At its spring meeting last week, the Conference of Presidents (COP) discussed the following issues:
- The COP discussed the pastor and teacher shortage and how best to address the growing number of vacancies.
- The COP has adopted guidelines for congregations to follow as they work to fill teacher vacancies in a time of growing teacher shortages.
- A committee has been appointed to plan for the synod’s 175th anniversary in 2025. Prof. Joel Otto is chairman. The theme of the celebration will be “Christ through Us.” A special anniversary offering will be gathered to support specific projects in Home Missions, World Missions, and Ministerial Education.
- Rev. Joel Gaertner accepted the COP’s call to serve in Congregational Services as the director of Special Ministries.
- The COP discussed how best to advise congregations that are considering merging or closing. The COP is asking Congregational Services to provide materials that will guide congregations as they make those decisions.
- Rev. Dan Sims, director of WELS Christian Aid and Relief, encouraged the district presidents to assist in naming district liaisons who can help to coordinate disaster relief. The plan is to have liaisons in place by July 1.
- The COP discussed a proposal to change the synod convention from a biennial to a triennial event. Since this would be a major constitutional change that would require approval by two conventions, the COP decided that the issue should be placed before the 2024 district conventions for reaction and input. The COP itself has taken no position on the issue.
- The COP continued its discussion of the re-statement of the synod’s doctrinal statement on male-female roles. The issue will be discussed by district conventions in 2024 and at various called worker conferences.
- WELS Ministry of Christian Giving reported that 96 percent of all WELS congregations had submitted statistical reports and subscriptions for Congregation Mission Offerings. That percentage is actually higher when congregations with a pastoral vacancy are not included.
- The COP approved a pilot project for a voluntary mentoring system for called worker spouses. The pilot project will take place in the South Central District.
- With the growing need for Christian counselors, the COP was asked by Christian Family Solutions if the COP would encourage such training at Martin Luther College and/or Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. The COP is aware that such a program is in the long-range plan of Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC) and concluded that WLC is the appropriate place for such training to take place.
- The COP made the following appointments or re-appointments: Prof. James Danell, Prof. Joel Otto, and Prof. Nicolas Schmoller (Commission on Inter-Church Relations); Rev. Eric Steinbrenner (Chairman of the Commission on Constitutional Matters); Rev. Richard Waldschmidt (Commission on Constitutional Matters); Rev. John Dolan and Prof. James Westendorf (Publication Review Committee); Rev. Tim Ehlers (Support Committee); Rev. Joel Zank (COP representative on the Synodical Council).
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder