New President at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

At the end of this month, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., will experience a change in leadership. Seminary President Rev. Paul Wendland will be stepping down as president and will move back into the role of full-time classroom professor. Seminary Vice President Rev. Earle Treptow has accepted the call to serve as the seminary president and will officially begin his duties on July 1, 2019.

The role of the seminary president is an important one. It’s been said that “as the seminary goes, so goes the synod.” The seminary is the place where nearly all WELS pastors are trained, so it goes without saying that for the synod to remain faithful to God’s Word, the seminary will need to remain faithful to the doctrines of Scripture. It is the responsibility of the seminary president to ensure that the seminary carries out that responsibility.

The seminary president is also the spokesman for the seminary. Our synod looks to the seminary faculty to provide guidance and input on doctrinal matters. The Conference of Presidents often consults with the seminary faculty when discussing doctrinal issues. It is the role of the seminary president to speak for the faculty when discussions on doctrinal matters take place.

President Wendland first joined the seminary faculty in 2001 after serving in both world and home mission settings, in an established congregation, and as a professor at Northwestern College and Martin Luther College. He has served as seminary president since 2004. We are thankful for the years in which President Wendland has faithfully carried out these important responsibilities and pray for God’s continued blessings on his new role in the classroom.

Prior to coming to the seminary in 2016, President-elect Treptow served as a pastoral recruiter at Martin Luther College, as a pastor in British Columbia and Denver, Colorado, and as the president of the Nebraska District. As Treptow begins his role as seminary president, we can be thankful that God has blessed our seminary in the past and that those blessings will continue under the leadership of President Treptow.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

 

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10 for 10 encourages thoughtful Christian giving

A new congregational stewardship program called 10 for 10 is now available from WELS Congregational Services.

10 for 10 is based on three weeks of preaching and teaching on the topic of giving. Then congregation members are asked to contemplate if they are able to give one-tenth of their income to the Lord for ten straight weeks—hence the name 10 for 10. This is based on the Old Testament practice of tithing.

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

Some WELS congregations have already implemented initiatives similar to 10 for 10. Members of these churches have expressed an appreciation for the scriptural roots of these stewardship programs. Notably, 10 for 10 opens the conversation on the often difficult topic of money in a Christlike manner.

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

While it is not the focus, congregational stewardship programs like that of 10 for 10 have successfully increased weekly offerings significantly during their periods of enhanced giving, explains Dobberstein. Afterward, numbers will often decrease again slightly, but rarely do they fall as low as previous levels.

While 10 for 10 can be held at any time, WELS Congregational Services encourages congregations to begin planning this summer and to implement the program this fall.

Materials to help congregations with their planning, including a step-by-step timeline, are available on welscongregationalservices.net/10-for-10. Other introductory and promotional tools plus worship materials, midweek devotions, Sunday sermons, PowerPoint slides, videos, letters, and more can be downloaded for free to help congregations promote 10 for 10 before and after the period of advanced giving.

Visit welscongregationalservices.net/10-for-10 to begin your congregation’s planning today.

 

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Assignment of WLS graduates reduces vacancies

Assignments at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

On May 23 the synod’s Assignment Committee met at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., to assign vicars and graduates. Sixty requests came to the Assignment Committee (77 last year, 57 the year before). There were 30 candidates available (34 last year, 33 the year before). All candidates were assigned; 30 of those calls were unfilled (43 last year, 24 the year before). Of those 30 candidates, 26 were seniors receiving their first call and four were from previous classes. In addition, three were reassigned to one-year calls, and three had previous temporary assignments made permanent. Several candidates were assigned to new mission starts or restarts. After the Assignment Committee did its work, there were still 104 vacancies for pastor-trained men synodwide. About 90 of those vacancies were for parish pastors.

Congregation Mission Offerings update

Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) receipts for May of $1,826,000 represent an increase of $204,000 (12.5%) over 2018. Through May, receipts are up $153,000 (2.0%) over 2018 and are 3.3% ahead of projections for the first five months. Michigan, South Atlantic, and Western Wisconsin districts are significantly ahead of projected receipts for the first five months. This is very good news, and we can be thankful to God for moving his people to provide these offerings of thanks for the support of the work we do together as a synod.

District meetings

Most districts are holding meetings this month in a variety of formats. Some of these meetings are intended to prepare delegates for the synod convention in July; others are focusing on continuing education for called workers. The synod convention will be held July 29 through Aug. 1 at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Learn more about the synod convention at wels.net/2019synodconvention.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

Leaders discuss students’ needs at the Campus Ministry Staff Conference

From May 20-21, WELS Campus Ministry hosted the 2019 Campus Ministry Staff Conference in Pewaukee, Wis. Over 50 called workers and other ministry leaders from dozens of colleges came together to discuss their current efforts and goals.

WELS Campus Ministry, a ministry of WELS Home Missions, provides resources, support, and encouragement to approximately 30 ministries on college campuses and many congregations near college campuses in the United States and Canada.

Campus Ministry Committee Chairman Rev. Charles Vannieuwenhoven, Northdale Lutheran, Tampa, Fla., notes that the simple mission to connect college students to Jesus united all conference attendees no matter their individual circumstances.

“Sometimes we get in our minds that campus ministry has to be this big thing,” he says. “But just get those students into worship on Sunday. That’s campus ministry. Maybe you have four that you can get together for a little Bible study. That’s campus ministry. You can look at it as a youth group for college kids. That’s campus ministry. Serve the students that are there. Find ways to involve them.”

The theme of the conference was “Defending the Faith.” Rev. Michael Berg, assistant professor of theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., led a presentation about apologetics within the context of campus ministry.

“Part of a successful campus ministry,” Berg explains, “is having secular students interact with intelligent Christians so that they can see that the Christian worldview and the gospel of Jesus Christ is a viable, beautiful, life-altering thing and that it is intellectually robust.”

Attendees also learned how campus ministry might work together with other WELS ministries. Mr. Shannon Bohme, Mission Journeys coordinator, spoke about how Mission Journeys’ short-term service trips are fulfilling experiences for college-age believers.

“We can give them the opportunity to share their faith in a completely different situation with people that they don’t know and get some practice with that. Then they get to come back with that confidence and with that zeal for sharing the gospel,” Bohme says. “Hopefully then they are able to more easily put that into practice on the campus.”

Between presentations and discussions, attendees were also able to enjoy devotions, networking, and fellowship.

To learn more about WELS Campus Ministry, visit wels.net/campus-ministry. To help your organization understand the importance of campus ministry today, WELS Campus Ministry leaders are available to speak at church and synod events. Request a speaker at wels.net/speaker-request.

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WELS Night ticket deadline only days away

The Milwaukee Brewers have selected Fernanda Rocha, a May graduate from Wisconsin Lutheran High School, Milwaukee, Wis., to sing the national anthem for the sixth annual WELS Night at Miller Park on Fri., July 12, 2019. The Milwaukee Brewers play the San Francisco Giants. Game time is 7:10 p.m. Rev. James Huebner, first vice president of WELS, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Huebner is a pastor at Grace, Milwaukee, Wis.

Due to the game being sold out other than the tickets on hold for WELS members, the deadline to purchase tickets is Fri., June 14. “More than 1,200 WELS tickets have already been purchased,” says Mr. Lee Hitter, director of WELS Communications. “Groups planning to attend the game should buy tickets as soon as possible as the remaining 1,400 tickets may not last until next week Friday.”

The Brewers are offering WELS members up to 50 percent off the price of tickets. The ticket service fee will be waived for groups of 20+ if you contact Greg Souza at 414-902-4492 or Greg.souza@brewers.com.

Buy tickets online

 

Assignments at Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Last week the synod’s Assignment Committee met in New Ulm, Minn., to assign teacher and staff ministry candidates. The Assignment Committee is comprised of the Conference of Presidents and is assisted by various advisors.

One hundred forty candidates were assigned to the teaching ministry. All candidates who were able to go anywhere were assigned. Many candidates that could be assigned to limited geographical areas (due to marriage or other circumstances) were assigned, and more of those will be assigned in the coming weeks.

Two staff minister candidates who could go anywhere were assigned; two that were limited by geography were not yet assigned but could be assigned in the future if calls become available.

The complete list of assignments can be found at mlc-wels.edu.

This week the Assignment Committee moves to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. There the committee will assign vicars and pastoral candidates. The announcement of those assignments will take place on Thurs., May 23, at 10:00 a.m. The service can be viewed live online at wls.wels.net.

Our gracious God has provided candidates to serve in the public ministry, and he has moved them to say, “Here am I; send me!” We thank God for these gifts to his church and pray for his blessings on their service.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

 

Home Missions approves new projects

The Executive Committee of WELS Board for Home Missions met on May 9 and authorized financial support for one new mission congregation and one ministry enhancement.

“Even though there was limited funding this spring, we are excited about the new mission start in Houston, Texas,” says Rev. Wayne Uhlhorn, chairman of WELS Board for Home Missions. “The work the core group has already done and the demographics have us feeling this is the right place and the right time.”

A dedicated group of core members from other WELS churches in the area has been meeting monthly for Bible study since 2015. Rev. Keith Free, administrator of WELS Home Missions, credits these monthly meetings as a strength of this mission.

“They have put in the time so that now as friends in Christ they are ‘all in’ to start a mission,” says Free.

The new mission will be located in an urban neighborhood that is seeing a resurgence in popularity as people strive to be closer to the city center. Sixty-five percent of those living in the target area are not involved in a religious congregation or community.

Home Missions is also supporting a ministry enhancement to the campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. For more than 35 years, Martin Luther, Oshkosh, Wis., and other local congregations have supported a campus ministry at this university alongside WELS Campus Ministry. Known as Rising Son Ministry Center, this campus ministry has a house just a couple blocks off campus that is used for fellowship, Bible study, and worship. Currently, though, activities are only taking place one night per week because there isn’t a dedicated staff member to oversee the ministry.

The financial support from Home Missions will allow Martin Luther to call a pastor whose job will be to serve half-time at Martin Luther and half-time at Rising Son Ministry Center.

Rev. Nathan Ericson, who currently serves at Martin Luther and works with Rising Son Ministry Center, notes, “A city of Oshkosh study has shown how the UW–Oshkosh campus neighborhood has gone from being 50 percent renter-occupied to more than 90 percent renter-occupied in the years 2000 through 2016 and will approach 100 percent in coming years. Most of the 15,000 residents of this area are juniors, seniors, or recent graduates. There are essentially no churches in this area except Rising Son Ministry Center. With increased staffing we can attempt to reach this field that is ripe for harvest.”

WELS Board for Home Missions also approved two other new starts whose financial support is coming from outside the budget of WELS Home Missions for the next two fiscal years. These unsubsidized missions are opening in Folsom, Calif., and Wesley Chapel, Fla. The board also changed the status of the mission in Killeen, Texas, from “subsidized” to “unsubsidized” since it is now receiving financial support outside Home Missions’ budget. Home Missions provides assistance to unsubsidized mission congregations through its district missions boards, mission counselors, and synodical support staff.

To learn more about WELS Home Missions, visit wels.net/homemissions.

 

 

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Serving the military personnel of WELS

Through WELS Military Services, numerous resources are available to support the faith of those who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces. This committee operates through a national civilian chaplain and liaison to the military, a full-time civilian chaplain in Europe, and many WELS pastors who serve those stationed stateside.

Two recent events represent how WELS aims to meet the spiritual needs of both active and retired members of the military.

April 30­–May 2, the WELS Military Services Committee held its annual Military Contact Pastors Retreat at Risen Savior, Chula Vista, Calif., near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

When a WELS congregation is located near a military installation like Camp Pendleton, the pastor serving that congregation may be asked to serve as a military contact pastor. Currently more than 100 WELS pastors are serving WELS military personnel in this capacity.

This year, 22 WELS military contact pastors, five Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) pastors, six WELS Military Services Committee members, and three special speakers were in attendance at the Military Contact Pastors Retreat under the theme “Serving Those Who Serve Our Country.” The retreat’s presentations provided the attendees with insights into the unique challenges of the military lifestyle during and after deployment. Attendees were also able to visit Camp Pendleton. There, they spoke to the camp’s chaplain who explained how WELS pastors and certified lay leaders can serve certain spiritual needs of WELS military personnel.

Then, May 3–5, the Lutheran Military Support Group hosted its second annual Veteran Spiritual R&R at Camp Phillip, Wautoma, Wis. The retreat was open to all WELS and ELS veterans who live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Attendees gathered from across the United States. Over the three days, they encouraged one another through their shared experiences in military service and shared faith in Jesus Christ. They bonded through team activities and topical workshops.

“I am so amazed at how people who have never known each other can connect so quickly and offer such meaningful support to each other,” says Rev. Jason Hacker, Grace, Waukesha, Wis. “What a blessing it was to witness it!” Hacker is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Lutheran Military Support Group and a WELS civilian chaplain.

Rev. Paul Horn, chairman of the WELS Military Services Committee, notes that the key to serving more WELS members in the military is through referrals from their loved ones.

“The best thing civilian laypeople can do to help is to refer their troops, whether they are family members or friends,” Horn explains. “They should go to wels.net/refer to enter military members’ information so we can serve them with Word and Sacraments.”

To learn more about WELS Military Services, visit wels.net/military.

For more information about the Lutheran Military Support Group, visit lutheranmilitary.org.

 

 

Moving forward with the Vietnam opportunity

WELS members have responded overwhelmingly to the opportunity that God has given our synod in Vietnam. Gifts have been received from hundreds of congregations and individuals, totaling half of what is needed to support the building project and ministry training costs for a two-year period.

The Hmong Fellowship Church in Vietnam (HFC), a church body with approximately 100,000 members, has asked WELS to provide theological training for its pastors. Their leaders and several dozen pastors have been receiving instruction from WELS pastors for about three years. They have concluded that we are teaching biblical truth and have embraced the teachings of the Lutheran church. They want to be a Lutheran church body. With the permission—and even encouragement—of the Vietnamese government, the HFC has invited WELS to establish a theological training school where eventually all their pastors will receive thorough instruction and pastoral training.

Due to the generous outpouring of support, the first concrete step in making this plan a reality was taken two weeks ago. I, along with Board for World Missions Administrator Rev. Larry Schlomer and Director of Missions Operations Mr. Sean Young (pictured, center), traveled to Vietnam to sign a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese religious officials and with the leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church. This agreement enables our synod to secure the use of a four-acre parcel of land on the outskirts of Hanoi and to begin construction of the planned theological training school. Details are now being worked out, and we hope that construction will begin in the near future. Gifts received so far have enabled us to secure the land and will make it possible to build the school. We pray that additional gifts will provide the means to operate the school with WELS instructors.

We do not know where this effort will eventually lead. What we do know is that we have been given an amazing opportunity that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. As we begin down this road, we do so realizing the risks, but also with our eyes of faith focused on the grace and promises of God and the opportunity he is giving us to proclaim the saving gospel in a place where it has been rarely heard. To God be the glory!

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

To learn more about this special opportunity in Vietnam, visit wels.net/vietnamhmongoutreach.

 

 

2019 Book of Reports and Memorials available online

The 2019 Book of Reports and Memorials is now available online. This book summarizes the activities of each WELS area of ministry over the last year and contains the proposed ministry financial plan for the next biennium. The information in the Book of Reports and Memorials will help guide the 400 delegates at WELS’ 65th biennial convention, which is being held at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., July 29–Aug. 1, under the theme “For the Generations to Come.”

“This theme emphasizes the privilege and responsibility that we have to hold on to God’s saving truth for ourselves and to pass it down to those who will come after us,” says WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder. “Convention worship, essays, and decisions will focus on that theme and highlight the challenges and privileges we will have as we carry out the mission that God has given to us.”

Schroeder also notes that major items for consideration at the 2019 convention include the proposed ministry financial plan (budget) for 2019–21, the recognition of full fellowship with two Lutheran church bodies, and the plans for a concerted effort to assist congregations to remain spiritually healthy.

Twenty memorials are also included in the Book of Reports and Memorials. A memorial is a formal request to the synod convention for specific action.

One printed copy of the Book of Reports and Memorials is being mailed to each delegate, congregation, and male called worker. These printed copies should arrive before the end of May.

To view the online version of the Book of Reports and Memorials, visit wels.net/2019synodconvention and look under “Key convention documents.”

 

 

Taste and learn how the Word is spread

WELS Missions will be hosting its first ever “Taste of Missions” event, July 13, 2019, 12-5 p.m., at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. WELS families are invited to attend this new opportunity to fellowship with WELS missionaries and families, sample ethnic cuisine from WELS mission fields, and learn more about WELS home, world, and joint mission work.

This family-friendly event will include meet-and-greet opportunities with missionaries, presentations from home and world missions, informative displays about WELS mission fields, a question-and-answer panel discussion, and more activities for the whole family. The day will conclude with a worship service celebrating the blessings of WELS mission work at 4 p.m.

Director of Missions Operations Mr. Sean Young says, “We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity for our members. This is the second year that missionaries and their families have had a reunion, and this year, we wanted to invite our entire family in Christ for an opportunity to learn more about the exciting mission opportunities they’re supporting.”

Several home and world missionaries and mission representatives are lined up to participate in the event, including Rev. Larry Schlomer, World Missions administrator; Rev. Timothy Flunker, Home Mission counselor; Rev. Luis Acosta, cross-cultural home mission pastor; Rev. Paul Nitz, missionary to Malawi; Rev. Rob Siirila, Asia Lutheran Seminary professor; Rev. Mike Duncan, friendly counselor to South Asia; Rev. Nathan Schulte, Latin America missionary; Rev. Nathan Seiltz, Multi-Language Publications director; and more.

Registration is now open. The cost is $5 per person; children under five are free. Learn more, view a full itinerary, and register online at wels.net/tasteofmissions2019.

 

 

 

Pastors mark ministry milestones at retreat

Another successful year of retreats is complete. From April 24–26, Grow in Grace, the institute for pastoral growth at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., hosted more than 200 people for the eighth annual Celebration of Ministry retreats.

Held at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, four retreats ran simultaneously for pastors and their wives who were celebrating 3, 10, 25, and, new to this year, 35 years since graduating from the seminary.

These retreats build relationships with ministry peers and offer encouragement through worship, Bible studies, workshops, and presentations. Bible study topics covered Lessons at the Burning Bush, Philippians, 1 Peter, and Colossians. Separate and joint workshops were offered for pastors and wives and covered topics such as time management, caring for others and yourself, focusing on your own gifts, and financial challenges and opportunities.

Though these workshops and Bible studies are a key part of the retreats, fellowship with classmates, worship services, and a beautiful location also play a part in the experience.

Attendee Rev. Galen Riediger, who’s marking 25 years since graduating, shares, “The best parts were getting to spend time away, relax, getting to spend time in the Word, talk back and forth between husband and wife, and just think about things that busyness keeps you from thinking about.” Riediger’s wife, Susan, follows up with, “I like getting to spend time in the Word with my husband; he’s busy! We don’t get to do that together as much as we’d like. It’s been a blessing to take a step back and do that together.”

When Grow in Grace initially began the Celebration of Ministry retreats, only pastors and wives celebrating 10 years from graduation were in attendance. In more recent years, the event has extended invitations to pastors and wives celebrating 3 years, 25 years and 35 years since graduation. With continued success, Grow is Grace is excited to extend the invitation to pastors and wives who are celebrating one of these key ministry milestones next year. The 2020 retreats are set to take place in San Antonio from April 15–17, 2020.

 

 

 

Easter message from President Schroeder

 

 

Conference of Presidents spring 2019 meeting

At its spring meeting, the Conference of Presidents (COP) asked Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary President-elect Rev. Earle Treptow to serve as an advisory member of the COP Doctrine Committee. This will provide the opportunity for the seminary faculty to give input and counsel on doctrinal matters. It will also help to ensure continued good communication between the COP and the seminary.

The COP has made a change to the calling window for teachers. The calling window is the time during which teachers may receive calls. Currently that window is from Nov. 1 through the first Sunday in June. The new window, to be implemented for a two-year trial, will be from Oct. 15 through April 15. This will make it easier for schools to make plans when they experience vacancies. It will also make it easier for congregations to request candidates from the Assignment Committee. The change will be implemented in the fall of 2019.

The COP learned from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary that next year’s entering class promises to be much larger than classes in recent years. Current class sizes at the seminary are in the mid-30s. Next year’s incoming class could be as large as 50. If classes continue to be that large, we could anticipate an easing of the pastoral vacancy situation four years from now.

In recent years, regular meetings have been held between the Commission on Inter-Church Relations (CICR) and the Doctrine Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). Beginning next fall, the COP Doctrine Committee will take the place of the CICR in those regular meetings. The reason for this is that the COP Doctrine Committee is a closer counterpart to the ELS Doctrine Committee.

In May, the COP will meet at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., to assign pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and vicars.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

 

Welcome home!

There are approximately 155,000 WELS individuals who come to church only one or two times per year. Some have not set foot in church in years. They are drifting toward becoming what we call a “back-door loss,” members who slip away from churches.

WELS Congregational Services is planning the Welcome Home initiative for this fall. Congregational Services will provide congregations with resources, training, and encouragement to try to regain those people. We want to welcome them back to their church home.

Congregational Services Coordinator Rev. Jonathan Hein describes the effort:

“Congregations are encouraged to pick a date—October 20 or October 27—as Welcome Home Sunday. This Sunday is ‘pitched’ to all members as an ‘everyone in attendance’ type Sunday. ‘We want a service where 100 percent of our members are there! Let’s pack the place.’ That way it does not seem to someone who has been absent that they are being singled out. ‘It’s great to have Joe back! He hasn’t been in church in 14 months!’ This is simply a day for everyone to attend.

“Worship that Sunday will focus on the blessings . . . the need . . . for the Christian family. Christians simply are not wired to exist as rugged individuals. We need one another.

“Resources will suggest ways to make that Sunday special: a fellowship meal, fall festival, activities for kids, etc. The goal is to get 100 percent of your members there, including those who rarely come to church, maybe who have not been in church in years.”

Many features of this initiative will help congregations to plan and carry it out, including online elder training and resources that help congregations track member attendance. There are also plans for a November sermon series in the weeks that follow Welcome Home Sunday. The prayer is that we not only get returning members to come back for Welcome Home Sunday, but through continuing efforts, we retain them in the fold.

You can find additional information about the Welcome Home initiative as well as the “10 for 10” stewardship program also planned for the fall at welscongregationalservices.net. Resources will be available at that site in June.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

WELS CEF offering limited-time special rates

Increasing requests for loans from WELS Home Mission churches and mission-minded congregations is prompting WELS Church Extension Fund (WELS CEF) to offer special rates for new investors. WELS CEF makes loans below or at market rates for WELS churches that are either new and building for the first time or established congregations with a new mission-focused initiative.

WELS CEF funds these loans through WELS congregations’ and members’ investments in WELS CEF products. With the need for funds increasing, WELS CEF, through this special offer, is seeking to raise approximately $12 million in investments. “If you are not an investor in WELS CEF, this is a great opportunity to support ministry. If you are already an investor, this is a great opportunity to increase your support of ministry by increasing your investments,” says Mr. Scott Page, director of WELS CEF.

For a limited time, WELS CEF is offering a four percent interest rate on a minimum investment of $5,000 in either a 56-month-term loan certificate or a 60-month-term IRA certificate. WELS CEF’s investment certificates pay and compound interest quarterly. The four percent interest rate applies only to new money investments.

“We’re offering a great interest rate for new investments,” says Page. “Congregations are eager to grow, and now’s the time to fund that need.”

Investing in WELS CEF is not only a smart way to manage personal finances, but it also supports the mission of the church. Rev. Keith Free, administrator for WELS Home Missions, says, “The continued investments of more WELS members and congregation gives WELS CEF additional funds to support missions and mission-minded congregations.”

View rates online at wels.net/cef. New IRA investors should contact WELS CEF at 866-511-7793 for investment materials. Investors can also manage their accounts and investments online.

 

Mission Journeys offers support and inspiration

In February 2019, Ascension, Escondido, Calif., welcomed a group of 11 volunteers from Resurrection and Life, Rochester, Minn. Together, they went door-to-door in the neighborhoods of Escondido and San Marcos as an outreach effort for Ascension. This collaboration was made possible through WELS Mission Journeys, the official synod program for short-term mission trips.

Rev. Jeffrey Duquaine, Ascension’s pastor, calls it “a wonderful event of God’s providence.”

As a small congregation near San Diego, Calif., Ascension was struggling. Its previous pastor had resigned, and its school had closed. Due to the dwindling number of active members, the congregation had considered shutting the church’s doors completely.

Upon beginning his ministry at Ascension in January 2018, Duquaine knew he and the congregation needed to plant the seed of God’s Word in the surrounding communities. Duquaine looked for support from Praise and Proclaim Ministries, a WELS parasynodical ministry that trains Christians in sharing their faith confidently and effectively.

Through Praise and Proclaim, Duquaine and the congregation learned about Mission Journeys. Mission Journeys connected Ascension with the volunteers from Resurrection and Life, and the groups joined together in Escondido for a weekend of canvassing.

“The timing worked out for the team from Rochester to join us for our event,” Duquaine explains. “It didn’t take long at all for us to make a connection as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

After training together, the Ascension and Resurrection and Life groups visited nearly 1,000 homes, encouraging people to attend a Neighborhood Safety Night at Ascension. They took every opportunity they could to share the gospel.

Duquaine was overjoyed to see his members find strength and encouragement as they spoke to others about their Savior.

“Presenting the gospel to people while we trained and while we canvassed gave the Holy Spirit plenty of opportunity to work,” Duquaine says. “The fruit of faith growth that I felt was observable was the confidence people showed in sharing their faith with strangers. There were people who were incredibly nervous and afraid to participate, and it was amazing to see them succeed.”

Ascension saw several people members met during their canvassing efforts attend the Neighborhood Safety Night. Duquaine continues to see results in unexpected ways. “Since that weekend of canvassing, I have had three more people in contact about various aspects of our ministry,” he explains. “It seems like when we trust God and go to work reaching out, he brings people in through the side door was well.”

Outreach efforts have just begun for Ascension. “It wasn’t a one-and-done event, but it was a time for us to pivot toward becoming a true mission group who keeps inviting people to learn about Jesus,” Duquaine explains. “That has been our view for the future.”

Ascension is currently planning more events, special mailings, and digital tactics. Mission Journeys helped the congregation take that first step.

Duquaine urges other congregations seeking support for their outreach efforts to consider partnering with Mission Journeys. “Do it! Definitely! It is great for the Mission Journeys group and the host congregation,” he says. “Even if you are afraid or tentative to actually go to a place and canvass, take the leap and trust that the Holy Spirit will provide you with the confidence and strength—he will give you what you need!”

Mission Journeys has 14 trips planned for the next four months. The ministry aims to facilitate 60 trips during its second year of operation beginning on July 1. To learn more about Mission Journeys—including how you and your church can get involved—visit wels.net/missionjourneys.

Watch the March WELS Connection for more on WELS Mission Journeys.

 

Huebner added to line-up for WELS Night

WELS First Vice President Rev. James Huebner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers’ game against the San Francisco Giants on Fri., July 12, 2019. Game time is 7:10 p.m. “What a thrill to throw out the first pitch, and all the more because those of us who are big Brewers fans are so excited for this season,” says Huebner, pastor at Grace, Milwaukee.

The popular WELS Night T-shirts are available to order for $6, and for the first time, in both youth and adult sizes. Imagine thousands of WELS members wearing the brightly colored T-shirt, creating a sea of blue at the sixth annual WELS Night at Miller Park.

The Brewers are again offering WELS members up to 50 percent off the price of tickets. Seating will be along the third base line this year and in a block for WELS members. The pricing is Field Outfield Box sections 128–131 for $21/ticket, Loge Outfield Box sections 229–232 for $17/ticket, or Terrace Reserved sections 436–437 for $9/ticket. The ticket service fee will be waived for groups of 20-plus if you contact Greg Souza at 414-902-4492 or greg.souza@brewers.com.

Tickets can be purchased at brewers.com/wels. T-shirts can be ordered at welsnight2019.orderpromos.com.

 

A personal approach to sharing faith

In November 2018, Northwestern Publishing House released the book Quick to Listen: Understanding Viewpoints that Challenge Your Faith. This new title prepares readers to share their faith with Christian compassion as they encounter evolutionists, atheists, Bible skeptics, and members of the LGBTQ community in their daily lives.

Through the book’s written accounts and exclusive interviews, individuals from these four groups share their stories to explain why they hold their particular beliefs. The readers and pastor-authors then consult Scripture as they reflect on these challenging experiences and perspectives. Together, they look to God for the guidance and understanding they need to share the message of salvation with these groups.

Rev. Christopher Doerr, Garden Homes, Milwaukee, Wis., is one of the authors of Quick to Listen. He is joined by Rev. Samuel Degner, professor of evangelism and New Testament at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.; Rev. Nick Schmoller, professor of theology and foreign language at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.; and Rev. Luke Thompson, pastor at St. Paul, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

When writing this book, Doerr often thought back to his time as a student at a secular college. There he learned that opening up about his faith with those who identify as members of the groups featured in this book was much more than a one-sided conversation.

“‘Friendship evangelism’ is knowing how to listen and ask questions, not just responding with what’s in your heart,” Doerr says. “We need to be in touch with people’s doubts and concerns regarding Christianity.”

With this in mind, Doerr and the other authors aim to make Quick to Listen a tool to help readers show Christlike care for the people who challenge Christianity. The readers’ efforts to share the good news of Christ can then be seen as what they truly are: expressions of that care and not simply counterarguments.

Rev. Mark Paustian, professor of English and Hebrew at MLC, wrote the foreword to Quick to Listen. He uses the text to teach apologetics classes—courses that focus on defending Christianity against differing beliefs.

“I’m deeply concerned for the faith of my students, and I need to be confident that the study we’re taking up together is truly edifying to their souls,” Paustian says. “I’m convinced Quick to Listen has been. I can say our discussions are exciting, even profound. I think there are countless Christians out there who hunger for such an experience.”

Paustian appreciates that Quick to Listen approaches apologetics through studies of real people. He believes this practical and human element is critical to sharing the gospel effectively.

“These accounts and interviews impress upon readers the need to understand people, not just worldly issues and arguments,” he explains. “The key is first to invest enough time trying to understand what’s really going on with the particular person God has put in front of us in a given moment. Quick to Listen makes that simple idea come alive.”

You can learn more about Quick to Listen, read a sample, and purchase the book online at nph.net.

 

Recommendations for church fellowship

One of the highlights of this summer’s 65th Biennial Synod Convention will be the formal declaration and recognition of fellowship with two confessional Lutheran church bodies. The 2019 synod convention will be held July 29 – Aug. 1, 2019, at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.

The Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ – Kenya (LCMC – Kenya) was formed when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya began to tolerate false teachings. A group of Kenyan pastors broke away and began searching for a confessional Lutheran church body. In 2015, Rev. Mark Onunda of the LCMC – Kenya met at length with the Doctrinal Committee of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa – Zambia Synod (LCCA – Zambia), a former WELS mission and now our sister synod. The LCCA – Zambia synod declared formal fellowship with the LCMC – Kenya last September. The WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations will be recommending to the synod convention that WELS also formally declare fellowship with the LCMC – Kenya.

The Christian Lutheran Evangelical Church in Taiwan began as a WELS mission and is now an independent Lutheran Church body that has always been in fellowship with WELS. Because this church is now independent, the Commission on Inter-Church Relations is recommending that the synod in convention formally recognize our fellowship with the Christian Lutheran Evangelical Church in Taiwan.

Representatives from each church body will address the convention and make presentations that will familiarize the delegates with these church bodies that will be recognized formally as a part of our fellowship.

We thank God for continuing to enlarge our fellowship with Lutheran Christians around the world.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

Learn more about the 2019 synod convention.

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New task force focuses on special education

A new 20-member Special Education Task Force has been formed to provide special education resources and support to teachers and students.

“Our goal is to lay out a common, reliable, and researched path for identifying and supporting learners who struggle in academics and behavior,” says Ms. Kelli Green, a special education professor at Martin Luther College (MLC). “How do we support these children as well as provide school leaders and teachers with the support systems they need to offer this assistance?”

The task force will be researching the special education services already happening in WELS schools as well as the needs. It will also be exploring how to educate current students as well as administrators and teachers already in WELS schools about the resources available to help those with special needs, including ways to collaborate with one another and with public schools.

“We’re looking at how we can provide more support to our schools so more kids can hear the gospel at our schools on a daily basis,” says Mr. James Rademan, director of the Commission on Lutheran Schools.

The group includes representatives from the Commission on Lutheran Schools, MLC, Wisconsin Lutheran College, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Bethany Lutheran College, Jesus Cares Ministries, and Christian Educators for Special Education, along with special education teachers from WELS area Lutheran high schools and Lutheran elementary schools.

Currently MLC offers two special education programs. Undergraduates can receive an Academic and Behavioral Specialist (ABS) Minnesota state teaching licensure, and graduates can return to pursue a master of science in education with a special education emphasis. Seventeen students are in the undergraduate program, and 12 are in the master’s program. MLC is working on adding a master of special education in learning disabilities.

Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., offers special education undergraduate and master’s degree majors resulting in cross-categorical special education licensure. Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minn., also offers an ABS undergraduate major as well as a post-baccalaureate program for ABS licensure.

For more information about the task force, contact James Rademan, director of WELS Lutheran Schools, at jim.rademan@wels.net.

2019 WELS Night tickets now available

Tickets are now on sale for the sixth annual WELS Night at Miller Park. Plan to join thousands of WELS members for the Milwaukee Brewers’ game against the San Francisco Giants on Fri., July 12, 2019.  Game time is 7:10 p.m.

The Brewers are offering WELS members up to 50 percent off the price of tickets. The pricing is Field Outfield Box, Sections 128-131 for $21/ticket, Loge Outfield Box, Sections 229-232 for $17/ticket, or Terrace Reserved, Sections 436-437 for $9/ticket. All seats are on the third base side. Discounted tickets are now available to purchase online at brewers.com/wels.

Last year more than 2,400 WELS witnessed a dramatic walk-off home run as the Brewers defeated the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth inning. The epic three-run blast topped off a wonderful evening of fun and fellowship for the fifth annual WELS night at Miller Park. “Since several seating sections were filled with members wearing the royal blue WELS Night at Miller Park t-shirts, we have decided to offer the same shirt again this year in youth and adult sizes,” says Lee Hitter, WELS Director of Communications.

Shirt orders will be available soon. Visit wels.net/brewers2019 to learn more.

Synodical Council adopts ministry financial plan for 2019–2021

At its meeting on Feb. 22–23, the Synodical Council approved the ministry financial plan (budget) for 2019–2021 that will be recommended to the synod convention in July.

In the first year of the biennium (2019–2020), the plan calls for a small increase in the synodical support portion and in the overall spending levels (which include support from special funds, gifts, tuition, and fees). In the second year of the biennium (2020–2021), there is a small increase in synodical support and a small decrease in the overall spending levels.

Fiscal year2018–20192019–20202020–2021
Synod support29,308,100 29,417,00030,137,300
Gifts, tuition, fees44,976,02045,744,66144,964,914
Total74,284,12075,161,66175,102,214

The Synodical Council will continue to monitor the financial situation; changes could be made prior to the convention if circumstances require.

The Synodical Council approved several adjustments to spending for the current year, with all approved projects funded without additional synodical support.

As a part of the ministry financial plan, the synod convention also approves the “Unfunded Priority List.” These are programs that are not funded by the recommended ministry financial plan but would be implemented if additional funds become available. The Synodical Council will be recommending the following list of priorities:

  1. World Missions— mission support/expansion: $125,000
  2. Home Missions—mission expansion: $125,000
  3. Ministerial Education—financial assistance at MLC: $125,000
  4. Congregational Services—congregational counselor program: $150,000
  5. World Missions—mission support/expansion: $100,000
  6. Home Missions—mission support/expansion: $100,000
  7. Ministerial Education—top capital projects priorities: $150,000
  8. Special Ministries—WELS Military Services Committee: $50,000
  9. Special Ministries—WELS Prison Ministry Committee: $50,000
  10. Ministry of Christian Giving—additional giving counselor: $120,000

While 2019 Congregation Mission Offering (CMO) subscriptions pointed toward a one percent decrease from 2018 actual offerings, CMO results through the end of February are very encouraging. February’s CMO totals were 6.8% higher than a year ago, and year-to-date totals are 6.6% higher than the previous year at this time. We thank God for his blessings and for the gifts of his people.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

A new voice for WELS Daily Devotions

Starting March 3, the audio version of the WELS Daily Devotions features a new voice: Zach Steinke. Steinke is a senior at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., with prior experience in the radio communications industry.

“We are thrilled to have Zach as our new narrator for the WELS Daily Devotions,” says Rev. Eric Roecker, director of the WELS Commission on Evangelism. “His experience and expertise will be a blessing to the thousands of souls who listen each day.”

Narrating the Daily Devotions was an unexpected opportunity for Steinke. Rev. Donn Dobberstein, director of the WELS Commission on Discipleship, was teaching one of Steinke’s classes recently and mentioned that they were seeking a new narrator for the Daily Devotions. Dobberstein asked the students to take turns reading portions of some devotional material, and Steinke’s abilities captured Dobberstein’s attention.

“When it was my turn, I read my paragraph,” Steinke recalls. “Then Pastor Dobberstein asked me to read the next one . . . and the next one.”

Afterward, Steinke shared his voice demos with Dobberstein and other WELS staff, eventually meeting with them to discuss the opportunity. He was quickly brought on board.

“I was not planning to audition myself as a candidate, and Pastor Dobberstein was not necessarily looking for a ‘voice’ from the classroom that day,” Steinke explains. “However, the Lord brought this all together, so to him be the glory.”

Steinke replaces Rev. Mike Hintz, retired director for the WELS Commission on Evangelism. Coincidentally, Hintz was once his pastor. Steinke sees this connection as another example of God’s hand in shaping this opportunity.

“It just shows you that this is something only the Lord can plan and work out,” Steinke says. “I am surprised and honored to be succeeding Pastor Hintz.”

In 2018, the Daily Devotions had nearly 11,000 subscribers in more than 15 different countries. Thousands of listeners tune in each day.

“The Lord has already blessed this ministry exponentially,” Steinke notes. “I pray that I’ll be a good steward of this ministry and that God continues to make it fruitful through me and the many writers of the Daily Devotions.”

Steinke expresses gratitude for being able to share the gospel in this unique way. For listeners of the Daily Devotions, he shares this message: “As you incorporate these devotions into your day, may the Holy Spirit strengthen your faith as God speaks his gospel comfort to your heart. I’d also like to challenge you to think of people in your life who need to know such comfort. Share these devotions with them so they can know Jesus, their Savior, and how precious they are in his sight.”

To read, listen to, and subscribe to WELS Daily Devotions, visit wels.net/daily-devotions. Listen to Steinke read today’s devotion.

First WELS EdTechLead conference to be held

The 2019 WELS Education, Technology, and Leadership Summit (WELS EdTechLead) will be held June 25–27 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

This new event combines the National School Leadership and the WELSTech conferences into one expanded convention. It offers information and fellowship to those interested in exploring ministry tools, techniques, and best practices in the areas of education, technology, and leadership.

Created to be more sensitive to the time and funds of those who may have been interested in attending both conferences, WELS EdTechLead also aims to draw a broader audience than either conference might be able to alone.

“I think the conference really is for almost anybody in ministry,” said Mr. Martin Spriggs, WELS chief technology officer. “It’s an opportunity to help everyone put a bit more brainpower and a bit more passion into their efforts. It just makes sense to share that knowledge and energy and come up with better ministry plans and strategies together.”

The speakers and sessions offered at WELS EdTechLead are not simply related to one of the three topics of education, technology, and leadership. Many demonstrate the intersections between the topics. For example, teachers will be able to learn about instructional technology at the conference, and school principals and early childhood directors will have opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

The schedule is organized to allow attendees to experience a variety of workshops from each of the three fields. Half-day and full-day preconference sessions are also available to allow visitors to dive deeply into a specific subject.

“It’s to strengthen the network of support we have with one another in ministry,” said Mr. Jim Rademan, director of the Commission on Lutheran Schools. “You are going to learn some tips and some tools, but, in many ways, this conference is to inspire you to move forward in your ministry.”

Registration for WELS EdTechLead is now open, with early bird discounts through May 1. Visit welsedtechlead.com to learn more and register.

CMO totals for 2018 and CMO subscriptions for 2019

Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) received in 2018 totaled $21,111,878. We are grateful for this generous support our synod’s mission and ministry. The total, however, was $246,000 (1.2%) below the offerings received in 2017 and $148,000 (0.7%) less than what congregations had indicated in their CMO subscriptions for the year. More than a decade of flat, and now even decreasing, CMO has made it increasingly challenging to maintain our current level of ministry, not to mention to seize some of the many gospel opportunities that God is graciously placing before us.

Adding to that challenge is the fact that subscriptions for 2019 are $20,913,700, nearly 1% less than 2018 receipts. Since our planning forecasted that subscriptions would be met in 2018 and that subscriptions for 2019 would increase by 0.5%, the task to maintain and expand ministry has become even more difficult. The results for 2018 and subscriptions for 2019 are $350,000 less than the forecast and compound to reductions from what was used for planning the next biennium of $454,000 and $456,000 for Fiscal Year 20 and Fiscal Year 21, respectively.

One bit of good news is that offerings for January 2019 were 6.4% higher than the January offerings in 2018.

At its meeting later this week, the Synodical Council will be looking to adopt a Ministry Financial Plan that recognizes these financial realities. All areas of ministry have been asked to look for ways to economize and to plan for less spending than what had been anticipated. Once a plan for the next two years is adopted by the Synodical Council, it will be forwarded to the synod convention this summer for approval.

As the economy improves, we pray that God will enable congregations to meet—and even exceed—their CMO subscriptions in 2019.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

Church dedication in Puerto Rico

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria swept over the island of Puerto Rico causing great devastation and destruction.

WELS members responded generously with gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief. But the devastation caused by the storm made communication with fellow Christians in Puerto Rico difficult. It was hard to know what needed to be done to help and how that help could be delivered.

Early last summer WELS Christian Aid and Relief sent retired missionary Rev. Larry Schlomer Sr. to the island. He was asked to stay for up to a year to help the church leaders determine what needed to be done and then to help organize relief and rebuilding efforts.

God has graciously taken care of the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Puerto Rico and restored their church in Humacao. On Feb. 10, 2019, this church celebrated the completion of the rebuilt church with a dedication service. Many of the national pastors were in attendance along with Rev. Larry Schlomer Sr., WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder, and Rev. Tim Satorius.

View a slideshow of the dedication service.

WELS CAR - Puerto Rico Church Rededication

Women’s ministry conference highlights being “living stones”

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

The focal point of the upcoming 2019 WELS Women’s Ministry Conference, being held at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., July 18–20, is “living stones” and how Christian women are called to be a part of something bigger.

Mrs. Dawn Schulz, conference coordinator, says the committee chose 1 Peter as the conference’s inspiration because it’s a great encouragement to women. “A ‘living stone’ is a woman who uses her God-given talents and gifts to build up God’s kingdom and to bless those around her, wherever that may be,” Schulz says. “Just like Jesus, we are special to God. We are chosen for a reason.”

A range of speakers will discuss the topic of living stones in keynote addresses and breakout sessions. One of the main points of the conference is how Christians fit together, like stones on a building. Each stone possesses unique qualities to serve God’s kingdom. To emphasize this point, the speakers have a range of backgrounds, including a lawyer, a pastor, and a ministry coordinator.

“We wanted to provide opportunities for a wide scope of presentations,” Schulz says. “The speakers who were chosen are people who have been speaking and researching God’s Word and will bring light to the fact that God uses every single person in his kingdom.”

The conference also will dive into how Christian women should look at the individuality of each person to more effectively share the gospel. For example, a young adult ministry professional as well as a panel of college students will emphasize how to reach younger generations today.

At the end of the conference, Schulz hopes women walk away feeling more confident in their purpose as a part of God’s spiritual house. She says, “This conference is going to nurture women in God’s Word, encourage them by bringing them together with other Christian sisters, and equip them with resources.”

For more information on the Women’s Ministry Conference and to register, visit wels.net/wmconference.

Mission and Ministry held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

From Feb. 5–7, students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., participated in Mission & Ministry, an annual three-day event organized by the students.

Under the theme “Work for the Harvest,” this event highlighted the worldwide work of WELS.

Each day featured a worship service, keynote address, and an update from WELS administration. In addition, to give these future pastors a cross-section of experiences they may face in ministry, 24 breakout sessions were offered in specific topics. These sessions included discussions on personal evangelism; cultivating a caring congregation; urban ministry; planting churches in rural areas; 125 years of ministry to the Apaches; and mission opportunities in Africa, Latin America, and Vietnam.

Also, to highlight synodical resources that are available to congregations, WELS organizations set up displays to share information about their work in God’s kingdom.

“Mission and Ministry refocuses us. It takes us away from our daily routine and reminds us why we study every day. The stories presenters share give us a glimpse of what it will be like to work together with them in God’s harvest field,” says senior Andrew Nemmers, one of the event organizers. “Especially in the middle of a long winter, it’s always helpful to have that reminder that there is a light at the end of the long tunnel of training for pastoral ministry.”

For photos of the event, visit the seminary’s Facebook page.

Big steps for the WELS Hymnal Project in 2019

The development of the new WELS hymnal and its supplementary products is making significant progress this year in anticipation of the final release scheduled for Advent 2021. A preview of the new hymnal will be available in 2020.

“It’s really wrapping up,” said Hymnal Project Director Rev. Michael Schultz. “Almost every aspect of the main content is going to be finished at the end of the calendar year.”

The Executive Committee of the Hymnal Project reviews and finalizes all content. Several specialized subcommittees lead the design of certain elements or worship resources that serve the specific needs of churchgoers, musicians, and pastors.

For example, the Hymnody Committee evaluates which hymns to include in the new hymnal. Similarly, the Psalmody Committee is completing the text of the Psalter, a resource containing the full text of all 150 psalms with multiple musical settings for each. Other subcommittees focus on rites and Scripture as well as the technology for and communication of the project.

The pew edition of the new hymnal will be designed to make the text and music on the page clear and intuitive for all worshipers. Separate accompaniment editions for liturgy, psalms, psalter, and hymns will provide a robust resource for organists and pianists. Three settings of the main communion service will be included in the hymnal pew edition, each following similar worship structures while varying the musical style. Several additional musical settings are in development and will be made available digitally.

In addition to performance guidelines like tempo markings, the “Accompaniment for the Hymns” edition will include additional musical options for many hymns. A team within the Hymnal Project called the Musicians’ Resource Group is gathering even more arrangements for other instruments not included in the accompaniment edition, such as brass, flute, and guitar.

After four years of development, the updated lectionary for the new hymnal was recently completed. Each Sunday, the three Scripture readings, Prayer of the Day, Psalm of the Day, and Verse of the Day will now fall under one theme. The new Commentary on the Propers will help leaders plan their worship around these integrated service themes.

Each of these elements contributes to the Hymnal Project’s overall mission, which reads, “We begin our task so that worshipers now and long into the future can both hear for themselves and proclaim to God and the people around them the saving work of Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to learn more about the Hymnal Project and stay up to date on its continued progress, visit welshymnal.com and subscribe to the e-mail newsletter.