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Discipleship

Responding to God’s grace

In 2019, WELS Commission on Discipleship unveiled a new congregational stewardship program called 10 for 10. After three weeks of preaching and teaching on the topic of giving, congregation members are asked to contemplate if they are able to give one-tenth of their income to the Lord for ten straight weeks—hence the name 10 for 10. This is based on the Old Testament practice of tithing.

Rev. Donn Dobberstein, director of WELS Discipleship, explains that the goal of 10 for 10 is much greater than amassing gifts. “10 for 10 is not a church fundraising program,” he says. “It is a gospel-centered stewardship emphasis that asks people to consider how to respond to all of the many graces that God has shown to them.”

10 for 10 opens the conversation on the often difficult topic of money in a Christ-like manner.

“Jesus talked often about money because he knew the vicelike grip it can have on our hearts as it seeks to replace him as our greatest treasure,” Dobberstein says. “When it came to money, Jesus was blunt. He was bold. 10 for 10 strives to mirror Jesus’ biblical boldness.”

WELS congregations began to implement this stewardship program in the fall of 2019. Worship materials, midweek devotions, Sunday sermons, PowerPoint slides, videos, letters, and more can be downloaded for free at welscongregationalservices.net/10-for-10


Women’s Ministry

More than 300 WELS women from 17 different states gathered at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., for the Women’s Ministry Conference from July 18-20, 2019. The event’s theme—“Living Stones: Positioned to Thrive”—explored God’s design and purpose for Christian women. A dozen breakout sessions and four keynote presentations discussed additional topics such as teamwork, evangelism, family, and more. Pictured: Marilyn Miller.

Evangelism

WELS Commission on Evangelism built off of the success of the 2018 synodwide outreach campaign and designed a new campaign for 2019. Known as C19, the initiative included resources to encourage and equip congregations to invite the unchurched to worship for Christmas 2019. One highlight of the campaign was the social media video that WELS congregations and members could share to highlight worship service dates and times. New in 2019 were resources to offer a Christmas service for those with special needs.

Worship

The New Christian Worship

The new WELS hymnal is scheduled to be released by Advent 2021. Between 15 to 17 books and 3 digital products will accompany the hymnal, according to Rev. Michael Schultz, director of the WELS Hymnal Project.

To begin introducing this hymnal to WELS members, the WELS Hymnal Project is releasing a preview booklet at the January 2020 WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership. Each congregation also will receive multiple copies of the booklet. A formal Hymnal Introduction Program will start at the same time, offering introductions to the products that are coming out, ideas for introducing the hymnal to members, as well as tips for funding. New hymnal materials also will be highlighted and featured at the WELS national worship conference in 2021.

“Check out christianworship.com to get an excellent taste of our forthcoming hymnal and its supportive resources,” encourages Rev. Bryan Gerlach, the director of WELS Commission on Worship. “It’s been a great joy to work with many talented and committed volunteers who are preparing the complete ‘hymnal suite.’ As our 1993 hymnal and 2008 hymnal supplement brought us many new hymns that became dearly loved, we can expect the same from our new hymnal. But, of course, the best of the old favorites will also be included. I’m especially excited about Christian Worship: Service Builder—a powerful software tool that will save pastors and church offices a ton of time and produce professional quality in design of worship folders.”

For more information, visit christianworship.com.

Lutheran Schools

School Leaders

The 21st-Century Lutheran Principal Initiative helps to address the growing need for school leaders and involves cohorts of experienced teachers going through three years of training with the Commission on Lutheran Schools and Martin Luther College. The first cohort is scheduled to complete its training in 2020. The second and third cohorts have begun their training, and a fourth cohort is being recruited.

The Early Childhood Emerging Leader cohort is a similar program designed for current early childhood teachers willing to train to serve as early childhood directors. This year-long cohort includes professional development, a project in their current ministry applying leadership skills, support from an experienced early childhood director as their mentor, and monthly teleconferences covering practical topics related to the role of early childhood director. Six individuals completed the 2018–19 cohort in June.

Pictured above: Members of the first cohort of the 21st-Century Lutheran Principal Initiative meet for training with their mentors and instructors at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry.


Early Childhood Education

On Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, Katie Kubat and her four children were baptized by Rev. John Melke (left) at Good Shepherd, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Katie has enrolled three children in Good Shepherd’s 3K ministry. Katie is currently attending Bible information class with Melke. Also pictured is Rev. Paul Tullberg.


WELS EdTechLead Summit

The WELS Education, Technology, and Leadership Summit (EdTechLead) brought more than 400 teachers, pastors, and other synod leaders together at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., from June 25-27, 2019, to explore ministry tools, techniques, and best practices. The conference was a joint effort of the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools and WELS Technology.

Special Ministries

Prison Ministry

Wanda Markland (pictured, far left), warden of the South Dakota Women’s Prison, introduced WELS Prison Ministry materials to the inmates. Some are available to read in the library, and many can be taken for free—if the women get there fast enough. Amanda, an inmate working in the library, says that sometimes they have to fill the free rack two times or more a day with booklets from WELS Prison Ministry.

When asked what the books mean to her, inmate Katherine responded: “Everything.” The books have enabled her to understand the Bible. Others replied that the books help them to know that they are loved, they are not alone, and they are growing in their spiritual life. One inmate was even led to request baptism.

These women, who rejoice in the good news that they are forgiven, took up a collection from their meager funds and sent a donation to WELS Prison Ministry so that more people could benefit from hearing God’s good news through these materials.

Did you know?

WELS Prison Ministry administers an extensive ministry-by-mail program and provides training opportunities for laypeople and pastors who would like to begin a local jail or prison ministry. Hundreds of volunteers manage this ministry-by-mail program that has reached more than 70,000 inmates.


Military Services

WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastors serving military families met in May 2019 for the Military Contact Pastors Retreat at Risen Savior, Chula Vista, Calif., near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Under the theme “Serving those who serve our country,” the presentations provided insights into the unique challenges of the military lifestyle during and after deployment and how to reach military members and their families with the gospel. WELS Military Services, a part of WELS Special Ministries, supports servicemen and women with devotions and other spiritual care. Refer a military member at wels.net/refer.

Christian Aid and Relief

WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved $466,212 for humanitarian aid work in fiscal year 2019–20.

Rev. Robert Hein, chairman of Christian Aid and Relief, says, “Humanitarian aid projects help our missions put Christ’s love into action by meeting community needs. As missionaries develop relationships with the people they serve, they also find opportunities to tell people about Jesus. In some world mission fields, hostile to Christianity, humanitarian aid is essential to keep the doors open to share the gospel.”

All projects originate in the mission fields as the missionaries discover opportunities to help. Then the projects are brought to the Christian Aid and Relief administrative committee as well as to the WELS Missions administrators for approval. Pictured is a project at Hope, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that welcomes new immigrants to the area.

To view a complete list of humanitarian aid projects as well as relief projects, visit wels.net/relief.

Ministry of Christian Giving

WELS Ministry of Christian Giving serves on behalf of the Conference of Presidents to encourage every WELS member to “excel in the grace of giving” through Christ. In 2019 the Ministry of Christian Giving coordinated campaigns for several areas of ministry including Congregational Services’ “For the Generations to Come,” World Missions’ “Grace-Hmong outreach in Vietnam,” and Martin Luther College’s “Equipping Christian Witnesses.”

Christian Giving also refreshed its congregational planned giving manual and mailed a copy to every congregation to help church leaders share with members ways to support gospel ministry through planned gifts.

In 2018-19, WELS Christian giving counselors made 280 presentations to WELS congregations on topics such as smart Christian giving, will planning, and WELS ministry efforts.

To request free, confidential assistance with a gift, visit wels.net/Christian-giving or call 800-827-5482.

Communication Services

WELS Communication Services helped coordinate WELS’ 65th biennial convention. It also kept the synod informed about the events of the convention through its various communications platforms. Some of those platforms include “Together,” an e-newsletter and video update; WELS’ Facebook page, facebook.com/welslutherans; wels.net, WELS’ official website; and Forward in Christ, WELS’ official monthly magazine.