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Christian Aid and Relief

Rev. Dan Sims became the first full-time director of WELS Christian Aid and Relief in July 2020. Sims (left) is pictured here with a couple that was helped by Christian Aid and Relief in August after strong storms blew through Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Having a pastor serve full time in this position will allow more time to develop an intensive program—including a printed training manual and video materials—to prepare and train congregations and their leaders in disaster response before a disaster hits. Another goal is to establish and equip disaster relief coordinators in each district to assess and oversee local disaster response.

But Sims wants to do more than just respond to disasters; he wants to create a compassionate spirit in WELS congregations to help those who are suffering in their communities. He says that not only does that follow Christ’s command to “do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10), but also “if [the neighborhood residents] can see WELS congregations and people as caring and active in helping with physical needs, then we gain more opportunities to talk with them about their spiritual needs and their Savior.”

For more information, visit wels.net/relief.

 


WELS Communication Services

WELS Communication Services helped coordinate synod resources to keep WELS congregations, schools, and members informed on how COVID-19 was affecting ministries and resources to help them adapt during the pandemic. All the information was featured on wels.net under the title “As we face COVID-19.”

Forward in Christ, WELS’ official monthly magazine, launched its redesigned magazine in January 2020. Taking into account answers and comments from the reader survey that Forward in Christ conducted in 2019, the magazine now includes new columns, old favorites, and a fresh design, all presented to help 21st-century Christians grow in their faith. Forward in Christ also debuted a new website as well as Facebook and Instagram pages. For more information, visit forwardinchrist.net.

 


WELS 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. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Ministry of Christian Giving has continued assisting members with their Christian giving goals via phone meetings, web conferencing, and in-person visits.

WELS Ministry of Christian Giving has been involved with Martin Luther College’s “Equipping Christian Witnesses” campaign to recruit more called workers, increase tuition assistance, and build needed facilities so that WELS will have more called workers to meet growing worldwide ministry opportunities. Just over $5 million in gifts, pledges, and commitments had been received as of late 2020.

To request free, confidential assistance with a gift to your church, synod, or WELS-affiliated ministry, visit wels.net/Christian-giving or call 800-827-5482.

 


Technology

In 2020, WELS Technology helped pastors, teachers, and synod workers at the Center for Mission and Ministry adjust their work during the pandemic. WELS Technology helped lead the conversation on topics such as livestreaming and video conferencing options and how technology can help advance ministry, especially during a time when large groups of Christians can’t meet in person. Pictured is Timothy Walsh presenting a Facebook Live devotion in spring 2020 when he served as a vicar at Grace, Falls Church, Va.

 

 

Congregational Services

Pictured above:
WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools has been working with teachers and other school leaders to help navigate the quickly-changing landscape of education during COVID-19. WELS schools are still committed to providing a strong Christian education for their students. New schools are even continuing to open. Pictured are teachers from Divine Savior Academy–Santa Rita Ranch, Liberty Hill, Texas, on the first day of this new school in August 2020.


Website offers resources and training modules

WELS Congregational Services offers resources and training modules for congregations at welscongregationalservices.net. This year, new resources include:

  • Congregational Evangelism Kit: Video-based training for congregational evangelism leaders to ensure that a congregation has a solid foundation to reach the lost in its community.
  • Youth ministry made simple: Video and print resources that offer straightforward tips for starting an effective yet simple youth ministry.
  • C20—The greatest gift: This Christmas outreach program provides materials for congregations to invite neighbors to Christmas Eve services.
  • Acoustics and audio for worship: Learn what factors need to be considered when creating a worship environment that enhances the spoken word and allows for dynamic singing as well as takes into consideration those who need hearing assistance.
  • COVID-19—For such a time as this: Articles and resources to assist pastors and congregations as they serve their members and communities during the pandemic. A follow-up resource titled “Resuming worship in a pandemic” was also shared.

 


Military Services

The Christian Service Members’ Handbook was developed by WELS Special Ministries, the Lutheran Military Support Group, and Northwestern Publishing House to help those in the military stay strong in their faith in places where a pastor or fellow believer might not be available. The book is divided into five sections—prayer, meditations and devotions, Scriptures, hymns, and the Small Catechism. Military members can receive this book—and other spiritual resources—for free by filling out a referral form at wels.net/refer.

 


Online faith-building resources grow

In 2020, WELS Discipleship began offering a variety of new resources to help members grow in their faith.

  • Family devotions: Offered three times per week, these devotions coincide with the previous Sunday’s Bible readings. In addition to Scripture, each devotion includes a set of questions for different age groups, a prayer, and hymn verses that can be sung or spoken. They are available at wels.net/family-devotions.
  • Marriage moments: This new series of videos explores one marriage thought per week as well as a question or exercise “for further thought”—all in two minutes or less. For more information or to subscribe, visit welscongregationalservices.net/marriage-moments.
  • Youth Bible study—Focused living in Christ: Rev. Joel Russow has written a new four-part Bible study for teens based on Colossians 3:12-15 that includes video lessons. Find the study at wels.net/youth-ministry.

New hymnal resources introduced

A new website, christianworship.com, was launched in January 2020 to share details about the new Christian Worship hymnal. The site highlights features of the upcoming hymnal as well as the suite of resources that will accompany it. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated new resource is Christian Worship: Service Builder, a powerful software tool that will save worship planners and staff members considerable time as they design worship services. Visit christianworship.com to watch videos and learn more about the new hymnal and the many new resources that will complement it.

 


Did you know?

Daily devotions continue to be delivered to the e-mail inboxes of more than 11,000 people each weekday. Thousands more read the devotions on wels.net or via the WELS Facebook page.

 

2020 Leadership Conference

WELS Congregational Services hosted the first ever WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership in Chicago, Jan. 21–23, 2020. Approximately 800 people—including both called workers and lay members, representing about 350 WELS congregations—met to hear five plenary speakers and attend a selection of breakout sessions.

“The focus of the conference was that we want to do all we can with the gospel to serve Christ’s mission,” says Rev. Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services. “ ‘Doing all we can with the gospel’ requires leaders to focus on two things. First, we look at tactics. Is the way we are carrying out gospel ministry smart?”

He continues, “But underneath tactics is congregational culture. The group—the collective—needs to have the right thoughts, habits, and attitudes. That was what the plenaries were all about.”

Attendees were treated to a preview of the new hymnal, set to be released by Advent 2021. Maintaining the name Christian Worship, the new hymnal comprises a suite of resources, including a stand-alone psalter, musical arrangements for various instrumentation, and a service folder builder. Conference worship services and devotions used liturgical and hymn arrangements from the new hymnal.

The conference planning committee is exploring options for a second WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership, likely sometime in 2022. Learn more and watch videos of select presentations at lutheranleadership.com.