The Conference of Presidents (COP) held its fall meeting last week at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis.
Two years ago a special committee was appointed by the Synodical Council to consider ways to improve the WELS pension plan for called workers. That committee has completed its work; its recommendation will be considered by the Synodical Council in November. Since the Conference of Presidents has a vital interest in the called workers of the synod, the committee shared the details of its proposal with the COP. The COP expressed its support for the recommendation and will forward its endorsement to the Synodical Council. If the Synodical Council adopts it, the detailed proposal will be made public and sent to the districts for consideration at their conventions this summer.
The COP adopted a document entitled “Human sexuality, Personhood, Identity, and the Historic Christian Faith: A Confession on Human Sexuality.” This document was written to address the current controversy and unbiblical views of the transgender issue. A shorter pastoral brief on the issue is also being prepared to help pastors as they address this issue in their ministry. These documents will be ready for publication as soon as they are placed into final form.
Another major decision of the COP was to accept the work of a committee that has produced a restatement of our synod’s doctrinal position on the God-given roles of man and women. “Male and Female in God’s Word” does not represent any change in our synod’s position; rather it is intended to clarify and expand on several aspects of the issue that are not fully addressed in the current WELS doctrinal statement. An accompanying Bible study has also been produced. These materials will be made available later this fall for study and discussion at pastor and teacher conferences and in congregations. Input and questions will be sought during the next year, and the statement will be presented to the synod convention for approval in 2021.
The COP is continuing its work on revisions to the synod’s bylaws that deal with the process of discipline for called workers and congregations.
Finally, the COP is also continuing to investigate whether the IRS provisions allowing ministers of the gospel to deduct their housing expenses applies to female teachers. There are some questions about whether the IRS and the courts have changed in their interpretation of this law and whether female teachers qualify for the deduction. The COP will report its findings as soon as they are available.
Serving in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder