Conference of Presidents spring 2018 meeting summary

At its recent meeting, the Conference of Presidents (COP) reviewed the pastoral vacancy situation. It was reported that there are 125 vacancies for pastorally trained positions, with 106 of those in parishes. The vacancy rate remains high, although it has not increased since last fall.

The COP has received questions about whether the Scouting organizations have changed in a way that would make it possible for WELS members to participate. In response, the COP has begun a review of the current nature and organizational statements of those organizations to determine whether conflicts with biblical principles remain. The COP will release a report and Bible study once the study is completed.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the workload for presidents of the largest synodical districts has grown to the point where steps need to be taken to provide assistance and relief. Since we continue to believe that its extremely vital that the district presidents remain in parish ministry, any solutions considered would maintain that approach. The COP hopes to have proposals for providing assistance to the presidents of the Western Wisconsin, Southeastern Wisconsin, and Northern Wisconsin Districts by next fall. The type of assistance may vary from district to district.

The COP called Prof. John Boeder of Martin Luther College to serve as a Christian giving counselor. Another call was issued to Rev. Eric Roecker to serve as the director of Evangelism.

The COP has begun to work with the Commission on Congregational Counseling to provide guidance to congregations seeking to merge or consolidate. The intent is to help those congregations to reconfigure their ministries in a way that results in healthy and, with God’s blessing, growing congregations.

The COP will meet in May as the synod’s Assignment Committee. Assignment Day at Martin Luther College is Sat., May 12. Assignment of vicars and graduates at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will take place on Thurs., May 24.

Called to eternal glory

Retired pastor Rev. William Bernhardt was recently called home to heaven by our risen Savior.

Bernhardt had served as the host of the WELS Connection for more than 25 years—from its beginning in 1987 until four years ago.

“As the host of WELS Connection, Rev. Bernhardt provided a consistency that helped the program become one of the most widely used communication tools in our synod,” says Mr. Steve Boettcher, who produces and directs WELS Connection. “Every month Rev. Bernhardt had the ability to bring the sights and sounds of our synod to life for our members. Rev. Bernhardt’s steady presence reminded viewers that all the various WELS efforts worked together—serving our Lord under the banner of WELS and ultimately for his kingdom.”

Others have since stepped in to host the WELS Connection, but for many, Bernhardt will be the face that they always remember. We thank God for his service and for bringing another faithful warrior to his heavenly goal.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder