Rev. Paul Prange, Rev. Duane Rodewald, and Rev. Richard Gurgel spoke to convention delegates Tuesday afternoon about the blessings and goals of WELS Ministerial Education as it prepares candidates for the public ministry as well as provides continuing education to those who are already serving.
Prange, administrator of the Board for Ministerial Education, highlighted the four schools that the synod supports: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis.; Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.; and Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., and Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., the synod’s two preparatory high schools. About 1,400 students attend the four schools, and 2,000 current ministers of the gospel are in continuing education courses provided by MLC and WLS.
Rodewald, chairman of the Board for Ministerial Education (BME), talked about a special task force that was recently created to improve the retention and better support men who are training to be pastors as a second or third career. “We recognize the challenges and unique sacrifices that need to be made,” says Rodewald about these students and their families. The task force will present its first report to the board in October.
After commenting on all the different educational areas the board maintains, Prange revealed another area the BME is focusing on: student educational debt, especially for MLC students.
Providing financial aid for MLC students is one of the three pillars of the ongoing “Equipping Christian Witnesses” (ECW) campaign. Rev. Richard Gurgel, MLC president, shared more with the delegates about this campaign, including that more than $7.5 million has already been donated or pledged. Construction also has begun on the Betty Kohn Fieldhouse, one of two facilities MLC is looking to build from donations to this campaign. Student recruitment is the final ECW goal. “ ‘Equipping Christian Witnesses’ is about building a foundation for years to come,” says Gurgel. “We want to renew and reinvigorate our investment as a synod to raise up future generations of faithful and qualified staff ministers, teachers, and pastors.” A video shown to delegates highlighted each pillar of the campaign, which will continue through June 30, 2022.
Following the presentations, delegates showed their support for the focus on reducing educational debt by approving a resolution that allows the WELS Ministry of Christian Giving and the MLC Mission Advancement office to continue to seek donors during and after the “Equipping Christian Witnesses” campaign who are willing to make major gifts to MLC student financial assistance.
Watch a video to learn more about “Equipping Christian Witnesses” or visit mlc-wels.edu/mlc-campaign.