Tag Archive for: Called to Prepare 2023

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Pictured above: “Here am I, send me!” On May 27, 2022, 26 men graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis., and began their pastoral ministries.

WLS prepares men to begin pastoral ministry by providing them with spiritual, theological, and professional training. Students attend classes for two years, serve as full-time vicars during their third year, and then attend classes and write a thesis in their fourth year. Throughout their time at the seminary, students receive opportunities to serve in a variety of ministries and to experience other cultures to help prepare them for their future calls.

The seminary also provides pastors with opportunities for continued growth in all their callings through its institute, Grow in Grace. Grow in Grace offers continuing education courses, a mentoring initiative for new graduates, a clearinghouse of resources for pastors, and an annual retreat for pastors who are celebrating milestones in their ministries.

For more information, visit wls.wels.net.


Vicaring in Toronto

Jeremiah Wallander spent his vicar year serving Hope, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Here he’s pictured with a student at Hope’s summer music camp. Each seminary student spends an internship year as a “vicar,” learning and serving under experienced pastors in mission-minded congregations. In 2022–23, 28 students were assigned as vicars.


Studying in San Diego

When Mark Jiang (pictured middle) first came to Reformation, San Diego, Calif., he was interested in the congregation’s school. But soon, he joined the congregation and thought about becoming a pastor himself. That’s when he met David Choi, an Evangelical Lutheran Synod seminary student who served as a vicar at Reformation. Choi, who also grew up in China, encouraged Mark to pursue the public ministry.

Mark began taking courses in 2020 through WELS’ Pastoral Studies Institute, which provides seminary training to students from a variety of countries and cultures. He and Choi studied together throughout the year.

“It was a very good chance for me to learn with Vicar Choi,” says Mark. “He helped teach me the Foundations 101 class in Mandarin, then we went through again and reviewed it in English. It was good for us to look into the English verse or Greek verse and use different languages to help us gather the meaning of the Bible.”

Mark appreciates that he is able to complete some of his seminary training in person with the pastors at Reformation, in addition to taking courses with Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professors via Zoom.

“It is a pleasure for me to learn God’s Word,” Mark says. “I am very thankful to my teachers for giving me the right teaching from God, and I am happy I can put what I learn into practice and share the good news with other brothers and sisters. I hope to have many chances to serve and help people, and I hope God gives me the strength to do this.”

Also pictured are (left) Neil Birkholz, WELS’ North American Asian ministry consultant; and David Choi.

What is the Pastoral Studies Institute?

The Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) guides and assists spiritual leaders around the world through preseminary and seminary training. Team members spend much of their time visiting and teaching PSI students. Harland Goetzinger accepted the call to be the director of the PSI in fall 2022.


Teaching catechism

Nathaniel Wranovsky, a second-year student at WLS, is helping teach catechism at Crown of Life, Hubertus, Wis. Students participate in a number of hands-on ministry experiences throughout their time at the seminary.







Martin Luther College

Pictured above: Richard Gurgel, president of Martin Luther College, installs Nathan Savage as a tutor for the college. Savage graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in May 2022.


Parker Brown, a senior preseminary student from Conroe, Texas, preaching at MLC’s evening chapel.

Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.:

  • prepares men for pastoral training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary;
  • prepares men and women for service as teachers and staff ministers in the synod’s churches, schools, and other institutions;
  • prepares men and women for other church ministries, both full- and part-time, responding to the needs of WELS;
  • prepares international students for ministry in partnership with WELS mission fields; and
  • provides programs of continuing education that meet the ministerial needs of WELS.

On July 1, 2022, Martin Luther College launched a new strategic plan to direct the college’s work for years to come. Richard Gurgel, president of MLC, explains that Pursuing Excellence Under the Cross has three foundational beliefs and four key initiatives.

Foundational beliefs:

  • We pursue excellence not as slaves but as loved children under Christ’s cross.
  • We pursue excellence by offering him our best with the unique talents given to each of us.
  • We pursue excellence under our cross by dying to mediocrity and rising with the courage to risk all for the gospel.

Key initiatives:

  • We embrace our family’s identity as a Lutheran college dedicated to preparing gospel ministers for our synod and its mission fields.
  • We empower our family’s formation as we help everyone grow spiritually and academically while also supporting emotional and physical health.
  • We expand our family’s reach as we reflect the multicultural reality of the Church before Christ in eternity.
  • We endow our family’s home as we make MLC more affordable while providing an excellent college experience.

For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu.


Did you know?

In 2022–23, Martin Luther College awarded a total of almost $1.25 million to its students through the Congregational Partner Grant Program. This program encourages congregations to support members who attend MLC. MLC then matches up to $1,200/student ($1,325 in 2023–24) in the form of a grant to offset tuition costs. For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu/cpgp.



In 2022–23, Martin Luther College is serving 629 undergraduates, representing 29 states and 5 countries as well as 897 continuing education students.


Evangelism Day

Nov. 9, 2022, was Evangelism Day at MLC. Twenty-six electives offered students the opportunity to learn more about evangelism strategies in the United States and around the world. Pictured is Jim Rademan, director of WELS Lutheran Schools, presenting on the topic “Blessings, opportunities, and challenges . . . a look at WELS schools in 2022 and beyond.”





Cultural Engagement Center

Paul Wang, a Chinese international student at MLC, reading books about the Mid-Autumn Festival to students at the MLC Early Childhood Learning Center in September 2022.







Class of 2022

One hundred seventy students graduated from Martin Luther College on May 14, 2022. Pictured is Richard Gurgel, college president, presenting a diploma to Emily Flatau, who received an assignment to serve as an early childhood education teacher at Resurrection, Aurora, Ill.







Preparatory Schools

Pictured above are four LPS students; ELFK president, Michael Herbst (third from left); and Phetsanghane (fourth from left).

Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., and Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., prepare high school students for future service as pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. Both schools offer “Taste of Ministry” opportunities for students, which include shadowing called workers to learn more about their work. Students also are given firsthand gospel experiences on campus and during mission trips. Here are two examples of how the preparatory schools are offering students hands-on ministry experiences.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary

“When the Board for Home Missions announced the initiative to open 100 new missions in 10 years, at Michigan Lutheran Seminary we contemplated how we could play an even larger role in providing workers for those ripe harvest fields,” says Mark Luetzow, MLS president. “We quickly recognized that those future missionaries were already on our campus. That’s why we partnered with Home Missions to place this year’s senior boys who desired a pastor Taste of Ministry into mission settings.”

A total of 10 MLS seniors traveled to mission settings across the United States for a long weekend in October. Pictured are three of those young men and the home missionaries that they shadowed at the South Central District’s annual missionaries conference. From left: Andrew Nemmers, Hope in the Heights, Houston; Jason Hanania; Daron Lindemann, CrossLife, Pflugerville; Ryan Dabe; Hans Thomford, Amazing Grace, Amarillo; and Will Eubank.

Jason commented, “This was an awesome experience. I was already thinking of being a pastor, but this experience settled it for me.”

For more information about MLS, visit mlsem.org.


Luther Preparatory School

Luther Preparatory School senior Ethan Schmidt giving chapel in fall 2022. Senior males are given this opportunity to work with a dean to prepare a message from God’s Word for the student body.

In June 2022, Souksamay Phetsanghane, a professor at LPS, took four students to visit WELS’ sister church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church—Germany (ELFK). Students worked with a congregation there to present a joint English/German worship service. They also attended and sang at the synod’s convention.

“Traveling to Germany with Pastor Souk and getting to know Pastor Drechsler and the members of his congregation showed me the importance of keeping in touch with our fellow synods,” says Sandra Toyoda-Bell, now studying at Martin Luther College to be a teacher. “This trip gave me the experience to practice my German in real-life settings and a teacher who encouraged us to engage in conversations with the people there and witness how God is working through the church in Germany.”

For more information about LPS, visit lps.wels.net.