The Conference of Presidents (COP) met for its fall meeting during the first week of October. Here are some of the highlights of that meeting:
- The COP issued calls for three Christian giving counselors. Rev. Jonathan Stern was called to a part-time semi-retirement position to serve the Arizona-California District; Rev. Bryan Schwarz was called to serve in a full-time position serving the South Central and South Atlantic Districts; Rev. Thomas Mielke was called to serve in a full-time position serving the Northern Wisconsin District.
- There are 106 vacancies in parish pastor positions, seven in semi-retirement positions, two in foreign mission fields, three in professor positions, and three in other pastor-trained positions.
- The COP received a progress report from a special committee assigned to make recommendations regarding the coordination of campus worship activities and worship curriculum in our ministerial education schools.
- The Translation Review Committee submitted its final report of its review of the Christian Standard Bible. The review will be made available soon. The committee is also currently conducting a similar review of the Evangelical Heritage Version and plans to complete that review by the end of the year.
- The COP discussed the process for conducting discipline and carrying out suspension of called workers. It was agreed that the COP will review the synod’s bylaws dealing with this process and recommend any necessary changes to the next synod convention.
- The COP received a report from a special committee reviewing the synod’s pension plan for called workers. The COP expressed support for the recommendations, which will be presented to the Synodical Council in November.
- Aaron Bublitz was appointed to serve on the Commission on Discipleship.
- The COP established age 55 as the earliest age at which a called worker may retire. Departures from the ministry prior to age 55 will be categorized as resignations.
- The COP discussed the matter of Calvary Academy. Calvary Academy was a boarding school for troubled teens, located near Lakeland, Fla. It was a WELS-affiliated, independent, parasynodical ministry, meaning that it was a ministry carried out and supported by WELS members but was not operated by the synod or a part of the synod’s ministry. Several months ago, Calvary Academy ceased operations and declared Chapter 128 bankruptcy. This means that a lawyer has been appointed by the court to liquidate the assets of Calvary and to use those assets to pay creditors. Many WELS members had made loans to Calvary; they are now waiting to see what portion, if any, of those loans can be returned to them. It was reported to the COP that people are still sending gifts to Calvary. The COP advises that no one send additional gifts to this ministry that has been discontinued. The court has determined that any gifts received for Calvary will be forwarded to a different organization. In addition, if you have included Calvary Academy in your estate plan, the COP strongly encourages you to take steps to remove Calvary from your will.
- The COP continued its discussion on how to provide additional assistance to the presidents of the three largest districts (Northern Wisconsin, Southeastern Wisconsin, and Western Wisconsin). A likely solution will be to make greater use of the district vice presidents in the work normally done by the district president.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder
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