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Christian Aid and Relief

In January 2015, Malawi experienced floods that destroyed the homes of many families of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Malawi (LCCA), WELS’ sister synod. Initial aid included supplies for temporary housing.

The floods also washed away the families’ crops, so (the staple food of Malawi) to an estimated 4,700 LCCA families in 21 different areas. National pastors oversaw the distribution and conducted devotions and prayers with the families receiving the donations.

Mr. Mark Vance, director of operations for Christian Aid and Relief, wrote: “As I watch the trucks get loaded with their 40 kilogram bags of maize, I say to myself, ‘That is a lot of maize.’ But when we get out to the villages and the families get their 20 kilograms (which is about a medium-sized bucketful), I say, ‘That seems like so little.’

“As I relayed this thought to one of the Malawian pastors, he said, ‘You must remember, ten minutes ago this family had no maize, and they don’t have much money at all to buy maize. Now they have more than they had, and it was given freely to them. This is a huge blessing to them, and to know that this gift of love and compassion came from their Lutheran brothers and sisters from around the world is for many of them more than their emotions can handle.’ ”

Worship

  • Preach the Word, a publication for pastors, began a new series on preaching to Millennials. In 2015 this publication, along with Worship the Lord, became available in blog format at blogs.wels.net/worship.
  • Sixty pastors, teachers, and laypeople are currently volunteering their time to work on the Hymnal Project. The work has transitioned from laying foundations to deciding actual content—lectionary, hymns, psalms, liturgies. For more information, see welshymnal.com.
  • Presentations from past worship conferences are available at worship.welsrc.net. Some may be valuable for discussions by worship committees or boards of elders.

Lutheran Schools

The Commission on Lutheran Schools continues to support the work of 524 WELS schools with an overall PreK-12 enrollment of 41,138. Leadership initiatives were the focus of the work of Lutheran Schools in 2015.

Photo Caption: Three guests from China attended the WELS National School Leadership Conference in Pewaukee, Wis., in June. The visitors are opening a Lutheran school in our fellowship in Shanghai. They attended the conference to network with more than 400 other Lutheran educators and to find best practices for their school.

Adult Discipleship

  • Adult Discipleship continues to coordinate the online Interactive Faith Bible studies series. In 2015, classes were held on the prophet Elisha and the book of Judges.
  • Marriage enrichment retreats continue to be offered across the country. To find locations and dates, visit wels.net/adult-discipleship.
  • As Adult Discipleship works with congregations, it links the work of its WELS Women’s Ministry Committee to the people it serves. To learn more about this committee and its resources, visit wels.net/women.

Evangelism

  • Evangelism’s Daily Devotions are sent to nearly 10,000 e-mail subscribers and are available through WhatAboutJesus.com, wels.net, and the WELS Mobile App.
  •  My Son, My Savior was released in October 2015. This outreach film focuses on the birth, life, and ministry of Jesus told from the viewpoint of his mother, Mary, as she grows in her understanding that her son is also her Savior. The main message for all viewers is that Jesus is their Savior, too. During Advent, congregations and individuals purchased more than 75,000 DVDs and made use of the many complementary materials based on the movie. This is the third in a series of four outreach movies that are planned as a collaboration between WELS Commissions on Evangelism and Adult Discipleship, Northwestern Publishing House, WELS Multi-Language Publications, and Boettcher+Trinklein Television, Inc.
  • Did you know?In 2015, an average of more than 23,000 visitors per month accessed WhatAboutJesus.com, an outreach website produced by the Commission on Evangelism.

Youth and Family Ministry

  • The Commission on Youth and Family Ministry spent 2015 planning for and testing a new Schools of Youth and Family, a project aimed at helping congregations plan and implement ministry opportunities for children, teens, parents, and families.
  • Youth and Family Ministry continues to produce the popular Kids Connection video series, which is viewed in WELS elementary and Sunday schools. The purpose of the series to help kids “stay connected to Jesus.”

Special Ministries

  • Veterans from WELS and our sister church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, have formed an organization called Lutheran Military Support Group to support the work of WELS Military Services and—on the local level—to help military families.
  • WELS Prison Ministry continues to add new Bible study courses for inmates to its resources. One prisoner recently wrote, “Thank you so very much for allowing me to participate in this Bible study course. I cannot express how much joy it brings me to study the Word of our Lord and to feel myself being drawn closer to his love. Your materials have been a great help and comfort to me at a time in my life that I have so desperately needed it.”
  • Freedom for the Captives, a Special Ministries team, launched a new website, freedomforcaptives.com, with resources for survivors of child sexual abuse and for churches and their leaders who desire to minister faithfully when cases of such abuse become known.

Ministry of Christian Giving

  • WELS Ministry of Christian Giving developed a new congregational planned giving manual to help churches jump-start a program of promoting planned giving opportunities to members. Christian giving counselors are available to every church to provide members free, confidential assistance with planned gifts and Christian estate planning.
  • The Ministry of Christian Giving is coordinating the “One in Christ” offering to eliminate the synod’s $4.7 million debt by June 2016—two years ahead of schedule. If successful by God’s grace, the campaign will put WELS in a better financial position to train workers and establish missions at home and abroad.

Technology

The WELSTech Conference held in June was attended by 250 people and featured 100 workshop sessions, three keynotes, and an IGNITE session where conference participants shared how technology is helping them in their ministries. One group of attendees from the Milwaukee, Wis., area is now meeting quarterly to continue some of the “technology in ministry” conversations.

Did you know? WELS Mobile, available for Apple, Android, and Amazon users, has been installed on 20,000 devices. The WELS App lets users listen to or read daily devotions and Bible readings as well as access WELS news, videos, and radio stations.