Pre-Convention News

WELS’ 64th biennial convention is being held at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., July 31–Aug. 3, under the theme “Our Great Heritage.”

The biennial synod convention provides the opportunity for grassroots input and decision-making when it comes to the work that we do together as a synod. delegates—including pastors, male teachers, male staff ministers, and laymen— representing congregations across the synod come together to adopt a ministry financial plan (or budget), which describes in detail how we will use the financial resources God provides to carry out his work. The convention helps set the priorities and charts the direction of the synod’s areas of ministry in the coming years.

What’s happening at this year’s synod convention?

  • Worship services: The convention’s opening worship service takes place on Mon., July 31, at 6:30 P.M. CST. The closing worship service will take place on Thurs., Aug. 3, when the convention business concludes.
  • Devotions: Each morning before the convention business begins, a pastor delegate will present a devotion.
  • Missionary presentations: Four world missionaries are attending this year’s synod convention. These missionaries will present about the mission fields that they serve on Tuesday evening from 7-8:30 P.M. CST.
  • Area of ministry presentations: Area of ministry administrators and committee chairmen will share ministry updates and tell delegates about their areas’ blessings and opportunities.
  • Essay: John Brenner, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, will present an essay titled God’s Word is Our Great Heritage on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Elections: delegates will elect the synod’s first vice president and secretary as well as board members for synod commissions, boards, and committees. Interested in the candidates? Visit convention to view ballots and candidate biographies.
  • Declarations of fellowship: The WELS Commission on Inter-Church relations is recommending that WELS declare fellowship with three foreign church bodies—the East Asia Lutheran Synod, the Lutheran Church of Ethiopia, and the South Asian Lutheran Evangelical Mission (SALEM) in Hong Kong. representatives from each of these church bodies are attending the convention and will greet delegates with a short message.
  • Greetings from sister church bodies: delegates will get to hear from representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Germany.
  • Floor committee meetings and resolutions: The work of the convention takes place as delegates meet with their assigned floor committees to consider the reports that pertain to their area of ministry. Floor committees write resolutions on the topics that they feel should be addressed and present their resolutions to all the delegates. delegates can then discuss and vote on these convention resolutions, helping set the stage for work that will take place over the next biennium.
  • 95 Theses for the 21st Century presentation: The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) commissioned the writing of a new set of 95 Theses for the 21st Century. With input from Lutheran church bodies around the world, these theses are first being presented at the CELC convention in July. Prof. Thomas Nass, who helped coordinate this project, will present a compilation of these 95 Theses at the synod convention.
  • Reformation 500 celebration: With the theme “our Great Heritage,” convention organizers have focused many aspects of the convention around the 500th anniversary of the reformation, including a special viewing of the film, A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy.

What does the proposed ministry financial plan look like?

Congregation Mission offerings (CMO) are the backbone of the synod’s ministry financial plan but have been flat for about 10 years.

As Todd Poppe, chief financial officer of WELS, explains, “The proposed ministry financial plan keeps WELS on solid financial ground, but projected near-flat Congregation Mission offerings when costs are increasing 3.5 percent could challenge WELS’ ability to maintain ministries beyond the 2017–19 biennium.”

In order to maintain existing ministry with these rising costs and flat revenue, the Synodical Council authorized a greater use of reserves in the ministry financial plan being presented for the upcoming biennium. of course, as these reserves are drawn down, funding future ministry becomes more difficult unless offerings increase.

“Congregational support has been the bedrock and foundation of our work together,” says Mark Schroeder, president of WELS. “It’s that support that has enabled us to prepare well-trained pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. It has made it possible for us to enter new world mission fields with the gospel. It has resulted in the planting of dozens of new home mission congregations in the past few years alone. As the cost of mission and ministry continues to increase—and as God continues to open new doors for the gospel—we pray that God will continue to move our members to grow in their joyful support of the work that we do together as a synod.”

What are the findings of the Compensation review Committee?

The 2015 synod in convention approved a resolution calling for a “thorough review” of the WELS Compensation Guidelines by the Compensation review Committee of the Synodical Council. Since the conclusion of the 2015 convention, the Compensation review Committee has met regularly to work on preparing a set of revised compensation guidelines for the 2017 convention.

“In the early stages of the project, the committee envisioned a radical reworking of the guidelines currently in place,” explains Prof. Earle Treptow, chairman of the Compensation review Committee. “The more we wrestled with the issues, however, the more we recognized the excellent work that had been done in putting together the current compensation guidelines. The problem has been that calling bodies haven’t consistently applied the guidelines.”

Once the committee arrived at that realization, the focus shifted away from a complete revision toward a modification of the current guidelines.

As Treptow notes, “Much of the inconsistency in applying the guidelines stemmed from a lack of understanding. So, the Compensation review Committee committed itself to repackaging the compensation guidelines in such a way that calling bodies would find them easier to apply. only slight modifications were made to the current guidelines, so the financial impact on the work we do together as a synod should be minimal.”

Dennis Maurer, director of WELS Human resources, believes that “the greatest result of this two-year project has been the emergence of a simplified tool for calling bodies to determine a fair and equitable compensation package for their called workers. WELS Technology created a user- friendly, web-based calculator to replace the existing Excel worksheet that Human resources provided to calling bodies working on called worker compensation. This called worker compensation calculator automates many of the tasks that previously required research and data entry on the user’s part.”

Treptow concludes by saying, “What the Compensation re- view Committee desires, above all else, is that calling bodies would approach compensation matters prayerfully, thought- fully, and carefully. We want calling bodies, through their leaders, to think about the gospel ministry being carried out in their midst. More specifically, we want them to reflect on the responsibilities entrusted to each worker, the time that is being invested in carrying out those responsibilities, and the additional education the worker has pursued. Instead of simply pulling a number from a matrix, the calling body can determine a salary based on knowledge of, and appreciation for, the important work the Lord’s servant is doing in their name.”

The synod convention floor committee assigned to review the Compensation review Committee’s recommendations will meet, discuss the committee’s recommendations, and then present one or more resolutions to the synod convention for consideration by all the delegates.

How can I learn more about the convention?


Visit to see who the nominees are for election; to read the Book of Reports and Memorials, which includes reports from all the areas of ministry and will guide delegates in their work at the convention; and to see a list of delegates and the floor committees on which they’re serving.


Plenary meetings, missionary presentations, and the opening worship service will be streamed live at other communication vehicles include:

Video news updates—At least two updates per day will inform WELS members about the important work and decisions being made at the convention and will feature interviews with key synod leaders and delegates.

Social media—WELS’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages will be active each day.

News articles—As decisions are made, articles will be posted to Each evening, an issue of “Together,” WELS’ e-newsletter, will be delivered to subscribers as a wrap-up of the day’s events and a look ahead to the next day.


A special issue of “Together” will be sent to subscribers to summarize the actions of the entire convention. Additional convention coverage will be included in the october editions of Forward in Christ and WELS Connection.

To subscribe to “Together,” visit subscribe.


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Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017

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