The Conference of Presidents (COP) met for its fall meeting October 4-7. The COP welcomed two new members, Rev. Daniel Leyrer, president of the Southeastern Wisconsin District, and Rev. Michael Seifert, president of the North Atlantic District.
As a part of its meeting, Rev. James Pope was installed as the new executive editor of Forward in Christ. Pope succeeds Rev. John Braun, who is retiring after 15 years in the position.
The COP approved a recommendation to shift the responsibilities of deferred giving counselor Scott Wagner from another district to the Southeastern Wisconsin District. Mr. Wagner has agreed to this change.
Currently there are 155 vacancies in pastoral positions, with 141 of those being in parishes. The remaining positions are in retirement calls (two), foreign mission positions (three), professor positions (five), and other pastorally trained positions (four).
The COP determined that a mechanism will be put in place to facilitate suggestions and questions regarding the restatement on the roles of men and women. A decision will be made at a later date as to whether the statement will be submitted to the 2023 synod convention or whether additional study is beneficial.
The COP heard an initial report from the task force studying teacher shortages. That task force will continue its work. Mr. Jim Rademan, director of the Commission on Lutheran Schools, also provided an update on the development of a new K-12 religion curriculum. The COP will call someone to lead this project later this year.
Home Missions provided an update on the 100 missions in 10 years effort. Planning is continuing, and the initiative will begin in 2023. World Missions also provided updates on the work our synod is doing in India, Africa, Hong Kong, Thailand, and London. World Missions continues to be the conduit for ongoing relief efforts in Ukraine.
Rev. Jon Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services, introduced a proposal to better utilize the staff members who oversee the work of the various commissions of Congregational Services. A detailed proposal will be presented to the COP at a future meeting.
The COP asked me to appoint a task force to study ways to identify alternatives to Title IV funding (federal student loans and grants) and to explore possible ways to increase financial assistance to students preparing for ministry. The recommendations are intended to be placed before the synod convention in 2023.
The COP approved the creation of a practical, viable, multi-tiered system of professional and ministry certification to support early childhood teachers currently serving in the field. Plans also call for a suite of resources that can be used by early childhood ministries and congregations to better prepare early childhood staffs for teaching in WELS schools.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder