Guarding the faith of the faithful guardians

Military men and women defend us. They willingly serve our country. Their training prepares them to be leaders, achievers, warriors. We might think that these people don’t need a thing, except maybe a call from home or a package of items that are hard to get when you’re far away.

Few people consider the spiritual needs of our military men and women. Yet during those years in service, they may face life-or-death situations. They encounter pressures that civilians would never guess come with military life. They may feel they are sinning when they use violence against the enemy, not understanding the role that God has for them.

This is why we need you to provide WELS Military Services with contact information for members in the military. Our 125 Military Contact Pastors, our National Civilian Chaplain Paul Ziemer, and European Civilian Chaplain Don Stuppy understand the issues. If our service members connect with God’s Word, then instead of drifting away from their faith, they often gain a new appreciation for the Lord and his Word. Please go to wels.net/refer for the sake of the spiritual needs of those who serve us!

Learn more at wels.net/military. Find resources at csm.welsrc.net/military.

To add a service member to the mailing list, go to wels.net/refer.

 

 

 

Inclusion can be the key

C.S. Lewis once pointed out that “membership” came into common language through Paul’s writing about the “Body of Christ.” He said that the world wants to define a “member” in terms of how all members are alike.

In the Body of Christ, the members are not the same, but they belong to each other. Family members (mother, father, child, grandparent) are also very different. They use their position to love and help each other. Members are not alike and don’t have to be the same in order to serve God’s purpose.

How many members of your church can you identify as intellectually or developmentally disabled? Statistically, one in six children have one or more developmental disabilities! Many of these do not remain members of the church when they grow up. Yet God created them to be members of his body.

WELS Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry (IDDM) seeks to help congregations share the gospel with those who have special education needs. We are also passionate about helping churches to be a Christian network for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families. Our partner, Jesus Cares Ministry, is a prime supplier of Christian education materials to conquer this barrier. IDDM’s resources help churches to include special needs families in worship, fellowship, and serving.

Inclusion of adults and children with these challenges will flow from our faith that Christ died for all, and all people need to hear that. Jesus calls us to love and serve one another. We want each person, regardless of ability, to see their place as a member of the Body of Christ. When we strive to be inclusive, challenges will lead to joys. Let IDDM help your church, or connect your family to others who can help. We belong to each other!

Learn more at wels.net/iddm. Find resources at csm.welsrc.net/iddm.

To add a special needs individual to the mailing list, go to wels.net/refer.

 

 

 

Going outside the walls

In case it escaped your notice, people are not generally breaking down the doors of our churches, asking us to serve their spiritual needs. There is usually plenty of room in our pews.

But outside the walls, an enormous mission field awaits. Some of those souls are unable to attend regular worship, while others are simply ignorant of their greatest need. Even if they have questions about God, they may not know whom to trust for reliable answers.

So we need to go outside the walls, and chaplaincy is an excellent way to do that. Chaplains seek to bring the comfort of a compassionate, listening heart to hurting souls. So they go to meet people where they are, sometimes in a time of tragedy or great loss, and bring with them a human, caring presence. In some cases, that compassion will open a door to direct—or redirect—a lost sheep to the Good Shepherd.

There are opportunities for chaplaincy in many areas: in hospitals and care facilities, in jails and prisons, in police and fire agencies, on campuses and in locker rooms, at everyday workplaces and at once-in-a-lifetime disasters. And if someone is going to be there, don’t we want it be someone who can properly apply law and gospel?

Chaplain Certification classes, offered online through Martin Luther College, demonstrate to public institutions that a chaplain has completed a certain level of spiritual guidance training appropriate to serve those within that institution. Required courses include Communicating Forgiveness, A Spiritual Approach to Addiction Counseling, and Chaplaincy Issues and Fieldwork. Earning a Chaplain Certificate does not, by itself, qualify one for a call into the public ministry, but it surely makes the student more qualified to minister to souls.

Learn more at mlc-wels.edu/continuing-education/wels-chaplain-certificate, or contact Rev. Robert Dick, chairman of the Chaplain Certification Committee, at chaplaincert@wels.net.

 

 

 

Keep your staff happy

The Care Committee for Called Workers (CCCW) exists to provide assistance to WELS calling bodies, their called workers, and other staff. Every calling body can benefit from having a committee focused on supporting and encouraging its workers. The CCCW has resources that can help you establish a new care committee or improve one that is already in place.

Calling bodies can support their called workers in several areas:

  • Spiritual support can involve encouraging personal prayer and Bible study, staff Bible study, and other opportunities for the strengthening and expression of faith.
  • Physical needs begin when a called worker accepts a call. The new worker may need assistance securing housing, locating doctors, dentists, banks, auto repair shops, etc. Ongoing discussions may involve salary and benefits, vacation policy, home repair and improvement, tax preparation, and providing support in emergency situations.
  • Support for intellectual needs means encouraging called workers to continue their education. The calling body is encouraged to subsidize the cost of continuing education, including travel and child care expenses.
  • Emotional support includes offering assistance to alleviate stress or deal with workplace conflicts. This is especially important when personal or family counseling may be needed. You can show appreciation by recognizing personal and professional anniversaries with gifts, providing a meal during busy times, arranging child care for an evening out, or inviting the called worker over for dinner.
  • Retirement planning and investing should be addressed as early as possible in a worker’s career. It is important to understand the WELS pension plan, Social Security, and personal investing such as the WELS Shepherd Plan. By using the available tools and resources, each worker can become financially literate and develop a long-term plan for a comfortable retirement. Calling bodies are encouraged to help build their workers’ retirement accounts either through matching contributions or a lump sum contribution.

The synodical CCCW serves local committees and workers by producing user-friendly resources, such as a how-to video for starting a local care committee and retirement planning tools.

Learn more at wels.net/cccw. Find resources at csm.welsrc.net/cccw.

 

 

 

Online course on Scriptural counseling

The WELS/ELS Christian Therapists Network initially focused on finding counselors who are members of our churches. Now the Network is launching an online class for masters-level therapists. “Acting on Hope I: Peace, Comfort, and Hope in Christ Crucified and Arisen” (PSY9501) will be offered through Martin Luther College.

“Acting on Hope I” is the basic course in the Acting on Hope/Bible-Based Counseling Curriculum. As students learn from each other, the teacher, and the textbook, they will develop their own way of using Scripture in counseling sessions that will best honor the Word of God, best help their clients, and that will respect and use evidence-based counseling best practices and methods.

The one-credit course is worth 25 clock hours and lasts for ten weeks. Tuition is $310. The instructor is Rev. Alan Siggelkow, LCSW, a former parish pastor who taught pastoral counseling at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary for 20 years.

Learn more at mlc-wels.edu/continuing-education/registration/new-student-registration or contact Alan Siggelkow at ahsiggelkow@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Small Town, Big Outreach

Being Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, it’s obvious that the state of the Wisconsin has many WELS churches… 433 to be exact. With such a large number of congregations, we assume that every county would be served with the gospel in its truth and purity. Currently there isn’t a single WELS church in all of Richland County, a rural area in the Southwest corner of the state. Dual parish members at nearby St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hillpoint, Wis., and Trinity Lutheran Church in Lime Ridge, Wis., saw there was a need to reach out to their neighbors with the life-saving message of the gospel. They decided to act.

Local Newspaper Highlighted the Event

Over the past 18 months, the two churches have paired up to conduct exploratory mission work in the nearby city of Richland Center. Since starting, two Easter for Kids events have been held at the local community center. Twenty-five people attended in year one, and they were blessed with 40 children in attendance this past spring. Pastor Dan Lewig, who serves both congregations, now holds a monthly, Saturday Bible Class at a local restaurant called “Bible Breakfast Hour.” The local District Mission Board (DMB) and the Board for Home Missions (BHM) have been working alongside them since the beginning. In September of this year, the dual parish requested and was approved by the BHM to receive unsubsidized mission status1.

On Sat., Dec. 16 at the Richland Center Community Center, the churches hosted their largest outreach event to date: A Journey to Bethlehem Live Nativity Event. Pastor Lewig notes, “This event has been a wonderful example of our synod working together. My two congregations have over 25 volunteers helping; to put it in perspective, we average 75 people in church on Sunday mornings between our two congregations. One of my members has built all the wooden structures we will be using for the event. In addition, we have partnered with the Ladies Aid from St. John’s in Juneau, Wis., who is making the costumes for the event. Members of Lakeside Lutheran High School’s Junior Choir will be there singing Christmas carols, and we also have a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary student helping us out.”

6,500 postcards ready to be mailed

The Board for Home Missions provided a special grant, which was used to create a direct mailing that was sent to the mailbox of everyone in Richland County – over 6,500 mailings total. The local newspaper picked up on the event and did a wonderful front-page story that reached many in the community. Pastor Lewig is also being interviewed by a local radio station for continued promotion. With the Lord’s blessing, the group hopes to draw over 200 people from the community to this event.

Pastor Lewig commented on the large volunteer initiative backing the event, “It has been amazing watching this all come together, seeing so many different sources partnering on this project – all sharing the same desire to reach out with the gospel. We are excited for this opportunity to share the true joy and peace that is found in the manger in Bethlehem!”

Post-Script: Pastor Lewig reports, “What an amazing day! Preparing for our first year of hosting this we didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping to have maybe 100-200 people attend our first year… and over 400 came to our Live Nativity this year!”

1An unsubsidized mission is a mission church that does not receive budgetary financial support (subsidy) from Home Missions. Unsubsidized missions have access to a Mission Counselor and can make requests for special project funds through its District Mission Board (DMB).

 

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Guarding the faith of our faithful guardians

Lucas Hendricks serves on the Lutheran Military Support Group (lutheranmilitary.org) and is a member of Trinity, Woodbridge, Va.

Death. For the Christian, that word has lost the terror of a permanent event. We know that death is the beginning of life eternal in paradise. But what if your vocation regularly brings you face to face with mortality? You crave the reminder that death is temporary, because it looks, smells, and feels so permanent.

Our military men and women are either in combat, recovering from combat, or preparing to go into combat. They need soul care, but church involvement with the state is problematic. Attending a local congregation is an option—when they are stationed near one and have time to attend. But when deployed, or stationed far from a confessional church, they lose access to the sacrament and mutual encouragement. Yes, technology—when available—can connect them to biblically-sound resources. Yes, they can always read God’s Word. But what hungry souls they become after many months away from their Christian brothers and sisters!

Meanwhile, the military chaplaincy travels with them. They may hear familiar prayers and hymns, receive words of comfort and encouragement. But they also hear unfamiliar doctrine and subtle error that may scratch “itching ears.” All views are considered equal. If you think their Christian faith will be attacked in college, picture the same trials in the pressure of combat! The church has an obligation to their sheep that volunteer to be sheepdogs* for a season. So what can we do?

Service members

  • Know the regulations governing religious accommodation (such as for practices like our view of fellowship and close communion).
  • Take an active role in your own soul care—what the military calls spiritual fitness. This is about your readiness for combat and your resilience when faced with the horror of war.
  • Find out if there is a WELS/ELS church near you by going to yearbook.wels.net/unitsearch. Call the pastor to request his services.
  • Contact WELS Military Services (military@wels.net) and ask what they need from you.
  • Support your local congregation and WELS Military Services with your offerings.

Pastors

  • Learn about installations near you and introduce yourself to the senior chaplain.
  • Contact WELS Military Services (military@wels.net) to learn what sheep may be in your pasture. They can also offer suggestions for effective ministry.
  • Call on troops and their families at home. Become familiar with their circumstances.
  • Visit them at work. Meet their chaplain and their commander.
  • Invite them to take on tasks in your congregation that fit their schedule and abilities.

Synod leaders

  • The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Board needs to hear from you, not for their benefit, but for the benefit of our members in service.
  • Can we get WELS/ELS recognized as an option for religious preference? This would offer another statistical reporting avenue; more important, it would alert leadership and the unit chaplain to the unique religious needs under their command.
  • Sixteen years of conflict have taken their toll and WELS/ELS service members are not immune. Because of the military’s organization, they can be isolated from the greatest source of resiliency, the means of grace. Suicide and divorce, risky and illegal behaviors are symptoms of the stress. What a huge opportunity for our God! He offers the cure for sin, fear, hurt, hatred, war, death. What a huge opportunity for his church! We have the medicine of the gospel.

* The analogy refers to citizens (sheep), attackers (wolves), and protectors (sheepdogs).

 

 

 

It’s different in Deutschland

Paul Horn is chairman of the Military Services Committee and pastor of Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church, Hiram, Ga.

I have to pay to use the restroom at the gas station? I don’t get free refills on my coffee? I have to pay for water at the restaurant, and tell the waiter if I want my water “still” or with bubbles? What do you mean I can’t call an Uber? Isn’t that a German company? They don’t speak English in this village? Doesn’t everybody speak English? No stores are open on Sunday? But I don’t have everything I need to make dinner tonight!

Americans living on the German economy soon discover that some cultural norms in the United States are not normal in Europe. Even with global trade and Amazon there are some things you just can’t get in Germany. My wife and I experienced some of this “culture shock” this summer when we visited our civilian chaplain, Pastor Don Stuppy and his wife Marge, who serve the spiritual needs of our WELS members scattered throughout Europe.

Don and Marge were just six months into their new ministry when we arrived. We spent the next two weeks traveling over 1800km (1180 miles) with them to Munich, Vilseck, Zurich, Ramstein Air Base, and Wicker. This is a typical two weeks for the Stuppy’s. Once a month they also squeeze in the Netherlands and England!

One thing Americans cannot get in Germany every Sunday, especially Christians who belong to a confessional Lutheran church body, is the divine service with Holy Communion in English. Over two weekends the four of us met with WELS members in their homes or apartments, a military base chapel or a community center. The gatherings ranged from eight to twenty souls. Some locations had a piano, other places we used music from a laptop. But every place had what these American Lutherans needed: a familiar liturgy, God’s Word proclaimed, Christ crucified preached, his body and blood distributed, hymns sung in praise and thanks, their Savior’s blessing received with grateful hearts.

WELS members in Europe expressed their deep appreciation. Even though our chaplain is only able to visit them once or twice a month, they crave that time to be fed and nourished and encouraged, to hear the promises of their Savior, and to build up their brothers and sisters.
Here in the United States we can fill our coffee cup as many times as we want without paying extra. We can order a glass of water at a restaurant and not see it on the bill. We can shop on Sunday. We can go to church every week. Some of our brothers and sisters cannot. We thank God for providing this ministry in Europe so that we are able to faithfully bring God’s Word and sacrament to his people.

What can you do to support your brothers and sisters? Pray for our civilian chaplain, his wife, and the people they serve. Email our chaplain (welschaplain@gmail.com) and let him know you’re praying for our ministry in Europe. Consider adopting the European Civilian Chaplaincy as your next mission project in your school or church. Learn more about our services to the armed forces at wels.net/military. Then, instead of talking about all the things we can’t do, you’ll be saying, “Look what our God has enabled us to do!”

 

 

 

New online training for military contact pastors

Paul Wolfgramm, a member of the Military Services Committee, served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq.

A new narrated power point available at WELS.net University offers an introduction to the military mindset. The courses on WELS.net University, an online learning environment designed to support the training needs of the Wisconsin Synod, are free. Visit wnu.wels.net to create an account, explore the course categories, and enroll. “Training for Military Contact Pastors” is available under the Special Ministries heading.

The course addresses the need for making God’s Word available to our members on active duty, and offers tips and suggestions for our pastors to reach them. WELS Military Services can bring the Word to those who cannot regularly attend a Sunday morning church service. In addition, military members face potent and regular temptations such as alcohol abuse and pornography, and face unique challenges associated with marriage and post traumatic stress disorder. The second part of the presentation discusses the importance of a solid Christian education before entering the military; Distinctive Religious Group Leaders; ways to address the transient and remote nature of the military; worship locations; and ways to involve military veterans from the congregation.

The course is available to anyone, but is especially tailored to military contact pastors (MCP’s) without military experience. WELS has over 100 MCP’s throughout the continental United States, serving congregations close to military installations. Although these men are called primarily to serve their local congregation, they also perform vital work in reaching out to the military. Active duty members rely on MCP’s to be familiar with military protocol, to serve them with God’s Word and sacraments, and to provide Christian counseling. The training course ensures that MCP’s have a basic understanding of the military and the synod resources available for their work.

Finally, all members should be aware of wels.net/refer. If you or someone you love is on active duty, in the Guard or Reserves, please register at this easy-to-use website. Without this information, WELS Military Services cannot provide spiritual support to those who are in our armed forces. Registered personnel receive a welcome package and regular devotions, plus ways to connect with our national civilian chaplain, our European civilian chaplain, our military contact pastors, and fellow WELS members on base.

When service members deploy, move overseas, permanently change station, or leave the military, PLEASE UPDATE wels.net/refer. (Don’t forget to notify your pastor as well.) Military service removes our members from their former and familiar spiritual support group. Please go right now to wels.net/refer and help connect yourself or a loved one with God’s Word.

 

 

 

“I think you could be good at it”

Bill Truebenbach is a staff minister and program consultant for Jesus Cares Ministries, a ministry of The Lutheran Home Association. His home church is Morning Star, Jackson, Wis.

Twenty-nine years of public sector work had done me in. I resigned my full-time job for a no-time job. God has always supplied, so I walked my streets praying for work in his field. A guest pastor had given me the itch by talking about volunteer ministry, and visits to a prison with my brother had given me a taste. There had to be more I could do.

One day my pastor dropped by with some news. “They’re looking for someone for Jesus Cares Ministries, and I think you could be good at it,” he suggested. “Great!” I replied, before going to look up what Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) was. That was sixteen years ago.

I had no background in what The Lutheran Home Association (TLHA) and JCM were looking for, but that did not stop me from applying. They hired me! Really? I now reflect on how God has always been in control, and the many blessings he has provided to this sinner. He has allowed me to be part of a ministry that serves people with a developmental disability. He allowed me to become a second career staff minister. And now, as I approach retirement at the end of this year, he will allow me to continue advocating for families who have a loved one with special needs.

How did I learn to work with people who have a developmental disability? I read, I studied, I attended seminars and webinars. They help. Yet the best way is to just work with someone with special needs. Many who do this work have said, “We do not teach them; they teach us.”

One who became a close friend was David Koss. Although he wore hearing aids in both ears and had some cognitive challenges, he was able to live independently. We did so many things together: basketball games, football games, movies, concerts, restaurants, fishing. David faithfully called me almost every day to see how my day was going, what I was doing, and if any new JCM programs were starting. He went with me to an annual meeting in Belle Plaine, Minn., so he could see the TLHA campus and I interviewed him in front of the attendees. When I asked David what he wanted to see in the future he said, “That there is a JCM program in every church in our synod.”

David’s passion for the ministry fueled my passion, and reminded me of the importance of serving all people. In his last years he moved to a facility where he could be cared for. It was a joy for me to speak at his memorial service and share his faith one more time. David loved the Lord, and I know many more like him in the ministry.

There are so many memories, joys, victories, and satisfactions I could share: being at the baptism of an adult with special needs; the confirmation of someone with special needs; hearing their professions of faith; seeing their smiles; going to the Lord’s Supper with them on their first time; a journey to Malawi, Africa for Jesus Cares. What more could one ask for?

I have been blessed to help churches and pastors with their disability ministry needs. JCM has grown, yet many are still not being served. There is a great need for our churches to consider a disability ministry such as JCM Bible class or simplified “Worship at the Cross” service. Learn more at tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries or call Rev. Joel Gaertner at 888-600-TLHA (8542).

There is also an urgent need for parents of special needs children to be connected with other Christian parents who are starting or have been on that journey. My hope and prayer is that through the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry branch of Special Ministries (wels.net/iddm) I can connect those parents online, with small parent-mentoring groups. Get them connected. Get them talking.

Why? They’re looking for someone. Want to join me? I think you could be good at it.

 

 

 

Wheeling around Camp SOUTH

My name is Alex Timothy Heldman. I am 12 years old and going into 7th grade. I live in Wisconsin but heard of Camp SOUTH through my Uncle Duane Vance. Camp SOUTH, which stands for Sharing Our Unity Through Him, is held in Covington, Ga. for kids entering 4th through 8th grade.

I was born with a condition called spina bifida so I have difficulty walking without braces for my legs. My parents decided to let me try out the camp and it was lots of fun! The food was good, the kids were nice, and there was a lot to do. This was my first time at camp and I had to do things a little differently, since I have used a wheelchair since I was three years old. In order to get around the campground I rode in my van with my dad since the camp is very hilly.

I was thankful that the camp allowed me to skip the water, mud, and running events and go bowling instead. I didn’t bowl my all-time best but still had a lot of fun. I was surprised that we were able to have drinks and snacks as we bowled. Tuesday night’s “Survivor Challenge: You Can’t Win Trivia” was great since we could party to the music while we answered Bible trivia questions. After the evening activities, during free time I played golf-cornhole and pingpong until it was snack time. I also enjoyed watching the other kids play ship-shore down by the lake and making s’mores on Thursday night.

I was on the black team and we didn’t win the victory medals on Tuesday or Wednesday. Finally on Thursday the black team won the victory medals after the “Recruiter vs. Recruiter: Battle of Honor” and in bowling, which meant I got to go to the front of the line for lunch and dinner on Thursday.

There was so much to do that each day just flew by. We were encouraged to arrive at the activity center early before devotions so everyone was on time and we could watch fun videos until devotion started. There were even board games that we could check out and play if we had extra energy. I would say that my favorite things about camp were playing games in the evening and the music that was part of each morning and evening devotion. It was great to have a live band to lead all the praise songs. As we were getting in the van to leave on Friday morning I told my dad: “Camp was so fun! Can we come back next year?”

My mom and dad were kind of nervous to allow me to attend the camp because it was not specific to special needs, but Pastor Jon Enter did a good job familiarizing them with the layout of the camp facilities so they were well prepared in what to bring for me for the week. I would encourage other children with special needs or different needs to not be afraid to try Camp SOUTH. It was an amazing time and I am glad God gave me this opportunity to hear his Word and make new friends.

For more information about Camp SOUTH, send an e-mail to: info@HopeLutheranWPB.com.

 

 

 

 

A purpose in disability

Elise Rosenbaum is a senior at Martin Luther College. She grew up at Grace, St. Joseph, Mich.

Growing up with a brother who has Down syndrome had more impact on me than I initially realized. I never saw Matt as being that much different from my other siblings—in fact, some people would ask if Matt and my youngest brother Adam were twins. I cannot imagine life without Matt and I know that God had a purpose in placing him in my family.

Last December, Matt put on his wish list: “Elise home for Christmas.” But I would not be there because I was going on a Kingdom Workers service immersion trip to Malawi. I was thrilled to be going to Africa after desiring it for so long.

My interest in Africa began when a new girl joined my class in sixth grade. Her family had just moved back to the United States after her dad had served for several years as a missionary in Malawi. I loved hearing her stories and dreamed of going there myself someday. Just nine years later, my dream became a reality. I asked four girls to join me: Bekah Bartz (the missionary’s daughter), Elizabeth Bergemann, Brittany Krause, and Emily Unke. We applied, were interviewed, and were eager to learn and grow from the experiences ahead.

Two short weeks in Africa taught me a great deal. One week was spent helping with Vacation Bible School; the other was observing the disability ministry. I loved getting to see the work that they were doing. There is no fancy medical equipment and the volunteers do not have much specific training, but it was incredible to see what they are able to accomplish with what they do have.

Chikondi, a young boy who has cerebral palsy, was a great example of this. The volunteers set up sticks and Chikondi had to practice walking over them. Once he made it through all of them, we cheered. He had the BIGGEST smile ever. It was so rewarding to see Chikondi’s and the volunteers’ faces light up with pride at his accomplishment.

The simplified “Worship at the Cross” services they put on are very similar to those put on by Jesus Cares Ministries in the United States. The volunteers go to the people since traveling to the church is hard, if not impossible, for them.

Their greatest challenge, however, is changing the mindset toward disability in their culture. The president of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa explained that many people in Africa see a disability as a curse. They hide their loved ones away in their homes and don’t give them the proper care. Families don’t bring their loved ones to the church for help. It is by word of mouth that the church finds out about those in their villages who need their help. The ministry’s vital task is to share the news that God has rescued all people from sin and he has a purpose for all people.

The disability ministry in Malawi is serving God by providing assistance and support, as well as sharing Jesus’ love for those who have a disability. Rather than being a punishment for sin, God has a purpose in disability.

Interested in this service immersion trip? Learn more at kingdomworkers.com/opportunities.

 

 

 

Who will serve those who serve?

DiAnn Krigbaum is a member of New Life Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill.

What happens when a police officer’s family is in crisis and needs to call 911? Easy answer, right? When I’m finished sharing my experience you might have a different perspective.

I had more than twenty years on the job as a Rockford, Ill. police officer. For over half of my career I served as a detective, investigating and fighting for justice for victims of violence. Too often those victims were women, children, and families.

In 2008 my family became the victim when we were traumatized by divorce. My twin sons had just begun college; my 12-year-old daughter was in sixth grade. When Satan attacks us emotionally it affects us physically and spiritually as well. I was a severely depressed mother who had become the primary caregiver. I was on overload—physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

My daughter was profoundly affected. Ashlee has an intellectual disability and had no words to express her pain. We adopted her at age five, when she had already endured more rejection, shame, and loss than someone her age should. A crisis social worker came to my home to help with the anger and fallout.

As the situation escalated the social worker told me to call 911. I couldn’t. I froze. I was the police! I was supposed to help solve and fix problems. My mind was racing. What would my co-workers and supervisors think of me? The enormous shame and pain from loss and failure left me unable to move.

The collateral damage severely wounded every member of my family. I nearly lost my job. Had God abandoned us?

But God did not forget about me and my family. He appeared “undercover” in the form of a chaplain. My pastor at the time was also a volunteer police chaplain. He came to my rescue by repeatedly reminding me that God was not trying to harm me but to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13). As my companion at difficult court appearances, doctor visits, and therapy appointments, he showed me what it means to be a faithful, merciful friend and advocate. He became my spiritual advisor and listened to more tearful conversations than I can count.

By God’s grace, I survived in my career until age 50, when I retired with a police pension and sufficient means to take care of my family as a single mother.

That’s when Pastor Phil asked me to take chaplain courses with him through Martin Luther College. He suggested it would help my faith grow and allow others to learn from my experiences.

In an online forum with other pastors and lay students, I was able to share my experiences as a police officer and spiritually wounded WELS member. This provided healing, learning, spiritual growth, and friendships with many Christian friends and called workers. In 2014 I received my Chaplain Certificate from Martin Luther College.

Since then I have been serving as a volunteer police chaplain in my community. God has provided several opportunities to serve families and women in crisis. I’ve been able to witness and minister to them, telling them about my God and Savior. He is a just and merciful Father who fights for the fatherless, the widows, and the orphans.

We all have a story. God does not define us by our failures. Rather he calls us back to him to remind us who we are—children of God.

Visit mlc-wels.edu/continuing-education/wels-chaplain-certificate to learn more about the Chaplain Certification Program and see the courses offered in 2018. Financial aid is available for many classes.

 

 

Assist your new called worker with the transition

Matt Kock is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Minocqua, Wis.

Our church and school recently welcomed three called workers and their families. We wanted to help them with the transition and on-boarding process, which would provide a good test for our new Care Committee for Called Workers (CCCW).

We streamlined communication as much as possible, with one main point of contact from our congregation and school. We also tried to consolidate information into a single message vs. sending multiple notes. We recognized how busy their lives would be and wanted to simplify things as much as possible. By starting the process well in advance of their arrival dates, they wouldn’t feel rushed.

Pastor Stephen Luchterhand notes: “This cross-country move (Arizona to Wisconsin) was a challenging one for our family, especially because our children are older (late high school to college age). The evident care and concern, attention to detail and intentional communication, and enthusiastic search for solutions by Trinity’s CCCW lessened our anxiety considerably and removed considerable barriers during the process.”

It’s important to keep the called worker’s family in mind during this process. We placed pictures of the new called workers and their families in the fellowship hall shortly after the calls had been accepted. Not only did this allow our members to put a face with the name, but it reminded the congregation to keep the families in their prayers.

We also asked about the family’s areas of interest. For those seeking employment we came up with a list of businesses and contacts for them to consider, as well as congregation members who could be used as references. Our tuition fund application was shared with students attending Luther Prep School.

Teachers Mike and MeLissa Wieting were appreciative. “It was so nice to be referred to members of the community who could help us with buying a home and moving to the area. They had names of a realtor, mortgage company, an insurance contact, and a moving company that led us through the intimidating process. We had never had to purchase our own home before so we had lots of questions. Our care committee even stepped in to preview homes on our behalf before we made a special trip to the area to see a property. Being a few hours away, an overwhelming process was made easier due to our CCCW.”

While the Call cover letter shared a summary of compensation and benefits, there were many details that needed to be addressed during the transition, such as: the timing and frequency of payroll; local banking options; tax withholding elections (yes, Social Security can be withheld on line 6 of Form W-4 for ministers of the gospel); and contributions to the Health Savings Account and 403b plan. There are nuances between the different health insurance plans offered through WELS. Understanding these differences, and/or coordinating a call with a benefit specialist to review together, would be productive.

Now that the called workers are here, we have stayed in touch. From helping to find a chiropractor and contractor, to directing them to a good beach for a family swim, there was much to share as they settled in. Most important, we “pray continually” for our called workers (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This encouragement has become a regular part of our CCCW report to the congregation.

Interested in starting a Care Committee at your congregation? Find resources and a how-to video at csm.welsrc.net/download-csm/called-worker-care.

 

 

 

Luther and sign language

Amid a host of Reformation 500 celebration ideas, from Lego Luther figures to books and movies, this one stands out. The Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MDHH) has produced an eight-minute video that uses sign language, voice, and captioning to explain Luther’s Seal. The Reformer designed the seal to symbolize the heart of his teachings about faith in Jesus. As a graphic adds each part of the seal, Matthew Buchholz explains the meaning using American Sign Language.

The video is a special gift to deaf Lutherans who may be interested in learning about the symbolism of Luther’s seal. MDHH also hopes that it will be used with children to teach them about Luther’s seal while seeing it described in sign language.

You’ll find the video at the Special Ministries Resource Center at csm.welsrc.net/mdhh. It will be a fun way to draw people into the anniversary celebration and show them the eternal blessing of faith in Jesus. Share it on social media and with your family, too!

 

 

 

Tuition grants for American Sign Language class

Martin Luther College is offering American Sign Language and Introduction to Deaf Culture (ASL 8001), an online, three-credit course, from January 3 to May 4, 2018. The course provides the basic foundation of American Sign Language through an overview of deaf culture and an introduction to the signing of finger spelling and basic vocabulary with beginning-level conversations. The instructor is Matthew Buchholz, a member of the WELS Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Here is what previous students have said:

“I never expected to receive so much from this experience. . .I have a deeper understanding of the culture, needs, and resources available to the deaf and hard of hearing community and a whole bunch of signs in my arsenal.” (Trisha)

“I already have oodles and oodles of ideas on how I can revamp some of my lesson plans for next year to include sign language.” (Sandy)
“Thank you also for making this course available and affordable. Beginning to learn ASL has been a wonderful challenge, but for me, learning about deaf culture in this course has been invaluable. I hope that this course is made available in the future so that more people can have a greater understanding of the deaf and hard of hearing.” (Cori)

“I didn’t really know what to expect when enrolling in this class. I would have never imagined learning all that we have learned.” (Jill)
A limited number of $450 grants toward tuition are available upon request and will be paid upon the completion of the course. Learn more at mlc-wels.edu/continuing-education/registration. A poster to promote the class can be downloaded from the Special Ministries Resource Center at csm.welsrc.net/mission-for-the-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing.

 

 

 

2018 WELS Lutheran Seniors convention

Seniors from any congregation in the WELS or ELS should set aside Oct. 10-12, 2018, for the OWLS Convention for Seniors, which will be held at the beautiful Osthoff Resort, in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The theme of the convention will be “Finish Your Race.”

Whether your congregation has a seniors group or an OWLS chapter or no senior gatherings for fun and service, you’ll find fellowship, learning, and inspiration at the OWLS Convention for Seniors. Watch the WELS website in spring of 2018 for more information.

 

 

Reminiscence From a Retired Nurse

For those of you too young to remember I will share a story from nursing school; when we attended class at the hospital! My story begins with my joy of being Lutheran and my love for nursing. I was able to hold onto both even as I attended classes at Milwaukee County General Hospital in their School of Nursing. My joy came from the interaction we had with Pastor Arnold Schroeder, who was the Chaplain at the hospital. He was the original model for what is now known as “Institutional Ministries” in the WELS. He was fantastic with the patients, and we were also blessed to have him as a guest lecturer each year (yes, even for a public education program). The focus of his talk with us was how we could serve God through our careers. To be a Lutheran and have one of our pastors come and give such an inspiring message made me so proud and feeling blessed. Pastor Schroeder was truly a gifted speaker.

Years later as I was working as a nurse on a psychiatric unit, the words of Pastor Schroeder became very useful. The patients were challenging, the staff very supportive and yet we all struggled to keep going some days. I was known to many as the “WELS lady,” as I shared the joy of my faith, my church family in Muskego, and the happiness I felt by singing in the choir. There were other Lutherans on staff from St. Philip’s in Milwaukee and we must have made an impression on people as there was a real effort made by them to act in both word and deed in a Christian manner. I know that approaching our work from this viewpoint helped us find ways to bring peace to the unit and could feel more confident in our own safety. At the time, while still in school, I didn’t understand how writing a spiritual assessment for my patients would be a vital skill in my career. I approached this part of the care plan from my Lutheran faith and am so grateful to have had this foundation, and I am sure is why I received A’s.

By Gail Maxwell, RN
(edited by Wendy Crary-with permission)

 

 

A Resourceful RN

I am one of several nurses in our small, rural church in Fairfax, Minn. Over the years, I have found that when a member of our congregation needs medical assistance during a service or event, the only tools I had at my disposal in church were my hands and my watch. As an ICU nurse in a local hospital, I am used to having all the necessary nursing tools for any situation that arises. We do not have a formal parish nurse program in our church, so this is when Thrivent Choice Dollars came to the rescue! I applied for a Thrivent grant in the amount of $250 to help with some basic parish nursing supplies for our church. With this money, I purchased a manual blood pressure cuff (with two sizes of cuffs) and a battery operated, automatic blood pressure cuff for the congregation to use if one of our nurses are not present. I bought a stethoscope, CPR masks, large first aid kit, gloves, ice packs, hand gel and cleaning wipes (for use on the equipment in between patients). All of these items were placed in a clear bin for all to see and use and is located in the narthex of the church for easy access. I would encourage everyone to use their Thrivent Choice Dollars to jump start their parish nursing program!
By Amy Buboltz, BSN, RN

 

 

News and notes: Fall 2017

Welcome new Council Members: Mary Bruskewitz and Kristi Opper have kindly offered to join our small team and add their God given talent to our efforts! We welcome you with open arms, and pray you find the work fulfilling.

Spring Conference—Mid April 2018, at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.: With an excursion planned to Bethany Lutheran College’s new Nursing Program for a tour of the facility and fellowship. Stay tuned for more specifics as the Council and Conference Planning team finalize arrangements.

Parish Nurse Course: Online Summer 2017 had students from California, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Keep these nurses in your prayers as they apply that knowledge and they establish a parish nurse ministry in their congregation and a big thank you to Christian Aid & Relief for the matching funds grant to help with tuition costs!

Stateside Opportunity—Nurse Coordinator: Have a love for missions? The Central Africa Medical Mission is looking for a Registered Nurse to serve on our stateside committee. While the nurse coordinator must be an RN, extensive knowledge of CAMM is not necessary. Those interested must be WELS or ELS and have a willingness to learn about the influence CAMM has on those we serve in Zambia and Malawi. Please contact Linda Liesener at cammcontact@charter.net or Shelly Sievert at sievertsr@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

New graduates to new missionaries

Meet Missionary William Dunn
It has now been just over six months since receiving my assignment to the bilingual Spanish mission congregation, La Iglesia Luterana San Pedro in Milwaukee, and yet it feels like yesterday. I remember hearing the assignment “San Pedro Lutheran Church,” and thinking “Spanish ministry, oh boy, in the past four years I’ve only had one semester of Spanish at the seminary and two weeks of work in Mexico…how is this going to work out?” But as it turned out, the mission at San Pedro was a bilingual Spanish mission with a bilingual worship service. Then I learned that St. Peter was not only bilingual, but actually trilingual, with services in Spanish, English, and Karen. Several times a year we even have a service that incorporates all three, such as our Trilingual Thanksgiving service! The longer I have been at St. Peter getting to know the congregation, the more I am excited to be here and to serve here. Learning about all of the different cultures and backgrounds has been both humbling and energizing. We are multicultural and intercultural. We have so many outreach opportunities in our immediate community as well as through our elementary school, Christ-St. Peter. And as it turns out, all the Spanish classes at MLC come back quickly (though there is still work to be done).

It has now been just over six months since graduation and assignment day and yet it also feels like the distant past. There have been so many changes. We moved from Grafton to Milwaukee. Baby number three was added in October. The ministry at San Pedro is continually growing and full of potential. I have been overwhelmed by the loving reception I have received as I continue to visit our families in order to get to know them better and begin developing a vision for the future. God has truly blessed this church and we are blessed to be a part of it!

Meet Missionary Matthew Rothe
Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, Va., to start a new mission I was quickly astonished by two glaring facts. First, there are many existing churches here. Second, there are tons of people who live here. After meeting many people from the community, I discovered another saddening piece of data. The math doesn’t add up. Despite the great number of churches, many people don’t go to church. Solution: Fredericksburg indeed needs a new church devoted to making new disciples by sharing the old, old story of Jesus and His love!

In this ripe harvest field I am blessed to serve alongside a core group of 14 families who comprise The Way Church’s launch team. Together we meet bi-monthly to study God’s Word, develop the culture of The Way Church, and share the vision and values that will lead us forward. Our launch team also “breaks the huddle” going out into the community to canvass and serve.

The Way Church is launching September 10, 2017. We are in the pre-launch phase, which means we are not holding weekly worship services… yet. During this phase I am able to focus on exploring our community and doing outreach in it. This has not come without challenges.

Pastorally, I have been stretched by going outside my comfort zone to witness to people not like me, finding myself in leadership settings where I’ve previously had little experience, and simply learning how to start a church. Personally, however, I have been humbled by seeing Our Helper give me His Words to speak and giving me understanding to act according to His Will.

I praise God who, throughout this experience, has strengthened my faith in Him and love for Him. I am also thankful for my training at WLS, MLC, and LPS that taught me the necessary skills for being a missionary and, additionally, nurtured in me a mission mindset eager to share the gospel.

Meet Missionary GunnaLedermann 
When did you first hear the words, “Jesus loves you?” Maybe it was your mom or dad who passed on their faith by sharing the Word of God with you and having you baptized as a baby. Maybe you were a little older and a teacher shared the message of Jesus, while teaching the wonders of creation. Or maybe a pastor came to your door, met you at a festival or at the gym and told you about Jesus’ love. This is our mission in Rockwall, Tex., and your message in your neighborhood. In March of 2016, a group from Divine Peace Lutheran Church in Garland, Tex., began mission work in Rockwall. On December 4, we had a grand opening inviting the community to come and hear the message of Jesus. We thank God for your prayers and gracious gifts in support of our mission. God richly bless you with joy as you share Jesus’ love and with peace as you trust in Jesus’ promise of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.

“We are working with Dave Malnes of Praise and Proclaim on an outreach campaign to canvass some of the newer neighborhoods of Rockwall. We had pairs who will go door to door in December to invite the community to a BBQ dinner,, followed by worship. My wife, Marinda, has been working as the project manager organizing the volunteers for dinners, canvassing, t-shirt designs, etc. As a new graduate, working with Praise and Proclaim has been a great benefit. We are the 11th project Dave has worked on and his approach gives everyone a sense of calm during the whole process. Our project has also been blessed by the efforts of Alli Pappathopoulos from TwelveTwoCreative. Her company has been working with WELS churches on their outreach strategies, canvassing materials and communication with the local community. Alli worked with us to create a new website, logo, all the mailers for the Praise and Proclaim campaign and so much more. God has richly blessed this campaign with so many willing and skilled workers, we look forward to going out into the harvest fields.”

Meet Missionary Ryan Kolander
On July 31, I was ordained and installed as the second pastor at Palabra de Vida in Detroit, Mich. My dad preached, and nineteen brothers in ministry laid their hands on my head as they gave me words of strength and encouragement from the Word. Some even recited their verse in Spanish (with a little rehearsing, of course). It was a day I will remember for a long time.

After a three-day orientation with Mission Counselor Tim Flunker, I spread my young ministry wings and fluttered out of the nest! My associate, Pastor Ismael Sialer, has been very helpful in introducing me to people in the community and congregation alike. We even performed a quinceañera celebration, in which we read and preached God’s Word to around 100 guests who had never been in our church before! In these first few months of ministry, I’ve been able to drive and walk around our diverse neighborhood, begin to instruct a few people who are new to the faith, start and lead a children’s “Growing with Jesus” class, preach a number of sermons in both Spanish and English, run a clothing drive, assist with our food drives, meet with several church families, prospects, and community leaders alike, and even dabble in building a website. Please pray for our congregation, that the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen our faith through the Word so that we can share it with others who need it desperately in our community.

Meet Missionary Peter Janke
I’ve been in East Asia for around seven months now, and it’s hard to count how many ways God has blessed me in this time. Maybe I’ll tally them up for my own benefit now and so that you too can give thanks to God and pray that they may continue.

First off, the team that I work with in the field is outstanding. I am blessed to work with a team of other missionaries that are full of advice and encouragement. Their lives show how close their relationship is to Christ.

I also work in my city with a team of evangelists. Their willingness to invest their time into the lives of others is a real mark of their Christian love. They are always eager to introduce their friends to Jesus as well.

I also feel blessed to get to spend extra time studying the local language. I’m talking with friends, with taxi drivers and street cleaners, with little kids in elevators, and striking up conversations with people I’d never imagined I’d have the chance to talk to. All of this is preparing me for future work in the language.

I also consider the food to be a blessing. Maybe it’s because I love to eat food and especially spicy food, but I have come to long for Asian food more than the mashed potatoes and turkey I grew up with. My favorite kind of food is hot pot. It involves letting raw foods cook in a spicy soup in the middle of the table. I’ve spent many hours with friends eating good food and having great conversations.

The friendships I’ve made with East Asian people have been a blessing as well. A friend named Jason had started learning about Jesus through us from scratch–no knowledge of Jesus at all. Through our studies and one-on-one encouragement we witnessed the Holy Spirit working in his heart. Jason asked if I could teach him how to pray, he wanted his first prayer to God to be of thanks to Him, not asking for anything, or questioning God’s will. Every day I try to be a friend to others and I continue to pray that people around me see Jesus in me.

My relationship with God is my biggest blessing. Through personal devotion time with Him, God has equipped me to speak, has assured me of his forgiveness, and again and again has told me that I am his child. When I think about the things that I’ve given up to serve in East Asia–family, friends, comfort foods and ease of communication–God has made up for all of them and more.

Psalm 144:15: Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.

 

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WELS Church Extension Fund update

· $32.8 million in new loans approved for 43 congregations in fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

· $4.0 million in matching and special grants approved for 15 congregations and the Board for Home Missions.

· Five new land purchases, 25 new facility projects, and 18 other projects including renovations, increases, and refinances.

· Six mission congregations purchased existing facilities with additional loans for renovations, two missions completed a parsonage purchase, and 16 congregations were approved for new construction loans totaling $28.2 million.

 

Thank you Lutheran Women’s Mission Society

WELS Missions is blessed with many active partners who help to support the proclamation of the gospel. The Lutheran Women’s Mission Society (LWMS) is one of those important contributors. The women of LWMS support WELS mission pastors and families, as well as help provide the means to continue gospel outreach worldwide.

At the 2016 annual convention, WELS Missions received generous gifts:

Home Missions: $41,529.28 – Summer Student Assistants
World Missions: $41,529.29 – Television Broadcast for Muslim World and Theological Seminars
kids c.a.r.e. mission project: $60,816.17 – Central Africa Medical Mission Orphan/Infant Program
Worship Service Offerings: $51,620.29 – divided between home mission project Outreach to Asians and world mission project Apache Leadership and Maintenance

Since August of 2015, Home Missions has authorized close to $150,000.00 to special projects to assist and enhance mission efforts. The majority of those funds have come from LWMS gifts This year marks the 54th annual convention to be held in Orlando, Fl., June 22-25, 2017. For more, click the video link.

Missions says “thanks ever so much” to LWMS for the generous and continued support of WELS Missions.

 

 

Campus Ministry Committee initiates pilot program

How do we keep our members connected to God’s Word while they are away at college? This question has been asked by parents and congregations alike. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to connect them to a local WELS congregation or campus ministry near the school where they are attending. The WELS Campus Ministry Committee (CMC) exists to help parents and congregations in this task. Every year, the CMC sends letters to every WELS congregation asking for contact information for their high school seniors. Once this information is gathered and entered into our database it is used in two ways. First, the CMC sends out letters to every student. This letter encourages students to be involved in campus ministry and gives them the contact information for the local congregation or campus ministry where they are attending school. The CMC then sends the students’ contact information to the local contact or campus pastors so they can make contact with these students while at school. This has been an effective way over the years to connect students to local ministries.

But we can’t connect students to these local ministries if we don’t know who they are! One of the challenges the CMC has faced is the low participation of congregations in this contact information gathering effort. Historically, only about 400 of our 1300 WELS congregations have participated. This year, the CMC has initiated a pilot program to connect more students to local ministries. The CMC has engaged the help of Senior Vicar Phil Janisch from the Point of Grace Campus Ministry in Milwaukee to call congregations and ask for contact information for all their high school seniors. Vicar Janisch spends his time calling every WELS congregation who hasn’t responded to our mailing to encourage them to provide this information. Sometimes it is secretaries who gather this information. Sometimes it is the pastor. Sometimes it is an interested parent or member who does the work. To date, we have been able to gather information from an additional 400 congregations. We are grateful to see that our efforts have doubled the number of congregations participating. We are hopeful to see 100 percent participation of our congregations in this effort in the future. The more students we know of, the more we can connect to local ministries and through this keep more students connected to God’s Word. Your help is appreciated as we partner together to keep our young people connected to God’s Word.

By Rev. Charles Vannieuwenhoven

 

 

Multi-Site Conference 2016 recap

The National Multi-Site Conference for WELS Churches met November 14-16, 2016, at Grace Lutheran Church of Southern Arizona, a WELS multi-site church in Benson, Sahuarita, Tucson, and Vail. One hundred forty-four pastors, teachers, staff ministers, laypersons, and other ministry leaders attended.

What is multi-site? Multi-site is a strategy for gospel ministry and mission work: one church carrying out gospel ministry at more than one physical location, created for the primary purpose of expanding gospel outreach. In addition to simply positioning churches to share Jesus with more people, there can be other benefits such as shared resources, efficient organization, cost effective programs, reaching a new community or target audience, expanded volunteer and leadership opportunities, and more.

Why a conference? This conference provided a venue for networking and building relationships with the growing number of WELS churches investing in this work. It was designed for churches already doing multi-site ministry, as well as churches just getting started or merely considering it. The conference workshops covered a wide selection of presentations to meet the needs of everyone regardless of their level of experience. Some workshop topics, for example, focused on key multi-site components such as communication, staffing, volunteers, budget and finances, merging two or more churches, organizational structure, and more.

Who is doing multi-site? The multi-site strategy is a good fit with our Lutheran beliefs and values that have stood the test of time. While the multi-site strategy is just one of many ways to expand mission work, it is significant to note that five of the eight new mission starts authorized by WELS Home Missions in April 2016 have a multi-site component.

Conference highlights:

The keynote address set the tone for the conference. Pastor Rick Johnson shared the multi-site story of Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Corona, Beaumont, and Riverside, Calif., “bringing the gospel to more people, and more people to the gospel.” The multi-site strategy at Crown of Life has developed over the last eight years, and the church plans to add more campuses.

Pastor Ron Koehler, representing our host church, Grace Lutheran in Tucson, presented an overview of their four locations. A video demonstrated the different look and layout of each location’s facility. Pictures also helped tell the story of Grace’s multi-site ministry, which includes “saving sacred spaces.” Grace has responded to requests of neighboring churches, declining in numbers, desiring Grace’s leadership and ministry to assimilate their church into Grace’s multi-site strategy.

Pastor Daron Lindemann, chairman of the conference planning committee, and pastor of Holy Word, a multi-site church in Austin and Pflugerville, Tex., says, “The level of interest in multi-site amazed our planning committee. We had hoped for 80 people to attend, set up plans for possibly 100, and needed to make some exciting adjustments to accommodate over 140 who registered.”

“I believe that the multi-site strategy, and its variations such as mergers, offer both an answer to some challenges, and a plan for expanded gospel outreach in the WELS.”

By Rev. Nathan Strutz

 

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Looking for a double-duty missionary

It’s not often that WELS asks an overseas missionary to serve two different fields; however, the Administrative Committee for Africa is addressing unique needs in Cameroon and Nigeria with one full-time missionary that will split his time between the two countries– half for Nigeria and half for Cameroon.

In Nigeria, the double-duty missionary will coordinate all the mission work WELS is doing there including administration of board responsibilities, pastor meetings, and worker training. It will be necessary for him to be away from home fairly regularly and for some weeks at a time. We expect that he will visit Nigeria about four times per year as needed for direction and encouragement. As the coordinator of the Nigerian mission, he will take responsibility for organizing the program and communicating between the national church and WELS.

There are valid reasons not to live in Nigeria. A physical presence by a WELS missionary can, at times, result in dependency by the national leadership. Christ the King and All Saints Lutheran synods could take a step backward if there was a WELS resident missionary. There are also more security issues in Nigeria as opposed to Cameroon.

There are valid reasons to have the double-duty missionary live in Cameroon, primarily, networking opportunities. As WELS builds a foundation in Bamenda, Cameroon, the missionary will meet with leadership in the northwestern district on a monthly basis, assisting our fellow Christians to understand their opportunities and take the reins of their ministry. Our current missionary in Kumba, Cameroon, will work similarly in the southern districts as well as continue coordination of the new worker-training program there.

Some have identified this particular call as a “tough one,” or “at the outer edge of feasible.” The double-duty missionary will be a unique man with unique strengths, “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Please keep our double-duty missionary in your prayers for the challenge before him and his family as WELS’ Nigeria-Cameroon Missionary.

By Missionary Daniel Kroll

 

 

A Paul-like experience

The newest WELS-sponsored project in Europe, Outreach to Roma (OTR) [a.k.a. gypsies), has proven to be a truly Paul-like experience. The reports from Pastor/Missionary Iliyan Itsov read like a modern-day Book of Acts. Moreover, OTR’s method of gospel outreach closely resembles the method the Apostle used – a travelling missionary gathers groups and then leaves them to be served by local leaders.

There have been places like Lystra where the Apostle encountered violence. Missionary Itsov was invited by our sister church, the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Germany, to try to gather some groups in Germany, which the ELFK pastors would then serve. Itsov met with threats of physical violence and had the tires on the OTR van slashed. After about two months of outreach, a couple interested families were found.

There have been disappointments like Paul experienced when men turned away. Pastor Itsov spent several weeks in Romania to help form and legally register a Confessional Lutheran Church. The theologically trained man who had invited WELS to help later decided to associate with a different Lutheran body.

The Apostle Paul did not give up and found cities that welcomed the gospel. In Bulgaria, OTR has met with success. Itsov travels to Roma villages and shares the gospel. He gathers interested people and gives them initial instruction in the Word. With their help, he seeks to find a suitable place for worship and holds the initial services. After a few visits for worship and Bible study, he asks the group to select a leader who is willing to study the Bible in greater depth and conduct weekly services reading sermons Itsov provides. Then through periodic visits and via Internet Itsov teaches the leader.

Three such groups are now gathered in Bulgaria, each with its own leader and each with regular worship. The first group is in the village of Zlataritsa. Atanas has led the group for nearly a year now. It has an average of 18 in services. Two more groups were started in November. Bogdan is leader in Kotel, and Boyko in Stara Zagora. In all three cases the leader and members of the group have taken on the responsibility of inviting others and seeking to build a congregation. Frequently, through the many family and friendship ties among the Roma people, members are directing Itsov to other individuals and villages.

In addition, the OTR van goes out each week to three neighboring Roma villages and brings 20 people to the service at the Bulgarian Lutheran Church’s congregation in Dunavtsi.

When he is home in Dunavtsi, Itsov also helps his congregation’s pastor. Right now the congregation stuffs as many as 25 people into a rented room the size of an American living room. But, God willing, help is on the way! Itsov has received a loan from a WELS member to enable the congregation to purchase land and construct a small chapel. The cost will be kept low because volunteers will supply nearly all the labor. The present rent money and special gifts will be used to pay off the loan.

By Rev. John Vogt

 

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PSI partners with World Missions

Simon Duoth, a Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) student in Renton, Wash., is a man who understands a blessing when he sees it. As a refugee from South Sudan, a people group on the run from Muslims, from extremist government, and from neighboring tribes, he knows all too well that peace seldom lasts long. He understands that situations can change in an instant. And so, when Simon Duoth sees a blessing, he holds onto it.

Because of men like Simon, the PSI team sees a blessing: strong connections forming as stateside churches, missionaries, and churches around the world partner to respond to the growing number of people looking to WELS for training. Here are some examples of what this partnership looks like for PSI.

The PSI team is…

* partnering with the One Africa Team to meet the growing needs for training in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, and Guinee Bissau (in addition to the ongoing and new opportunities in Malawi, Zambia, Cameroon, and Nigeria).

* assisting East Asia with visiting professors to help ALS train men to be pastors, group leaders, and evangelists. We are coordinating efforts so that an East Asian PSI student in North America might also take classes with the students in East Asia.

* walking with WELS Hmong pastors to villages in Northern Vietnam where more than 70,000 Hmong Christians are longing for leaders trained with the truth that we have. It means working with them to determine what sort of training to offer and what it will take for them to walk together with us to reach even more.

* teaching Greek and Hebrew to a young man from Ukraine so that he is prepared to begin his seminary training as a future leader of the church. At the same time, we are working to connect that man with a group of 50 Ukrainians living in the small city of Wasilla, Alaska – a group that has no leader but gathers together on a weekly basis to read God’s word.

God’s people are walking together to meet the growing needs of training around the world. That’s the blessing we see right now. And it is our prayer that these partnerships continue to grow and thrive. That’s the same blessing that Simon Duoth sees and is firmly holding onto. These partnerships can exist because our foundation is the truth of God’s Word. For Simon, this means knowing that whatever church he goes to and whatever pastor, professor, or missionary he learns from he will hear the same true message. He wants nothing more than for the Sudanese refugees scattered throughout the world to be able to hear and know that same beautiful message.

By God’s grace, as we partner around the world to train up the next generation of leaders, the worldwide network of churches holding on to that same message will continue to grow and spread. For us – the PSI team – this partnership with each of you means a great blessing we are eager to hold onto.

By Rev. Jon Bare

View Moments with Missionaries video featuring PSI student, Qiang Wang, and the Saviour of the Nations mission congregation in Vancouver, Canada.

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Summer travel plans

Summer is a time for cook outs, taking in a baseball game, lazy days at the beach, tending garden, and traveling—whether for business or personal reasons.

If you are doing a lot of traveling this summer, or any time, we want to remind you of two ways you might save on your travel costs—through two ShopWELS partners: Enterprise and Choice Hotels.

Enterprise rental programs

WELS has negotiated two sets of corporate rates with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. A “Set Rate” and a “5%” rate. Check both rates to see which is lower for the day(s) you need a car. Depending on the day, one will likely be lower than the other. This program is open to all WELS members. Learn more

Choice Hotel discount

When making a hotel reservation for business or personal reasons, using Choice Hotels will save you 5 percent. We recently learned that the more this discount is used, the better the chances WELS has of obtaining a greater discount. So choose Choice and let’s get bigger discounts together. Learn more

No matter what your summer schedule looks like, we hope you are able to take a break and enjoy visiting with family and friends during the warmer weather. Safe travels and smart shopping!

Parish nursing – doing what is right and good

Written by Sue Bolha RN, Parish Nurse Council Coordinator in collaboration with Linda Golembiewski, RN, BSN and former adjunct at CUW, teaching Legal Aspects of Parish Nursing.

One of our WELS pastors recently asked about the legal ramifications of a parish nurse practice. What might a parish nurse be officially authorized to do? Any nurse, regardless of the setting in which he/she practices is guided by the policies and statutes set forth by the state in which the nurse is licensed. Since the statutes may vary from state to state it is neither necessary nor wise to make an all-inclusive policy for WELS parish nurses. It is, however, wise and necessary to review some guidelines as they apply to the unique nursing opportunities associated with parish nursing.

Liability: The Nurse Practice Act and State Statutes of the state in which the parish nurse is licensed to practice must be followed. A violation of these standards of practice constitutes unprofessional behavior and may result in the suspension, revocation and non-renewal of the nursing license. A congregation must be respectful of the standards by which a parish nurse must operate. It is a good idea to check with the church liability insurance and clarify any issues that arise. It is also a good idea, but not required, for a nurse to carry her own liability insurance.

HIPAA regulations may affect the practice of a parish nurse practice. Good communication with the members of a congregation and good documentation by the nurse will help maintain a proper program.

Types of Service: The underlying philosophy of the parish nurse program supports a non-invasive health & wellness practice, functioning under the roles of health educator, health counselor, community liaison and volunteer coordinator. Examples of a non-invasive practice might include a visitation ministry, health fairs, and health education programs, leading an exercise class, blood pressure screenings or bereavement follow-up.

Delegated Duties: The parish nurse (RN) is accountable for duties of delegation carried out in the parish nursing program guided by a job description.

Staffing: The parish nurse program is directed by a registered nurse currently licensed in the state in which he/ she serves. The parish nurse serves as a reflection of the congregation, and consequently, must serve in a manner that is consistent with the congregation’s overall ministry.
The most effective parish nurse programs include a group of nurses working together. Although not required, the additional nurses provide broader service and expertise to the program. Non-RN’s can serve within the program, but only under the direction and authority of the parish nurse (RN) and within legal guidelines.

This information on the legal issues surrounding parish nursing and more can be found in the Suggested Guidelines for WELS Parish Nursing posted on www.welsnurses.net on the Parish Nurse page. More questions? Contact us at welsnurses@wels.net.

Why would a congregation benefit from a parish nurse program? A healthier congregation is better able to serve the Lord and his people! And as the parish nurse intentionally cares for both body and soul he/she will find ways to connect them to God’s Word, giving strength to his people.

 

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