Conference of Presidents holds its fall meeting

The Conference of Presidents (COP) met Oct. 10-13 at the Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., for its regular fall meeting. Included in the discussions and decisions:

  • The COP noted with thanks to God that Congregation Mission Offerings are up 1.6% over last year ($231,000). As congregations begin planning for next year, a video communication from each district president will encourage and guide congregations in that process.
  • Last year the COP determined that pastors teaching at Lutheran high schools and prep schools fall under the same calling guidelines that restrict the calling of teachers (Nov. 1 through the first week of June, with two calls possible during that time). The COP clarified this policy by determining that pastors serving in primarily administrative roles (presidents/principals, deans, etc.) at the schools can be called at any time.
  • The COP extended divine calls to Rev. Jerry Ewings to serve as a Christian giving counselor and to Rev. Mark Gabb to serve as the director of the Commission on Evangelism.
  • The COP appointed Rev. Doug Tomhave to serve as the chairman of the Commission on Evangelism.
  • Earlier this year the COP established a standing committee to work with WELS parasynodical organizations. This committee is in the process of determining its specific role and establishing the procedures it will follow. The purpose of the committee is to foster good communication and cooperation between the synod and WELS parasynodical organizations. The committee reported that it had begun its work and will continue to develop its goals and policies.
  • The COP concurred with the request of Northwestern Publishing House to conduct a review of the Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) as soon as the complete translation is available. This review will be similar to reviews of the New International Version, the English Standard Version, and the Christian Standard Bible, which have already been done.
  • The COP continues to monitor closely the pastoral vacancy rate and how the calling process can best serve the needs of congregations and workers in a time of a shortage of pastors.
  • The COP discussed the workload of district presidents who serve in the large districts. The COP asked the synod president to investigate various options to provide needed assistance.
  • The COP discussed how the certification process for teachers can be improved and, if possible, streamlined. The COP asked Martin Luther College to review certification requirements for all teachers and to bring its proposals to the January meeting of the COP.
  • The COP will ask the Synodical Council to establish an ad hoc committee to study future options for the WELS Pension Plan. No change in the plan is anticipated in the near future, but the COP agreed that such a study would be beneficial for future decisions.
  • The COP is encouraging all congregations to designate one Sunday in November as a Mission and Ministry Sunday to encourage greater awareness of, and support for, the work we do together as a synod. In the future, congregations will be encouraged to plan a Mission and Ministry Sunday for October.
  • The COP asked for the appointment of a special committee to discuss possible alternative models for congregational constitutions and bylaws.
  • The COP approved a request from Martin Luther College (MLC) for permission to conduct an appeal for MLC’s Congregational Partner Grant Program (CPGP). The CPGP gives congregations the opportunity to provide direct financial support for students at MLC preparing for the public ministry of WELS.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder