LWMS celebrates 60 years at its annual convention

On June 22-25, 2023, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) gathered by the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., to celebrate 60 years of supporting WELS Missions. The convention theme “Peace Like a River” reminded attendees that when Christ is at the center of our hearts, we know peace. More than 1,200 in-person and virtual attendees enjoyed worship, the annual flag presentation, and presentations from WELS home and world missionaries.

One highlight of the convention was a keynote by Missionary Elise Gross, the director of women’s ministry for the WELS One Latin America team. Drawing on the biblical example of Joshua, Gross spoke about the “strength and courage” needed by our sisters throughout Latin America as they share Christ with those around them through the Academia Cristo program.

Mrs. Marli Camargo of Mexico was a first-time attendee and Grupo Sembrador (small learning group) leader who attended with Gross. She was especially moved by taking communion with 1,200 of her brothers and sisters in faith. “Thank you for the opportunity to know the family of Christ from around the world, and to know that although we are a small group here in Mexico, we are not alone,” Camargo says. “Our family in Christ is enormous and blessed.”

Convention attendees also learned about “training the trainers” in our sister synods in Africa, and one home missionary shared his experience with “upcycling evangelism” by repurposing a former school in his community into a vibrant ministry center. Another plenary session explained how everyone can participate in making “100 Missions in 10 Years” a reality. Special “LWMS: 60 Years in 60 Seconds” videos showed highlights from the prior 60 years of gatherings.

“Each convention offers special joy-filled moments!” says Ms. Patsy Kramer, outgoing LWMS president. “This year included the opportunity to meet Marli, our sister in Christ from Mexico. Our Friday night art event was another highlight as Dr. Terry Schultz introduced his work in conjunction with the Bethany art program. Attendees met Prof. Andy Overn and five young female artists who are among those creating art depicting Bible stories now being used to share Jesus in mission fields.”

Attendees are encouraged to share what they learn at the convention with their home congregations, and Camargo eagerly shared her experience with her Grupo Sembrador in Mexico: “They were so excited to hear it and also hope to participate in the future,” she says. “Showing them pictures of people I met and telling them how wonderful this event was made their hearts jump with joy.”

Each year, the LWMS circuits gather offerings for Home and World Missions projects. This year, more than $93,000 was collected to support two projects: students from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who assist home mission congregations in summer, and WELS’ work in new world mission fields. In addition, more than $39,000 was collected through this year’s LWMS kids c.a.r.e. project, supporting annual retreats for the children of WELS missionaries.

Mr. Sean Young, director of missions operations, reflects, “The yearly LWMS convention holds a special place in my heart as it brings together so many ladies (and the men who love them) in support of our Home, World, and Joint Missions. This year has again gone above and beyond in its work of shining a spotlight on our church body’s ministry efforts!”

Mark your calendars for the 61st annual convention in Sioux Falls, S.D., on June 27-30, 2024, based on the theme “Being Built Into a Spiritual House.”

Learn more about LWMS and watch the livestream recordings of this year’s convention.