At its winter meeting, held January 11-14, the Conference of Presidents (COP) received the encouraging news that 2014 offerings from congregations totaled $21,272,502. Gifts exceeded the revised projections by $83,000 and were $568,000 higher than the original CMO commitments. The increase over the total received in 2013 was $277,000 or 1.3 percent. “On behalf of the COP I want to express our thanks to God for this blessing, and thanks to the members and congregations of the synod for this generous support,” says WELS President Mark Schroeder.
The COP received the following reports:
- A summary was given of the third round of informal discussions held by representatives of WELS, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in December. The main topic for discussion was the doctrine of fellowship and its application. As was the case in the previous two meetings, these discussions were helpful in clarifying the doctrinal positions and practices of the three synods. Another meeting is planned for December 2015.
- The Ad Hoc II Commission is nearing completion of its work. The COP was provided with a summary of the recommendations that will be brought to the synod convention in July.
- Representatives of WELS, the ELS, and the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) will meet later this month to begin doctrinal discussions. One meeting is planned; others will follow if continued discussions are determined to be beneficial.
- A survey of the 12 districts indicated there are currently 74 total pastoral vacancies (62 in parishes). While certainly not a crisis, the number of vacancies is a reminder and encouragement to encourage young men to consider training for the pastoral ministry.
Other actions by the COP include:
- Continued to work on a revision of the 1989 document entitled “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.” The revision is being done to enable the statement to address more thoroughly contemporary issues as they relate to marriage.
- Approved in concept a proposal for a synod-wide Reformation 2017 gathering in Milwaukee.
- Approved a plan to update guidelines for groups planning conferences and seminars. The COP strongly encourages all groups to seek input and advice from the COP early in their planning.
- Approved a plan to conduct a review of the structure and function of the Ministry of Christian Giving.
- Approved a plan to work with Martin Luther College to identify teacher candidates who have the necessary skills and experience to serve in urban schools.
- Reviewed plans and a timetable for the debt elimination effort that will begin following the synod convention in July. With God’s blessing, the COP hopes to eliminate the remaining synod capital debt by the end of 2016, three years ahead of schedule.