Two dozen leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) and WELS met Oct.19-20 at the Country Inn and Suites, Mankato, Minn. The forum was to take place on the Bethany Lutheran College campus but was moved due to COVID-19.
“We would have enjoyed the opportunity to gather on the Bethany campus, but due to our COVID-19 protocol requiring social distancing in classrooms, and given that the Bethany student body was already using all of our larger campus spaces, we just didn’t have the facility space on campus to host the forum this time,” says Dr. Gene Pfeifer, president of Bethany Lutheran College. “Nonetheless, we’re pleased our two synods could still gather in Mankato to discuss ways we can work together to advance confessional Lutheranism among our church bodies.”
The meeting provided the sister synods an opportunity to share information about what each synod is doing during the pandemic and allowed discussion of several theological topics.
“As ELS and WELS leaders hear what is taking place in the two synods, it is a time to reflect and to rejoice in the blessings the Lord provides,” says Rev. Keith Free, administrator of WELS Home Missions. “It is a time to discuss ministry. Above all, it is a time to pray for our ELS brothers and sisters in Christ as well as for our church body that we remain faithful to the teachings of Scripture as we point more people to Jesus Christ as the world’s Savior from sin.”
During the forum, ELS/WELS leaders updated one another on mutual issues in the synods and then participated in divisional meetings by representatives in the following areas: administration, higher education, doctrine/seminary, stewardship, communications, missions (home and world), and schools.
Following reports from each synod president, three theological essays were presented and discussed during the plenary session, including “Expectations and Challenges Communicating the Gospel Electronically” by ELS Communications Director Rev. Paul Fries. “The past year has shown the importance of communicating the gospel in new ways to our members and to our world,” says Fries. “Technology provides many ways for us reach out with God’s Word—the message of saving grace through faith in Jesus. As we explore new ways of reaching the world with the gospel, we continue to treasure the fellowship that we share.”
The next Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum is scheduled for Oct. 17-18, 2022, at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis.