mothers, the devotions could be used by others as well.

Look for more information in upcoming months.

Author:
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Advent by Candlelight Program

This Advent by Candlelight program focuses on Jesus’ life as seen through the eyes of his mother, Mary. Written as a first-person narrative, the program invites the audience to reflect with Mary on familiar stories of the Savior, which take on new meaning when viewed from a mother’s perspective.

The program will be available at www.wels.net/evangelism in October.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Meet the editorial staff: Uncut-Kock

Ever ask yourself, “Who are these people who write for Forward in Christ?” Through this series you can find out.

When questioned about his new Bible study series for Forward in Christ, Tom Kock replies, “ ‘You’re writing a series of articles on the genealogy section of Matthew 1?!?’ Yeah, I can hear the incredulity. But those people who are listed there are, well, people! And some of them have incredibly fascinating stories. . . . Sometimes from their life experiences we’ll be reminded of God’s love; from some of their life experiences we’ll be forced to check our own life priorities.”

Kock has plenty of experience writing Bible studies and devotions. A 1992 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., Kock began his ministry by establishing a congregation in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee. Kock led the congregation, which became known as Living Word, for 22 years, and the Holy Spirit blessed his work as the congregation grew to include almost 300 members while also helping establish a congregation in a nearby town.

Kock has served for eight years as a member of the Commission on Adult Discipleship and has helped coordinate the commission’s efforts to provide live, interactive Bible studies online. Kock himself led an online study titled “Who am I, and why am I here?” He also was instrumental in creating the daily devotions that are sent out by the WELS Commission on Evangelism.

In 2014, Kock began serving as a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. “My call is primarily to help train future pastors how to teach,” he says. “I taught the senior education class this past year, which is primarily training the men how to write and teach good adult Bible studies. Seeing their growth in understanding how and why to do it and watching them grow in their ability has proven to be very satisfying.”

Although parts of his heart still ache for the people that he served at Living Word, Kock says he loves watching the seminary students in chapel and thinking, “How many lives will they touch? How many people will come to know Jesus through them? Where will they serve?

See how Kock puts what he teaches into practice in the first installment of “Real people in the line of the real Savior” 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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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New WELS movie: My Son, My Savior

New WELS movie: My Son, My Savior

Filming for the new WELS movie, My Son, My Savior, took place in late May and early June. This movie, told from the perspective of Jesus’ mother Mary, details the birth, life, and ministry of Jesus.

“Only one woman had the unique privilege to call Jesus her son,” notes Mike Hintz, director of the WELS Commission on Evangelism. “WELS’ newest outreach movie, My Son, My Savior, portrays Mary experiencing the miracle of Jesus’ coming and then humbly growing in her understanding that her son is also her Savior. The good news is that Jesus is our Savior too. He is the one whom God gave to rescue people from sin and death.”

Filming for My Son, My Savior took place in late May and early June, and the film is scheduled to be released in October so that it can be used for outreach during Advent.

My Son, My Savior will help Christians prepare for the celebration of Christmas by pondering, like Mary, the miraculous birth of Jesus and God’s saving purpose for sending him into the world,” says Hintz.

Congregations can expect a number of resources to be available that will complement the movie, including a four-session Bible study, Advent by Candlelight materials, and a guide for those who want to use the movie during a worship service. Because the movie is designed to be an outreach tool, the Commission on Evangelism will provide suggestions for congregations and members on ways to distribute the movie and will offer copies of the DVD at a quantity discount as well as a postcard inviting people to Christmas services.

Families can use a study resource for small groups to discuss and apply the scriptural truths depicted in the movie. A personal reflection guide will help individuals focus on the movie’s main thoughts. In addition, Northwestern Publishing House will sell a booklet of seven devotions based on the movie’s themes and a book entitled The Mom God Chose.

My Son, My Savior is the third in a series of four outreach movies that are planned as a collaboration between WELS Commissions on Evangelism and Adult Discipleship, Northwestern Publishing House, WELS Multi-Language Publications, and Boettcher+ Trinklein Television, Inc. The first two movies, Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me, have been distributed worldwide and received critical acclaim from a number of Christian film groups.

Steve Boettcher, the director and producer of all three movies, says that the goal behind this series of movies is to create a modern outreach tool that can be seen and understood by people all over the world.

If you missed Road to Emmaus or Come Follow Me, both movies are available through Northwestern Publishing House at 800-662-6022 or www.nph.net.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

WELS Historical Institute

The WELS Historical Institute recently received a complete set of Luther’s Works published from 1729-33 in Leipzig, Germany. The 24-volume set was given to the institute by the John Hoenecke family. It was originally purchased by Pastor Otto Hoenecke, longtime director at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, and given to his grandson, Pastor John Hoenecke. These books arrange Luther’s writings in topical fashion, with two volumes bound together, for a total of 12 large pigskin books. Published by Johann Zedler in the German language, they are among the earliest complete compilations of all of Luther’s writings. This collection was added to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Rare Book Room at a ceremony in November 2014. In addition to members of the Historical Institute Board, several members of the John Hoenecke family were present, including John’s widow, Arline, and four sons, Jon, David, Mark, and Joe.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 4
Issue: April 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Relief efforts for Malawi flood victims

Relief efforts have been ongoing in the flood-damaged areas of Malawi. WELS missionaries in Malawi, leaders from the Lutheran Church of Central Africa-Malawi (LCCA), WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and WELS Kingdom Workers have been collaborating to meet the needs of affected LCCA members from WELS’ sister synod in Malawi. So far, Christian Aid and Relief has designated $50,000 to relief efforts, but initial assessments indicate that needs are extensive and ongoing.

In January, Malawi experienced damaging floods that destroyed or damaged the homes of an estimated 3,200 LCCA families and nearly 20 LCCA church buildings. The floods also washed away crops, depleting the local food supplies, and increased the threat of diseases such as malaria and cholera.

So far, Kingdom Workers volunteers and LCCA leaders, working with Christian Aid and Relief, have been distributing supply buckets with sheet plastic, nails, and blankets to provide temporary housing to affected families. To help expedite the travel and delivery process, Christian Aid and Relief is funding two more Kingdom Workers volunteers to rent additional trucks in Malawi and get supplies to members more quickly.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief Director of Operations Mark Vance traveled to Malawi in March to assess the damage and to determine ongoing relief needs, particularly food and medical needs in addition to the structural damage to homes and churches.

LCCA members are thankful for the support. “How can we thank God enough for you, our brothers and sisters in America! You have poured out your earnest prayers like a mighty flood before God’s throne. You do not know our names and we do not know yours, yet you have come to our assistance,” says Riphat Matope, president of the LCCA-Malawi Synod. “These gifts of love do more than warm our bodies in the cold hours of the night. They warm our hearts, for now we know that you are one with us in Christ!”

To help support relief efforts, you can donate online (choose Christian Aid and Relief) or send checks to WELS, Re: Christian Aid and Relief, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive, Waukesha, WI 53188.

 

Author:
Volume 102, Number 4
Issue: April 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

NPH to publish Lutheran Bible translation

Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) will be publishing a new translation of the Bible produced by the Wartburg Project, an independent Lutheran Bible translation effort by WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) pastors and professors.

Since late in 2013, more than 90 WELS and ELS pastors, professors, and others have been working through the Wartburg Project on the translation. The goal is to publish a New Testament and Psalms special edition in 2017, with a future date for the complete Bible yet to be determined.

NPH was chosen from among other publishers to publish this new translation. “Printing this translation aligns with NPH’s mission to ‘deliver biblically sound, Christ-centered resources within WELS and beyond,’ ” says Bill Ziche, NPH president. But he stresses that this will not be the only translation used by NPH in its materials. “NPH will continue to pursue an ‘eclectic approach,’ as directed by synod resolution, utilizing the best translation for the context of any given work. The Wartburg Project translation will be one translation option among others.”

Not funded, owned, or directed by WELS, the Wartburg Project formed after the 2013 synod convention. While convention delegates defeated a resolution calling for the synod praesidium to appoint a committee to explore producing a Lutheran translation of the Bible, discussion on the floor was encouraging for those who wanted to work on a translation on their own. “There were a number of groups doing that,” says Prof. John Brug, general editor and Old Testament editor for the Wartburg Project. “We thought, why not try to bring everyone together under one umbrella in a purely positive project.”

Brug says the Wartburg Project’s goal is to aim for the “middle road” in its translation. “We feel there are some translations that depart fairly freely, not necessarily from the biblical meaning, but they don’t preserve a lot of the traditional biblical language. On the other hand there are some translations that are kind of wooden and hard to read, but they’re quite close to the biblical language. We’re trying to aim for the middle spot.” He says that means they will preserve traditional biblical idioms like “the glory of the Lord” and “manger” but also look for better ways to say things that may be confusing in other translations.

While the translation is based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts, translators also will be building on the heritage of the English translations that already are available. “From the beginning, I’ve enjoyed saying that we are standing on the shoulders of giants,” says Pastor Brian Keller, New Testament editor. “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Copyright laws are certainly being honored. But there is this long tradition of English Bible translation that provides a base to work with.”

They also are taking into account the language used in our current hymnal and catechism. “We want to be fresh, but we also want to be rooted in the language of worship and the hymnal and what people already know,” says Brug.

About 20 pastors and professors are the main core of translators and technical reviewers. More than 70 other pastors and professors as well as additional teachers and laypeople are helping with readability. All are volunteers, working on the project in their spare time.

“One of the blessings of the Wartburg Project is the great opportunity which it is providing to many of our pastors for continuing education in the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible,” says Brug. “The knowledge they are gaining will provide rich dividends to the church as it works its way into their preaching, teaching, and writing.”

Members of the Wartburg Project are excited that the translation is progressing so quickly. “We appreciate all the support, encouragement, and prayers,” says Keller. “We thank God for his blessing and ask for his help. If this translation turns out to be a blessing for many, may God alone have all glory and praise!”

Learn more about the Wartburg Project. Download a complimentary Passion History developed by the Wartburg Project and learn more about NPH’s publishing plans

Author:
Volume 102, Number 4
Issue: April 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

New spanish-language website for outreach and training

In an effort to get the gospel into the homes of more families in Latin America, a new Spanish-language website, Academia Cristo (Christ Academy), has been developed to provide further outreach and training opportunities.

“We have an opportunity to communicate the gospel in Latin America like we’ve never had before,” says Michael Hartman, field coordinator for Latin America, referring to the statistic that there will be 70 million smartphone users in Mexico by the end of 2015. “People are getting on the Internet, and they’re getting on with their mobile phones.”

Whereas Spanish-language printed materials developed by Multi-Language Publications had been used in the past, the goal is to replace this written material with videos and audio Bible studies that can be distributed more widely through the Internet. Hartman says this will be appealing to Latinos, who don’t have a reading culture but are regularly on their smartphones.

While there will be simple courses available for non-Christians, the point of the site isn’t strictly outreach. “Gospel outreach happens when you sit down and you talk with your friends or family about Jesus,” says Hartman. “What we really want to do is enable Christians to be able to do just that.”

For that purpose, Academia Cristo will also include a level of courses for local leaders that will show them how to share their faith. A future goal is to add seminary courses for those training for the ministry.

World Missions sees this site as a way to help serve scattered members throughout Latin America, providing ways for them to grow in the faith as well as share their faith with others.

For example, when violence erupted in villages in northern Mexico due to drug trafficking, members of churches in our sister synod Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Confesional (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mexico) had to flee south to find safer places to live. “How do you help those people to gather around God’s Word?” says Hartman. “You provide simple Bible studies that people can work through and learn from even if there isn’t a pastor there.”

Or when members of our Bolivian church travel to remote areas and meet others who are interested in learning more about Lutheranism, they now have resources they can use to help them proclaim God’s Word.

With more and more Hispanics moving into the United States and connecting with WELS churches there, the site also offers a way for those far away from their homeland to share the gospel message they discovered.

This is not to take away the human element. A missionary or a national pastor is connected to each course, available to answer questions and concerns. Two members of the Latin American mission team also work directly with national church bodies and their members to explore new opportunities for outreach and training. One lives in Mexico; the other works with Hispanic members throughout the United States.

Author:
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: April 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Let your light shine: Marathon

Members of Eternal Love, Appleton, Wis., have turned an irritant into an opportunity to let their lights shine.

Every September the Fox Cities Marathon is run on a Sunday morning. The marathon’s route surrounds our church property, going down the street in front of our church early in the route and then on the street behind our church at about mile 18. As a result, the roads around our church are blocked off and closed at portions of the morning between 7 A.M. and noon. This makes it extremely difficult for our worshipers to get to our church that Sunday, and our attendance (and offerings) drop by about 30 to 50 percent.

For the first few years this happened, we were irritated by the marathon because it kept so many away from the Word. But for the past six years, instead of resenting it, Eternal Love has embraced it and has held hymn-sings down at the road as the runners and walkers go past.

More than five thousand marathon participants are greeted with our testimony of praise and a confession of our faith in the words of our hymns and praise songs. Many marathoners react in kind, pointing to the sky, giving us thumbs up, and running close to give high-fives to the singers. Almost every year runners send notes of thanks after the marathon for the Christian testimony that we give. The marathon is no longer an irritant, but an opportunity to share our testimony of praise to our God.

This year we made our testimony bigger and better. In spite of the rain, we set up a tent; rolled a keyboard out there; had a trumpet, guitars, and a lead singer; put up witness signs and balloons; and sang and cheered for 30 minutes as the mass of runners went by. It was awesome. We had about 35 participants from our church, in spite of the fact that it was 7 A.M., rainy, cold, and very hard to get to the church.

Next year, if the weather is better, we hope to double the numbers. We actually hope the marathon doesn’t change the route.

 

 

Author: Robert Balza Sr.
Volume 102, Number 2
Issue: February 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

Benefiting our workers with WELS VEBA

Charles Heup, pastor at Good Shepherd, Plymouth, Wis., discovered he had Cystic Fibrosis (CF) when he was in college. Now 59, he has been controlling the disease through daily treatment and highly specialized medication. His lungs operate at less than 40 percent of their capacity, but the treatment and medication keep him functioning normally, a blessing to this pastor, husband, and father.

Heup’s congregation offers its called workers WELS VEBA health care coverage.

“Every time my doctor says we need something, we submit it to WELS VEBA and VEBA has covered everything that we’ve needed to do, including a new medication,” says Heup.

The Husby family had a similar experience with their WELS VEBA coverage. The evidence is displayed proudly on their refrigerator—an explanation of benefits from Cassie Husby’s recent double lung transplant. The cost: $494,000. What the Husbys owed: $0.

“WELS VEBA is a program that works so well that I don’t even have to think about it,” says Jeremy Husby, pastor at Peace, Hartford, Wis. “It allows me to be able to focus on the things that are important—my wife’s health, my daughter, and my ministry.”

WELS established the health care system called WELS VEBA more than 30 years ago to provide for its workers’ health care needs. About 80 percent of WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod calling bodies provide this nationwide, long-term health coverage to their pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay workers.

“WELS VEBA’s strength lies in the large number of workers and calling bodies across the country that join together and participate in our synod’s health plan,” says Joshua Peterman, director of WELS Benefit Plans. “In this way, WELS VEBA has been able to provide consistent, comprehensive benefits to our workers and their families for generations.”

Knowing that coverage will remain intact offers peace of mind to called workers when they receive calls to different ministries or congregations. “[Health care coverage] doesn’t even factor into my decision,” says Heup. “I can focus on the question all called workers should focus on when they get a call: ‘Where can I serve the Lord with the talents he has given me.’ ”

Through WELS VEBA, health care costs of covered workers are shared across all participating calling bodies throughout the synod. Churches and schools don’t have to worry about the cost of benefits when making a call, since the plan’s premium costs are the same across all age groups. WELS VEBA also doesn’t charge higher premiums based on an individual’s medical care needs. It protects called workers and their calling bodies by ensuring comprehensive coverage for all participants in the plan.

“With WELS VEBA rates consistent across all ages and because the vetting of plans has already been done, we can focus on the ministry when making decisions about calling our called workers and not get hung up on details like insurance,” says Stan Bothe, congregation president at Peace, Green Lake, Wis.

He continues, “We’re not big and we don’t have unlimited funding, so to know we can offer our teachers and our pastor a good health plan that will meet their needs and that they can take with them if they should be called into a new ministry is a relief. It’s important to take care of the people who work in the ministry.”

 

 

Author:
Volume 101, Number 11
Issue: November 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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

 

 

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 © 2019
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 © 2019
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.”

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

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Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author:
Volume 101, Number 8
Issue: August 2014

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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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