“Shoulder to shoulder in service.”
This phrase describes the Lutheran Military Support Group (LMSG), a new organization that is working closely with WELS Military Services and local congregations to strengthen the church’s ministry to the military.
“We are a national level organization designed to have national reach, but local impact,” says Philip Mowry, LMSG president. “We are designed to be both an auxiliary to WELS Military Services in their support of active duty service members as well as an independent organization supporting the needs of our military veterans and our military families of both active duty members and veterans.”
Run by a board of WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) veterans from across the country, the Lutheran Military Support Group is focusing on several national priorities:
• Providing logistical, financial, and educational support to WELS Military Services as it ministers to active duty military members. “As current and former military people, we bring a host of skills, relationships, and perspectives not generally found among civilian church leadership,” says Mowry, a member at Living Savior, Valrico, Fla., who served during the Gulf War.
• Helping address post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
• Supporting military families. “Not only are veteran family members supporting those who have served, but in a real and tangible way, military family members have also served, sacrificed, and suffered in their own right,” says Mowry. The group is looking to start an annual synodwide recognition day for those families as well as to help active military families in remote locations stay connected through, for example, catechism and Bible classes.
The LSMG is also working to create awareness and activity in local congregations. Its goal is to have a liaison—either an active military person, a veteran, or a military family member—in every WELS and ELS congregation who can help educate and encourage members. “We want our congregations through their liaisons to open their eyes and look around their congregations and community and say, ‘This is a mission opportunity we haven’t thought of before,’ ” says Mowry. “We’re driving awareness, which will stimulate individual congregational activity.” He notes that veterans and military families in the community may also notice this focus, which presents new outreach opportunities.
On a personal level, Mowry says this new organization has given him an opportunity to reconnect with his “military focus” since leaving the Air Force in 1999. “I’m loving the fact that after many years I’m re-engaging with it, and it is giving me a unique opportunity to help and be active in the church,” he says.
This group, he says, may also offer that same encouragement to other veterans. “Our new organization and its programs provide an opportunity to engage veterans, to reconnect them to their passion for serving others, which was developed through their military experience,” says Mowry. “And serving your Lord is as good as it gets.”
Discover more about the Lutheran Military Support Group, how to get involved, and tips on ministering to military members in your community at the group’s website, www.lutheranmilitary.org. Learn more about WELS Military Services, a part of WELS Special Ministries, at wels.net/military-services.
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Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015
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