Seminary hosts Asian conference

From Nov. 12-13, pastors originally from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Korea attended an Asian Conference held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.

These men are the spiritual leaders and drivers of outreach to Asian peoples in North America and also overseas. Participants gathered in their respective ethnic groups to discuss plans for reaching out and expanding their ministry. Rev. Keith Free, WELS Board for Home Missions administrator, and Rev. Paul Prange, the coordinator of global cross-cultural outreach, were available to assist with those plans. Rev. Michael Hintz, director of the Commission on Evangelism, discussed ways participants might involve all the members of the congregation in outreach.

The conference wasn’t only about planning, but also about encouraging each other in the Word. Prof. Steve Geiger led a discussion on teaching adults, sharing that while some application varies from culture to culture, there are concepts, strategies, and methods that apply to everyone.

As everyone went home renewed to serve, Prof. E. Allen Sorum, says, “It is very exciting to see how the people our church body is already serving here in North America are building bridges for the gospel in many parts of our world.”

WELS VEBA open enrollment deadline

Don’t miss out! The deadline for the WELS VEBA health care plan limited open enrollment is Nov. 30. Eligible workers at WELS/Evangelical Lutheran Synod organizations that have at least one worker already using WELS VEBA can enroll.

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

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

To learn more about the benefits of WELS VEBA and the plans it offers, visitwww.welsbpo.net.

New direction for Muslim outreach

The Joint Mission Council (JMC), which comprises representatives from both Home Missions and World Missions who work collaboratively to meet cross-cultural ministry opportunities, has evaluated the Outreach to Muslim program and is preparing to take the ministry in a new direction.

The JMC determined it would be better stewardship of resources to focus assistance in Muslim outreach at the congregational level in areas with Muslim populations around them and to new congregations that may be started in the future in areas with high density Muslim populations. In addition, funding will be directed toward World Mission efforts in countries with Muslim populations.

With this change, the current position of Muslim outreach coordinator, held by Rev. Pieter Reid, will end on June 30, 2015. The Outreach to Muslims Committee will continue to function to assist in efforts, utilizing the expertise of Reid when possible.

Rev. Keith Free, administrator of WELS Home Missions, says, “We’re very thankful to Rev. Pieter Reid for the 22 years of ministry to Muslims in Indonesia as well as in the United States. He and his wife, Marlys, certainly have raised our church body’s awareness about reaching out to Muslims.”

Learn more about WELS cross cultural ministries at www.wels.net/missions.

Missions opportunities in Ethiopia

Prof. E. Allen Sorum, director of the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., and two South Sudanese PSI students, Peter Bur and Simon Duoth, visited Ethiopia Oct. 14 to Nov. 6 to explore new opportunities for mission outreach in Africa on behalf of WELS Missions.

One opportunity involved teaching and encouraging refugees from the Nuer tribe, who fled to Ethiopia because of civil unrest in South Sudan. Five of the local pastors contacted Bur, a South Sudanese refugee who emigrated to the United States and is now a member at Good Shepherd, Omaha, Neb., to ask for spiritual training. “These five pastors all grew up with Peter Bur in various situations. They were together in South Sudan. They were together in refugee camps in various parts of Africa. Peter was always the leader,” says Sorum. “If Peter Bur wanted to share his discovery of WELS with these five men, these men wanted to hear the details.”

At a refugee camp in Gambella, Bur and Sorum explained confessional Lutheran Christianity to these five pastors as well as to 80 others who traveled from neighboring camps. “When these pastors and their members heard the truth about Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, conversion, justification, the universal priesthood, inspiration, they were dropped jawed, over-awed,” says Sorum.

Sorum says that these men were very open when talking about doctrinal differences and wanted to hear what the Bible teaches. “These five pastors possess a humility that was rooted in their own sincere relationship with God and in their desire to serve God’s people well with the power of his true Word,” he says.

Sorum, Bur, and Duoth also met with the local government to discuss humanitarian aid needs, which include a water purification system and mobile health clinics.

According to Sorum, immediate opportunities abound to share hope through Jesus with a hurting population, which could lead to future possibilities for further outreach when these refugees return to the South Sudan. “Hundreds of thousands of people are up to their ears in human misery right now,” says Sorum. “They’re sitting in refugee camps. They can’t work, and they’re anxious to be involved in something meaningful while they’re waiting to get back into their homeland.” He says that he feels many of these opportunities can be met by working with and through Bur and other WELS South Sudanese members in the United States.

While in Ethiopia, Sorum also met with Rev. Dr. Kebede Getachew Yigezu, who contacted WELS in 2013 to discuss fellowship possibilities. Kebede has gathered a group of like-minded Christians in and near his hometown of Bishoftu, and registered the church with the Ethiopian government as the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia (LCE). The church numbers 300 members. “The members of the LCE earnestly seek membership in the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference so they can stand with and be encouraged by fellow Lutherans of the Reformation heritage,” says Sorum.

Sorum spent two weeks discussing doctrine with Kebede and LCE members and sharing seminars on leadership and preaching with students in the LCE’s college and seminary program. He also talked extensively with Kebede on his future plans for his theological program. “He’s trying to provide solid theological resources for the people of his country,” says Sorum. “These are adults who want to enhance their ministry skills. They’re interested in solid biblical teaching, and they’ve learned the LCE gives that.”

According to Sorum, there is potential to connect Kebede’s seminary program with the South Sudanese refugees who are looking for more spiritual training.

Discussion is underway to determine the next steps in working with both the South Sudanese refugees and the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia. “The Board for WELS World Missions has the responsibility of evaluating new world mission opportunities,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of World Missions. “We will be investigating the next best steps so we can move quickly to facilitate this growing partnership with Sudanese and Ethiopian brothers in the United States and Africa.”

View a slideshow from the trip to Ethiopia

Synodical Council holds fall meeting

At its fall meeting the Synodical Council (SC) adopted a first draft of the Ministry Financial Plan (budget). The initial plan calls for no planned increases in spending for each of the next two years. The decision for a “no increase” plan reflected the SC’s decision to take a conservative approach initially. Since this is a first draft, changes to the plan may still be made at the SC’s February meeting when it finalizes its recommendation that will be presented to the synod convention in July. As the SC makes final plans it will take into consideration actual mission offerings in 2014, as well as Congregation Mission Offering subscriptions for 2015.

The SC adopted a policy requiring specific SC approval if areas of ministry or synodical schools plan to spend more than what was approved by the synod convention or if they desire to add staff beyond approved levels.

The SC was briefed on the WELS VEBA health plan, especially as to how the plan may be affected by the Affordable Care Act. WELS VEBA provides uniform coverage for our workers at the same cost regardless of age. Both the SC and the Conference of Presidents desire to keep the plan healthy and viable. Doing so will provide adequate health insurance for our workers, prevent congregations with older workers from paying extremely high premiums for insurance, and will help to ensure that health insurance does not adversely affect our calling system. WELS VEBA began communicating these issues with congregations last month.

The SC took other actions, including:

  • Adopted a building fund policy to ensure that the new WELS Center for Mission and Ministry is properly maintained.
  • Re-appointed Mr. John Tappe and Mr. Kenneth Zehm to the Church Extension Fund (CEF) board.
  • Approved a change in the CEF bylaws allowing the CEF board more flexibility in making grants to the Board for Home Missions.
  • Began to assemble a prioritized list of unfunded priorities to be presented to the synod convention in July.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

200th School of Outreach

On Oct. 4, WELS Commission on Evangelism held its 200th School of Outreach event. The School of Outreach program helps WELS congregations with planning, assistance, and resources for evangelism programming and implementation of outreach strategies.

Originally, the School of Outreach was held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. Then congregations began hosting the program, and nearby congregations would also attend. This “satellite” School of Outreach made it possible for more congregations to participate. The first satellite School of Outreach was held in September 1993 in Modesto, Calif., and eight congregations attended. Since then, the total number of registered congregations has been 1,344. Over the years, many congregations have attended more than once.

“The School of Outreach gave us an opportunity to evaluate our community, to dig into God’s Word, and then to wrestle with how we might continue taking the Word to the community in which we live,” says Rev. Joel Russow, pastor at Faith, Tallahassee, Fla. “It was a blessing to have our members wrestling with these things. We left invigorated by the tremendous message and the ripe opportunities before us.”

Faith attended School of Outreach sessions in September 2013 and February 2014. The current program is broken into two one-day sessions that are separated by several months. District evangelism commission members conduct the sessions and stay in touch with congregations after they attend to provide follow-up assistance specific to the needs of the congregations.

Russow notes, “The School of Outreach presenters have a contagious zeal for reaching out with the gospel of Jesus, and they were a Barnabas to us. It was also mutually edifying to spend a couple Saturdays with the other WELS congregations in our ‘area’— who drove from 2 to 3 hours away—studying God’s Word and discussing outreach. It made us thankful for the partnership that we share in the gospel.”

Throughout the 200 School of Outreach events that have been held, many changes have taken place. Rev. Mike Hintz, director of WELS Commission on Evangelism, notes, “Evangelism directors have come and gone, but one person has been involved with all 200 events. That person is Audrey Bluhm, the administrative assistant for the Commission on Evangelism, who helps coordinate all the details for these events. I’m so thankful for her service.”

For more information about the School of Outreach, visit www.wels.net/evangelism or call 414-256-3287.

Start the year with Interactive Faith

January is two months away and what better way to start a new year than with a new Interactive Faith online Bible study series.

Beginning Wed., Jan. 7, 2015, Rev. David Scharf, Immanuel, Greenville, Wis., will lead a six-week study called “Breaking the Cycle with Grace (a study of the book of Judges).”

Scharf says of the topic, “It has been said that nearly every doctrine of the Bible can be found in the biblical narratives contained in the book of Judges. That fact alone merits a deeper look! And yet, how often have we read, let alone studied this action-packed book of God’s grace? In our lives, we go through cycles of ups and downs—we think God is pleased one moment and that he is not the next. Come and break the cycle of uncertainty with grace as we study a book full of God’s love and patience!”

The study will be streamed live online twice every Wednesday night between Jan. 7 and Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (central).

Thousands of WELS members have participated in the Interactive Faith Bible studies, which are held twice a year and led by a WELS pastor or professor. Many congregations gather as a group for the study; other WELS members connect as couples or individuals. The studies are designed to have 10 to 15 minutes of lecture by the instructor, followed by 5 to 10 minutes for congregations to discuss a question or two or do further study. Participants can interact with the instructor via the chat box.

To learn more or join the study, go to www.wels.net/interactivefaith.

Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum meets

Leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) and WELS met Oct. 20-21 at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis. The biennial meeting provides the sister synods an opportunity to discuss theological topics, share information, and encourage each other through worship.

“The gathering of leaders and representatives of the WELS and ELS is a time to enjoy the blessed fellowship we share. Not only is it encouraging and uplifting to focus on God’s Word together, it is always a boost to learn more about what each synod is doing and to discover means of cooperation and mutual assistance,” says Rev. Michael K. Smith, professor at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato, Minn.

Twelve leaders from each synod attended the forum, where they updated one another on mutual issues in the synods and then participated in small group discussions. Three theological essays were presented and discussed during the plenary session.

“The ELS/WELS Forum is a treasure. We are able to see how genuine Lutheran brothers are handling similar situations, and we gain a profound appreciation for the diverse fruits of the Spirit as he gives them to the church,” says Rev. Paul Prange, administrator for ministerial education and global cross-cultural outreach.

The forum began in 1967 after the Synodical Conference, a fellowship organization between WELS, ELS, and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) dissolved due to doctrinal differences with the LCMS.

“The exchange of information about our respective synods’ programs is so important to our ongoing fellowship. And the opportunity for personal, as well as professional, interaction is always encouraging,” says Rev. Steven Petersen, ELS Board for World Outreach administrator.

Fellowship between these two church bodies means that they work together on joint mission and ministry programs. It also means that pastors of either synod may preach in congregations of the other and that calls into the ministry and membership transfers between the synods can take place. Because the two synods are in fellowship with each other, members from each synod may worship and commune in congregations of either synod.

The next Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum will take place Oct. 17-18, 2016, at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Synodical Council gathers for fall meeting

The Synodical Council (SC) will hold its fall meeting on Friday and Saturday of this week. The major item of business is the initial discussion of the Ministry Financial Plan (budget) for 2015-2017 that will be recommended to the synod convention next July.

Work on the plan began last summer as areas of ministry each developed their plans. The SC had directed the areas of ministry to plan for a “no increase” budget initially. The president’s office, along with the President’s Advisory Council, then adopted an overall plan last month. That plan will be presented to the SC for consideration at this meeting. The plan still will be able to be adjusted in the coming months (depending on funding available from Congregation Mission Offerings and other sources). A final recommendation will be adopted by the SC in February.

There is more good news about Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO). Mission offerings from congregations are continuing at a strong and encouraging pace. October offerings were very strong with an increase of 8.4% over 2013 and $321,000 more than projected for the month of October. Year-to-date CMO is up 3.1% over 2013 and $451,000 over projections. Once again, the Lord has moved his people to respond to his grace with generous thank offerings. We thank him, and we thank God’s people for their faithfulness in supporting our work as a synod.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

Pastor partners training held

On Sept. 23-24, 37 pastors participated in mentor training. Through Pastor Partners – a program offered by Grow in Grace, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s institute for continuing education – seminary graduates are voluntarily paired with a mentor to help them through the first three years of ministry.

Pastors from Alaska to Arizona attended in person, and others joined via Google hangouts from New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas, and even Southeast Asia. These mentors are a sounding board, providing a listening ear for new pastors to discuss troubling, difficult, or new situations and ask for prayer and advice. By the third year, mentors can talk about bigger picture items such as a church’s—or pastor’s personal—five- and ten-year plan and helping strengthen the ties to other pastors in the circuit.

Rev. Richard Gurgel, Grow in Grace director and seminary professor, discussed how Pastors Partners can work hand-in-hand with circuit pastors. “A mentor works himself out of a job,” he says, as the mentor guides a mentee through only the first three years of ministry. A circuit pastor cares for every pastor and congregation through their whole time in the circuit.

Rev. Jon Hein, director of the Commission on Congregational Counseling, reminded mentors how important it is for new pastors to have a home life and remember that his wife and family are part of his support system. He also highlighted how Pastor Partners provides support for pastors’ wives so they do not feel left out or forgotten at a new call.

Rev. Tyler Schinnick, who was assigned to Martin Luther, Neenah, Wis., in May, is thankful for the program. “Being a first-time pastor can feel a bit overwhelming at times, since it seems like there are so many things that you could and should be doing. My conversations with John [Qualmann] have helped me take a step back and think clearly about how I can use my time to put myself in the best position to serve God’s people. This fresh perspective has been a blessing to me as I’ve moved into this new role,” he says.

OWLS meet for 30th annual convention

The Organization of WELS Seniors (OWLS) met for its 30th annual convention Oct. 6-10 in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Nearly 200 members from around the United States came together under the theme “Share the Living Water.”

The convention theme was echoed by keynote speaker, Rev. Wayne Mueller, who urged OWLS never to retire from sharing their Savior. Rev. Jim Aderman acquainted the group with the work of China Partners, and WELS Chief Technology Officer Mr. Martin Spriggs spoke about using technology for spiritual growth and outreach. Other workshops offered opportunities to learn about improving health, leader dogs for the blind, and sharing your faith in a conversation.

Continuing its tradition of supporting the WELS European Civilian Chaplaincy program, which serves military personnel and WELS civilians in Europe, OWLS raised $56,045.31 for the program. This year, they were privileged to hear from Mr. and Mrs. Mike Tracy, who experienced WELS ministry to the military firsthand while stationed around the United States and in Europe.

Rev. Jim Behringer, director of the Commission on Special Ministries, says, “The OWLS demonstrates that retirement is not the end of your Christian service, that there’s a lot of ways in which we serve the Lord all our lives. Their caring for each other, their continuous support of ministry, their act of working in their churches—these are all ways they demonstrate that seniors have a lot to contribute to the church.”

Learn more about OWLS at www.wels.net/owls.

Hymnal project survey

The WELS Hymnal Project team is asking for your input. Be a part of the development process by filling out a survey about the current WELS Christian Worship and Christian Worship: Supplement hymn books and how WELS members use them in worship and personally. It will take about 20 minutes.

During 2014, the WELS Hymnal Project has conducted three previous surveys to solicit input about how the current hymnal is being used and how the new hymnal can best serve our church body. The first was for pastors, the second for teachers, and the third for musicians. This fourth survey, intended for all WELS members, will ask for feedback on things like chanting psalms, instruments that accompany worship, wording for the songs and prayers of worship, and singing hymns and songs of the liturgy in four-part harmony.

The survey results will help the WELS Hymnal Project committee analyze the issues that have already been identified and make decisions about the next hymnal. Rev. Jonathan Bauer, communications committee chairman of the WELS Hymnal Project, says, “While the survey isn’t by any means a vote, it will help the subcommittees make various decisions. Just as an example, question 22 asks about several items that Christian Worship doesn’t currently include that we are considering including in the next book. So we want to know which ones people would find valuable.”

The WELS Hymnal Project is a collaboration between the Conference of Presidents, Northwestern Publishing House, and the Commission on Worship.

The deadline to submit your input is Tues., Nov. 25, 2014. Learn more about the hymnal project at www.welshymnal.com.

Benefiting our workers

Starting Nov. 1, WELS VEBA is offering limited open enrollment into its health care plan. Eligible workers at WELS/Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) organizations that have at least one worker already using WELS VEBA can enroll through Nov. 30.

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

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

Knowing that coverage will remain intact offers peace of mind to called workers when they receive calls to different ministries or congregations, making health care coverage not a factor in the decision-making process.

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

“As the church’s plan, we understand the need to keep coverage costs stable from year to year and as low as reasonably possible, so that calling bodies can preserve valuable assets to fund ministry efforts,” says Peterman.

Congregations appreciate this effort to maintain reasonable costs as they look to provide health care for their workers. Mr. Stan Bothe, congregation president at Peace, Green Lake, Wis., says, “We’re not big and we don’t have unlimited funding, so to know we can offer our teachers and our pastor a good health plan that will meet their needs and that they can take with them if they should be called into a new ministry is a relief. It’s important to take care of the people who work in the ministry.”

Eligible workers will be mailed information about the limited open enrollment in late October. Learn more at www.welsbpo.net or by calling 414-256-3860.

Conference of Presidents hold its fall meeting

The Conference of Presidents (COP) held its fall meeting Oct. 13-16. In addition to the regular discussions regarding congregations and called workers, the COP took the following actions:

  • Adopted a timetable for the special offering to be held in the fall of 2015 intended to eliminate the synod’s capital debt.
  • Made changes to clarify and strengthen the process that determines whether former called workers will be restored for eligibility to be called into the public ministry.
  • Extended for another year the call to Rev. Jon Hein as the director of the Commission for Congregational Counseling (CCC). The COP recognized that good progress is being made and that the CCC is providing significant benefits to congregations as they address challenges and opportunities in their ministry.
  • Called Mr. Bradley Price to serve as the director of WELS Prison Ministry.
  • Approved a proposal to gather additional statistical information from congregations, specifically in the areas of the overall age of members.
  • Reviewed plans presented by the Reformation 500 committee. One significant project will be the development of a documentary of the life and work of Martin Luther.
  • Continued work on the revision of the paper, “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.” The revision attempts to clarify the proper application of biblical principles, especially as they relate to pornography and the Internet. The revision is nearing completion and will be available sometime in 2015.
  • Decided that, when in-depth study of matters of doctrine and practice become necessary, the COP will assign the study to specially appointed ad hoc committees. The COP prefers this approach to having a standing doctrinal commission that addresses all doctrinal studies.
  • Decided to list staff ministers in a separate category in the synod yearbook beginning in 2016. Currently staff ministers are listed with teachers.

The COP also received the following reports:

  • Michigan District President John Seifert provided a progress report on the Wartburg Project, a private and independent effort by WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastors to produce a new translation of the Bible by Lutherans.
  • Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Richard Gurgel provided an update on Grow in Grace, the seminary’s institute for continuing education.
  • Representatives of the WELS Military Services Committee outlined the changes that have taken place in the policies and regulations dealing with military chaplains.
  • Martin Luther College Professor Jon Schaefer reviewed the progress in the New Teacher Induction program
  • Representatives of the WELS VEBA plan shared plans to provide information to congregations regarding the benefits of WELS VEBA to our congregations and workers.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

Relevant yet true to its roots

“Northwestern Publishing House materials . . . lift your spirits and keep you focused on Christ for your hope,” says Rev. Gary Pufahl, pastor at Christ, Big Bend, Wis.

Pufahl is one of several Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) customers who were featured in a new video that highlights the impact NPH has on those it serves. Congregations recently received a copy of this video that shares how God works through NPH, the synod’s publishing house since 1891.

“NPH remains the trusted publisher for WELS,” says Mr. Bill Ziche, NPH president. “We’re working hard to fulfill that and to make sure we’re meeting people’s needs.”

NPH has called two new editors to continue to look at new ways to address the spiritual needs of people today. Rev. Dan Schroeder will be working to refresh existing Bible studies and to create new ones that are relevant in today’s world. In a newly established position, Rev. Christopher Doerr will be focusing on creating resources to reach newer Christians within WELS as well as those who may or may not be Christian outside WELS.

Using electronic means to distribute its products is another way NPH is looking to reach a wider audience as well as meet the needs of its longtime customers. Over 110 new, best-selling, and classic NPH book titles are available as e-books, and Meditations, a collection of daily devotions and prayers, is now available as an Apple app. Since its release in March, more than 16,500 people from 138 countries have downloaded the Meditations app to take advantage of this daily dose of God’s Word.

Besides creating new products, NPH is working to let people know about its wide array of materials that is already available. Congregations and schools can host book fairs in which NPH will ship a customizable selection of materials to the church, literally bringing the Milwaukee store to any location. NPH itself is hosting weekly and monthly events at its Milwaukee store to reach out in its community. “Whether [our neighbors] are church members or not, we have an opportunity to reach them with the Word through our ministry at NPH,” says Ziche.

A refreshed logo, with a cross and Bible in the forefront, demonstrates NPH’s resolve to carry out its mission to deliver biblically sound Christ-centered resources within WELS and beyond. “The updated logo symbolizes what NPH is doing,” says Ziche. “We’re staying true to our roots in what we do and true to our mission and calling, but at the same time we’re making sure that we’re fresh and relevant in today’s world.”

Watch the video and learn more about the meaning behind NPH’s logo.

New HR director at WELS

Mr. Dennis Maurer has been named director of Human Resources for WELS.

Maurer began serving at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis., Oct. 1. He oversees the personnel functions for the synod and is responsible for the implementation of personnel policies, recruitment, compensation, benefits, performance management, and employee relations. Human Resources also serves as a resource to WELS congregations and to affiliated groups and entities. “I’m here to help with any day-to-day issue that may arise,” says Maurer. “I look forward to assisting our congregations and schools with their questions.”

The outgoing director of Human Resources, Mr. Todd Scott, accepted a similar position for Washington County in Wisconsin in July after two years of service to the synod.

Maurer has held senior human resources management positions the past 17 years for Rockwell Automation and Telsmith, Inc. He is excited to share his knowledge with the synod. “I couldn’t ask for a more worthwhile position in human resources than to support and assist the people who are serving our Lord,” says Maurer. “The synod, and my church in particular, has been very good to me and my family over the years, and the opportunity to serve my Lord in this position appeals to me greatly.”

Maurer, a member of St. John’s, Wauwatosa, Wis., is married (Lois) with four children: a son at UW-Madison; a son in his senior year at Wisconsin Lutheran High School; Milwaukee, Wis.; and nine-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.

Annual symposium looks at preaching

On Sept. 22-23, 400 pastors and students attended the annual symposium at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. The topic of this year’s symposium was preaching.

Rev. Paul Wendland, seminary president, opened the symposium by reminding those in attendance of the importance of the words they speak. “Words often seem like an insubstantial thing. They are spoken. They are heard. Then they are gone,” he said. “But not this Word. Jesus’ words are spirit. They are life. Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus’ words do not. We are privileged to speak those words.”

Three speakers then addressed how 21st-century Lutheran preachers can clearly proclaim law and gospel in our rapidly changing, increasingly diverse, and biblically illiterate culture.

In the first essay, Rev. Michael Jensen, St. Mark, Watertown, Wis., looked at how pastors can trace their preaching roots to Jesus. He shared, “The Messiah shows us what our preparation and preaching is to be. Like our Messiah, we do not come to announce law-based tips for better living. We come to announce something other worldly, something that cannot be known or experienced apart from God’s proclamation. To proclaim this gospel is our sole reason for entering the pulpit.”

Presenting the second paper, Rev. Andrew Bauer, New Life, Lake Zurich, Ill., traced the history of some famous American Evangelical preachers and their emphases and styles. “For people whose activity of ‘preaching’ is so closely bound up with who we are, namely ‘preachers,’ it is a given that we will be interested in our craft, interested about hearing preaching in our circles and other circles, interested in learning what others have done, giving thanks for the good while marking the bad,” he shared.

For the final presentation of the symposium, Rev. Phillip Sievert, Lord of Life, Thornton, Colo., looked at today’s culture and how it affects both the preacher and the listener. “Twenty centuries after Peter proclaimed the gospel on the streets of Jerusalem and Paul preached on the streets of Athens, the world we live in and the people to whom we preach, are becoming more and more influenced by a post-Christian landscape,” he said. “In a way, we are moving from an Acts 2 cultural context to an Acts 17 setting; from a world shaped by Christianity to a world that is pushing Christianity further and further into the background. As Lutheran preachers, we will want to gain insight in how to speak with such an ever-changing culture in a way that communicates as clearly as possible God’s unchanging truth and the gospel of our Lord and Savior.”

All the papers and reactions are available at http://wlsce.net/symposium and archived video of the essays can be found at http://new.livestream.com/welslive.

CMO gifts show increase

Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) for September totaled $1,718,829, an increase of more than $280,000 (plus 19.5 percent) over the previous year. Year to date, CMO receipts are $14,283,643 compared to $13,945,002 at the same point in 2013. This represents an increase of 2.4 percent.

Overall, congregations are keeping pace with their commitments through September, with total gifts representing 101 percent of what was committed.

We thank God for moving his people to share so generously in their gifts to support the work we do together as a synod. We can also thank our congregations, members, and called workers for their faithfulness in their stewardship efforts.

As we enter the time of year when many congregations are emphasizing our God-given mission, this news can be a wonderful reminder not only of God’s continuing gracious work among us but also of the many opportunities he is giving us to take the saving gospel to as many people as possible.

Serving with you in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

Congregations reach out with WELS movie

On Sept. 13, more than 200 people attended a community movie night featuring Come Follow Me sponsored by St. Peter, St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. This was the congregation’s fourth annual outdoor, drive-in style movie event.

Mr. Dave Stuht, staff minister at St. Peter, says, “Come Follow Me is an excellent movie because it is short and sweet but it gives community members the answers they will need when dealing with guilt, reminding them that Jesus forgave Peter and he forgave you and me.”

Come Follow Me was released in fall 2013 and is the winner of awards at three Christian film festivals this year. It is the second in a series of four outreach movies that are a collaboration between WELS Commissions on Evangelism and Adult Discipleship; Northwestern Publishing House; WELS Multi-Language Publications; and Boettcher+Trinklein Television, Inc. Road to Emmaus, the first film in the series, outlines God’s plan of salvation.

St. Peter has shown snippets from Road to Emmaus during previous years’ movie events. This year, though, “we wanted to be bold like an eagle!” says Stuht.

Other WELS congregations are also using Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me as ways to reach out to their communities. St. Paul, Menomonie, Wis., has rented an area theater and is planning an outreach effort for its community on Sept. 18. After viewing Come Follow Me, audience members will have a chance to talk via Skype with the movie’s director and producer, Mr. Steve Boettcher.

Good Shepherd’s, West Allis, Wis., has purchased 2,000 DVDs of Road to Emmaus and 1,200 DVDs of Come Follow Me. Mr. Mark Bergemann, a member of Good Shepherd’s, explains that most of these DVDs have already been given away to new residents in the congregation’s neighborhood; neighbors attending the annual block party; parents of children attending vacation Bible school; and at other outreach events, such as this summer’s community festival in which Good Shepherd’s distributed more than 400 DVDs.

Good Shepherd’s also offers DVDs of Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me for free on its Web site. After Good Shepherd’s sent DVDs of both films to Buenos Aires, Argentina, it received word back that they were a real blessing.

As Bergemann notes, “These films give a clear gospel message.”

Congregations can order copies of the movie in bulk for members and prospects for only $2 per copy at www.comefollowmemovie.com. Individual copies are available for $14.50 through Northwestern Publishing House at www.nph.net or 800-662-6022. The movie also serves as the 2013-14 Walking Together emphasis.

To learn more, visit www.wels.net/comefollowme.

Non-resident missionary to Nigeria called

In an attempt to strengthen national leadership and provide more hands-on opportunities to work with leaders and members, the Africa Committee of WELS World Missions has called Rev. Douglas Weiser to serve part-time as a non-resident missionary to our two sister synods in Nigeria, Christ the King and All Saints. Weiser started his call in July.

Weiser has served as liaison to Nigeria since 2002 and has conducted 21 field visits since that time. As liaison, he traveled to Nigeria twice a year for three weeks at a time as well as arranged instructors to teach at the Nigerian seminary—besides serving a parish call in Bellevue, Washington. Now as a non-resident missionary, he will make quarterly visits for a month at a time as well as have more time to do administrative work and conduct presentations back in the U.S. “With dividing my time between two synods, [before] I could only spend five or six days with each and only meet with leaders. There are all kinds of other groups and people I should spend time with,” says Weiser, now retired from full-time ministry. “This gives me a lot more time for mentoring and hands-on training.”

WELS especially works closely with Christ the King and All Saints in training their pastors. Since the seminary opened in 1992, WELS professors and pastors have traveled to Nigeria to teach courses. Currently seven students from All Saints and three students from Christ the King study on Christ the King’s seminary campus in Uruk Uso. Weiser says that if classes stay on schedule, these students will graduate in January 2015, the fourth graduating class from the Nigerian seminary.

Weiser made his first trip to Nigeria as a non-resident missionary in July. On that trip he presented several courses requested from the president of All Saints at three different locations as well as helped dedicate the first synod office and preseminary classroom for All Saints. Now All Saints will offer its own preseminary courses for two years before students take three years of seminary courses at Uruk Uso.

Weiser, along with Dr. E. Allen Sorum and Rev. Scott Mews, plans to return to Nigeria in October. Sorum and Mews will be teaching classes at the seminary while Weiser visits various congregations to meet with the national leadership. An August teaching team’s visit had to be canceled due to an outbreak of ebola in Nigeria. “Our office, in conjunction with the risk management team, will continue to monitor the ebola situation with the understanding that we cannot put our called workers in harm’s way,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator for WELS World Missions.

Currently 18 national pastors serve more than 50 congregations and 4,200 members in our two sister synods in Nigeria. While Congregation Mission Offerings provide partial funding, the growth of the work in Nigeria is made possible by special gifts.

“I pray that there’s a growing army of trained confessional Lutheran pastors who can take the leadership of the Nigerian church well into the future,” says Schlomer.

Read more about the Nigerian church.

Special Ministries coordinators meet

On Sept. 9 and 10, district Special Ministries coordinators and the Commission of Special Ministries met at the Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., to discuss the many aspects of WELS Special Ministries—a meeting they hold once a year.

Rev. Jim Behringer, director of the Commission on Special Ministries, says, “The annual meeting of the Commission on Special Ministries and the district Special Ministries coordinators is vital to our work. The coordinators are the people who communicate with our called workers and churches, making them aware of ministry resources for unusual circumstances. The commission members have the responsibility to continue to develop these ministry resources. Everyone discusses how to improve our ministry to people with special needs.”

Special Ministries works to meet the ministry needs and share the gospel with people who are experiencing either disabilities or special circumstances. Eight areas comprise Special Ministries: the Care Committee for Called Workers, Mission to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Committee on Mental Health Needs, Health and Wellness Committee, Prison Ministry, Military Services, Mission for the Visually Impaired, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry.

Behringer says, “We discussed how to arouse the love and compassion of church members for those with special needs. We are seeing more opportunities for lay members to use their gifts to serve others.”

The group also took note of three important servants to Special Ministries who died in the last year: Mr. Alfons Woldt, former Special Ministries administrator; Rev. Carl Ziemer, Special Ministries administrator until 2012; and Mr. Dave Nack, Prison Ministry administrator. The Conference of Presidents will be issuing a call for the Prison Ministry administrator this fall; acall for nominations has been issued.

To learn more about Special Ministries, visit www.wels.net/special-ministries.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary to host synod convention

Planning is underway for the 63rd biennial convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod to be held at Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) in Saginaw, Mich., July 27-30, 2015. More than 400 delegates will be meeting under the theme “One in Christ.” The synod’s first vice president, Rev. James Huebner, will present an essay on the theme.

MLS President Rev. Joel Petermann is eagerly looking forward to hosting the convention. “MLS belongs to the members of WELS and operates at their direction. Our purpose remains to provide a continuous flow of young people to train to be the pastors, teachers, and staff ministers who will fill these important positions in congregations and as missionaries in our country and beyond. Our synod has provided us with an excellent facility to do this, and we are delighted to have delegates visit and see how well it serves us as we fulfill our purpose,” says Petermann.

Conventions are held at three of the synodical schools on a rotating basis. “The last time MLS hosted the synod convention (2009) our enrollment was about 180. Today, by God’s grace, our enrollment is at 230 including 36 students from outside the Michigan District or from international locations,” says Petermann. “The delegates will enjoy seeing a number of improvements on our campus. Our dormitory rooms were remodeled this summer, and most of our delegates will wake up to a carpeted floor instead of cold tiles under their feet. They will have Internet access in their rooms and in our convention hall thanks to a new wireless system throughout our campus.”

During the convention, called workers and lay members will hear presentations, discuss issues, and make decisions related to the synod’s work, including setting a ministry plan (budget) for the next biennium. Two offices to be filled by election are the synod president and second vice president, positions currently held by Rev. Mark Schroeder and Rev. Joel Voss, respectively. Both are eligible for re-election to another four-year term.

Serving in Christ,

President Mark Schroeder

Evangelism courses at MLC

This fall, the WELS Commission on Evangelism is beginning a new certification program on evangelism, using courses offered through Martin Luther College’s online continuing education program. Building on the popular Schools of Outreach, these courses are designed to help laypeople and called workers lead their congregations with planning and implementing efforts to reach more people with the gospel.

“I really want to help, encourage, pray for, and learn alongside of believers,” says Rev. Donn Dobberstein, chairman of the Commission on Evangelism. “Some may be looking to personally grow in evangelism on behalf of their congregation. Others may be facing challenges or feeling a little overwhelmed or discouraged in their ministry setting.”

Each course provides the biblical foundation for evangelism and ministry resources needed for training and encouraging leaders.

“As WELS members we know sharing Jesus is important; we want to train the leaders in our congregations to be better at it,” says Rev. Michael Hintz, director of the Commission on Evangelism.

The first class, The Mission of the Church, taught by Rev. Donn Dobberstein, begins Sep. 7. The second class, Practical Evangelism for Congregations, taught by Rev. Michael Hintz, will begin Nov. 10. A third course on Friendship Evangelism will be offered early in 2015 and will be taught by Rev. John Huebner.

“These courses will place them in a learning environment providing mutual support, assistance, and friendship – God-willing, long after the short courses are over,” says Dobberstein.

To learn more and register for the classes: http://connect.wels.net/evangelism.

Luther Prep to hold open house

For 150 years, Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., has been “Preparing Lives for Service” to God and to his mission for the church. On Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. (central) the school will be hosting an open house to share the school’s important role in WELS ministry with WELS members and the surrounding community.

The open house will include campus tours, a brief history of the campus, student choirs, a meet and greet with LPS faculty, and light refreshments.

LPS President Rev. Matt Crass, says, “We want our visitors to take away an appreciation for the blessing this campus has been to our church body for the past 150 years. We also want them to understand that the purpose remains the same today as it was 150 years ago.”

Crass continues, “LPS belongs to the entire WELS church body. The majority of our pastors and high percentage of our teachers were influenced through their time as a student on the synod’s Watertown campus.”

Mark your calendar to visit the synod’s historic campus. Learn more about LPS and its plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary at www.lps.wels.net.

Summer assistants serve churches

This summer, ten Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., students served in congregations in Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, California, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. These summer assistants served with Spanish outreach, helped with sports camps, preached, led Bible studies, helped with teens, assisted in worship, made outreach calls, taught vacation Bible school and English as a Second Language classes, and participated in summer Bible camp.

John Paustian, who served at Peace, Eagle River, Alaska, is thankful for the opportunity. “Pastor [Brian] Hackmann got me involved very quickly with the church,” he says. “The experience you gain is a great step in the right direction to further strengthening yourself as a pastor.”

His hands-on experience was all the practical aspects of preparing for vacation Bible school: making sign-up forms, advertising at local businesses, helping build a cardboard boat float for two parades, and making door-to-door visits to get the word out. All the work paid off. “The VBS was a huge success and the church had over 150 children register,” Paustian says. “There were many families who were unchurched and we used VBS to visit every child’s home with a CD/DVD of the songs they had sung.”

Summer assistants don’t simply help a church with projects, they also receive on-the-job training. Paustian preached four new sermons, assisted with liturgy, and led Bible class. “Pastor Hackmann worked with me throughout all these tasks and helped me to continue to grow,” he says.

For all the practical ways he participated in the life of the church—and the bonus of a summer in Alaska—”ultimately, the best part was getting to know people and being a part of their lives, sharing stories, struggles, and even great successes. And that is what ministry is about—people,” he explains. “Getting to know them enhances how you can serve them in conversation, in your worship together, and in their life as a whole.”

Learn more about Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary at www.wls.wels.net.

Initial planning for the ministry financial plan

During the month of August, all areas of the synod’s ministry began initial work on the synod’s Ministry Financial Plan (budget) for the next 2015-2017 biennium.

The first step in the process was the adoption of a “support forecast.” This is an estimation, based on future projections and historical patterns, of the financial support from all sources likely to be available in the next two years. This forecast will continue to be modified as circumstances change in the next six to eight months.

The current forecast is a conservative one. It asks areas of ministry to submit plans that assume no increase in financial support over the current year. Since our prayer is that available financial support will increase, areas of ministry have also been asked to outline their plans if God blesses us with such increases.

Once the various areas of ministry and other departments submit their initial proposals, it is the responsibility of the synod president to craft a comprehensive Ministry Financial Plan for the entire work of the synod. An initial draft of this comprehensive plan is presented to the President’s Advisory Council in late September for reaction and suggested modifications. The plan, with any changes made, is then submitted to the Synodical Council (SC) for its initial consideration in November. In February, after the 2015 Congregation Mission Offering subscriptions are received and other financial information becomes available, the SC will adopt a final version of the plan and bring its recommendation to the synod convention next July. Along with the plan that it presents to the convention, the SC will also present a list of “unfunded priorities,” that is, programs and ministries that will be carried out if additional funding becomes available.

Even though this process involves a lot of discussion about dollars, it’s really not about money; it’s about ministry and how we work together to carry out the mission that God graciously given to us. The hours of planning for all involved reflects our desire to be faithful stewards of the financial resources God provides, to seize the opportunities that God is placing before us, and to provide the people of our synod with the information necessary to make wise and God-pleasing decisions about the work that we do together.

Serving in Christ,

President Mark Schroeder

Professors from Lutheran colleges meet

More than 150 professors from WELS higher education institutions and those in our fellowship attended the Lutheran College Conference Aug. 10-12 at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., under the theme “Teaching through a Lutheran Lens.” These WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) professors from Wisconsin Lutheran College, Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.; Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minn.; Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato; and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., encouraged each other and shared ideas and approaches for teaching with an eye always on faith.

“Teaching through a Lutheran lens is a conversation that has been occurring on our campus for many years now,” says Professor Rhoda Wolle, chairperson of the faculty development committee at Wisconsin Lutheran College. “It’s remaining mindful of why we do what we do and how we do it to the best of our ability and to the glory of our Savior.”

Rev. Mark Zarling, president of Martin Luther College, says this conference was a great opportunity for attendees to gather around Word and sacrament for the Spirit’s strength. “All professors in these colleges seek to be instruments of the Spirit to nurture faith and instill a biblical and Christocentric worldview in our students,” he says. “How vital this is as we live in a society that is flooded with false world views. . . . Christians teaching in higher education are strengthened to be clear witnesses not only to their students, but also to an academic world that no longer espouses propositional truth.”

Through general presentations as well as set times for specific academic departments to meet, the conference gave participants opportunities to see how their colleagues incorporate confessional Lutheranism in their teaching—no matter what the topic.

“One of my favorite proverbs is ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ I think that’s why I’m here,” says Professor Chad Heins, biology, Bethany Lutheran College. “Here there’s multiple sections with different professors teaching different things. They all approach things differently and yet have that common spiritual theme embedded in everything.”

This is the fifth conference put together by this group, the first being held in 2000 at Bethany Lutheran College. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary participated in the conference for the first time this year. “It’s new territory for me,” says Rev. Forrest Bivens, professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. “But the concept is just so excellent—to have Lutheran educators who are giving thanks to God for being Lutherans . . . and to see them devoting themselves to the priority of remaining Lutheran as well as growing professionally all wrapped in one beautiful package.”

The next conference is scheduled to be held at Martin Luther College in 2017.

Connecting kids for 20 years

Twenty years ago, the first Kids ConnectionVHS tapes were being sent to WELS schools across the country. Now, marking its twentieth anniversary, the children of that first Kids Connection audience are viewing the DVDs every month at WELS schools. While technology, styles, and hosts have changed over the years, the message has remained the same: “Stay connected to Jesus.”

That message, says Mr. Steve Boettcher, who has been producing the videos for all 20 years, is “as true this season as it was 20 years ago. It’s something we really truly believe in.”

Kids Connection, a video implemented by the WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry, was born out of a desire from teachers and pastors who wanted a WELS Connection-style video with a message targeted to kids. Nine episodes are made each year, one for each month of the school year.

Boettcher says, “We want to connect Christian kids to other Christian kids, showing there are other schools like theirs and other Christians like them across the nation in WELS.” The goal, he explains, is to highlight young Christians as much as possible in the videos, including the high school-aged hosts of each episode.

Helping WELS kids stay connected for the past 20 years is Rev. Tony Schultz, pastor at St. Luke’s, Watertown, Wis. He has offered up a reflection on God’s Word in every episode for all 20 seasons. Schultz says, “Month after month to be able to tell tens of thousands of kids that Jesus loves them, that’s a privilege to touch more lives than you ever could in one building.”

The message Schultz hopes viewers take away resonates with kids and adults alike: “Every hour of every day, look for Jesus. Look for his grace, his love, and his wisdom and power in everything around you. Always be looking for Jesus. We always say ‘stay connected to Jesus,’ but the fact is Jesus is always connected to us. He’s always watching you; he’s always with you; he always loves you.”

Nearly 300 WELS schools and churches already subscribe to Kids Connection. To help the youth at your school or congregation stay connected to Jesus, fill out the subscription form on Connect.

Many countries, one faith in Peru

“We all speak the same language.”

While Mr. Pedro Abel Beltran Callejas from the Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Luterana Confesional in Bolivia may not be referring to the words coming from everyone’s mouth, he does highlight the pure gospel message preached and taught by the member churches of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). Seventy-four delegates and guests from those churches met May 30 to June 2 in Lima, Peru, for the eighth triennial CELC convention under the theme “We are God’s workmanship—created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

While at the convention, attendees studied essays on sanctification presented by leaders from five different CELC member church bodies. Presentations from church bodies and mission fields allowed attendees to rejoice in the work of the Lord being done around the world.

“I want to take back to Chile a message that we are not alone,” says Mr. Victor Henriquez from the Christian Church of the Lutheran Reformation in Chile. “There are others that believe the same things that we believe. But I didn’t think that there were so many and from so many parts of the world.”

The Christian Church of the Lutheran Reformation in Chile was one of five church bodies that was accepted into associate membership with the CELC at this convention. Others include the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albania; St. John’s Lutheran Congregation in Finland; and two sister churches in South Asia.

“Where I’m from it’s very cold. People are not so friendly to the message of Christ. To come here where everyone believes in the Bible—it’s very warming,” says Mr. David Åkerlund, the representative from St. John’s Lutheran Congregation in Finland, a church with only 14 members.

While at the convention, attendees had an opportunity to worship with local Peruvian congregations at the seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Peru. Hundreds of people attended this bilingual service.

“I felt like I was at the first Pentecost,” says Rev. Mark Schroeder, WELS president and delegate at the convention. “You’re sitting in a worship service with people who all speak different languages, and yet you see that the Holy Spirit gives unity of faith. It’s amazing to see how the gospel transcends culture, language, and borders. It really drives home that we are one in Christ Jesus.”

The next CELC convention will be held in Grimma, Germany, in 2017, the same year as the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. This year’s convention voted to assemble a special CELC committee to put together “Ninety-five Theses for the 21st Century” as an anniversary project. The topics for these theses would include Lutheran fundamentals, with an emphasis on where confessional Lutheranism is at odds with contemporary culture, society, and church life. The hope is that these theses would be completed in time for approval by the CELC convention in 2017.

The CELC—composed of 29 member churches worldwide—provides a forum for confessional Lutherans who are in fellowship. Learn more about the CELC and our sister church bodies atwww.celc.info. Also watch for further coverage of this convention in the August Forward in Christ.

Celebrating God’s grace to our synod

On Aug. 10, the WELS Historical Institute is hosting a 150th anniversary celebration of the Landmark Church, which was first used as a church building for Salem, Milwaukee, Wis., and then as a museum for the synod beginning in 1985. Also, the log cabin church that was on this site before the Landmark Church was built was the place where a small group of pastors met in 1850 to adopt the synod’s first constitution. The state of Wisconsin is recognizing the establishment of the Wisconsin synod on this site with a state historical marker during the Aug. 10 celebration.

As Dan Nommensen, vice president of the WELS Historical Institute, notes, “This is an opportunity for all to celebrate the story of God’s grace to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.”

The sesquicentennial celebration is free and includes a celebration worship service, dedication of the state historical marker, opening of the Landmark Church’s cornerstone, mini concerts by the 1st Brigade Band, and tours of the museum and nearby cemetery. The festivities begin at 9 a.m. at Salem Landmark Church in Milwaukee and continue throughout the day.

Nommensen says, “In our busy schedules, it’s sometimes hard to find time to recognize and celebrate our past. However, just look at how the Lord has blessed our synod since we first organized in 1850! Think of all the stories and all the history we have from each corner of the synod that now stand as a testimony to the grace of God. Come be a part of that on Aug. 10.”

For more information about the Aug. 10 event or the WELS Historical Institute, visit www.welshistory.org.

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