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WELS Benefit Plans Office

WELS Benefit Plans serves WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) workers and organizations through administration of the WELS Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) Health Plan, the WELS Pension Plan, and the WELS Shepherd Plan.

The WELS VEBA Health Plan provides benefits for church and school workers in accordance with God’s Word while remaining compliant with the federal health care reform law. The plan provides comprehensive, nationwide coverage. More than 80 percent of WELS workers and calling bodies participate in WELS VEBA.

The WELS Pension Plan provides WELS called workers with a valuable source of guaranteed income during retirement.

The WELS Shepherd Plan provides workers the opportunity to save and invest a portion of their earnings to provide income during their retirement years.

One important advantage of participating in WELS Benefit Plans is that the coverage and benefits provided are uniform throughout all 50 states. This supports the WELS ministry and call process because worker call decisions are not influenced by health insurance and retirement benefit decisions.

Visit welsbpo.net for more information. 

WELS Investment Funds, Inc.

WELS Investment Funds  is a self-supporting subsidiary of WELS. Its mission is to provide cost-effective, professionally managed investment portfolios exclusively for WELS-affiliated ministries. By pooling investment resources through WELS Investment Funds, congregations can take advantage of lower cost, institutional priced investment alternatives that would not otherwise be available.

WELS Investment Funds currently manages more than $200 million in assets, which includes $48 million for 180 congregations and 20 WELS-affiliated ministries.

Visit wels.net/welsfunds for more information. 

Northwestern Publishing House

Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) provides Christ-centered, biblically sound resources to the people of WELS and beyond. NPH publishes Forward in Christ and Meditations, elementary and Sunday school curricula, Bible studies, worship materials, music, and faith strengthening books for WELS members. In 2018, NPH released a total of more than 50 Christian resources in print and digital formats, including:

  • Growing in the Word and Growing in Grace, two catechism curricula designed to incorporate Bible history into catechism instruction;
  • We Still Believe and Confess, a Bible study that takes a careful look at the Lutheran Confessions;
  • a popular prayer collection—There’s a Prayer for That—that has sold more than 7,000 copies to date;
  • several titles intended to reach a broad audience, such as Ten Things to Tell Your Grandkids Because You Love them So Much, From Dirty to Dancing: God’s Grace for Those Struggling With Pornography, and Look Up From Your Phone So I Can Love You;
  • Christmas and Lent service kits for churches;
  • a vacation Bible school program; and
  • 17 music offerings for organ, piano, and choir.

In September, NPH closed its store location and now offers its merchandise solely online at nph.net and through its displays at select conferences and events. NPH’s website saw nearly 60,000 visitors in July, August, and September alone, more than 50 percent of whom were new visitors. The staff at NPH continually tests and adjusts the site’s design and organization to provide the most intuitive and pleasant shopping experience for customers.

Visit nph.net to learn more.

WELS Foundation

WELS Foundation exists to help God’s people support gospel ministry through WELS. WELS Foundation currently administers more than 1,200 donor directed planned gifts including endowment funds, donor advised funds, and gifts that provide income payments to the donor and/or their family members and loved ones. These planned gifts, generally established with the assistance of a WELS Christian giving counselor, benefit WELS congregations, schools, missions, and other affiliated ministries.

In 2018, WELS Foundation was privileged to distribute $5.7 million in gifts to various WELS ministries. This included $1.84 million to WELS ministerial education schools and $480,000 to WELS Missions.

Visit wels.net/foundation for more information.

WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc.

WELS Church Extension Fund (WELS CEF) provides financing through loans and grants to mission congregations so they can acquire land and ministry facilities to be used for gospel outreach in coordination with WELS Home Missions. WELS CEF also provides loans to self-supporting WELS congregations and schools for land and facility projects. The money to carry out CEF’s mission comes from investments and gifts from WELS members, congregations, and affiliated organizations.

In fiscal year 2017–18, $26.7 million of new loans and $2.3 million of new
grants were approved to mission and mission-minded self-supporting congregations. In addition, WELS CEF provided a grant of $837,070 to the Board for Home Missions from its annual unrestricted net asset grant program. WELS CEF ended fiscal year 2018 with assets of $208.3 million and net assets of $104.3 million. Three thousand four hundred WELS members invested $101.6 million. The loan portfolio held $159.4 million in 208 loans to congregations and affiliates.

For more information, visit wels.net/cef.

 

WELS Church Extension Fund has supported Beautiful Savior, Lakewood Ranch, Fla., with grants and lower-interest loans to help the congregation build its worship facility and early childhood center.

WELS Church Extension Fund provided a loan to Atonement, Milwaukee, Wis., that helped the self-supporting mission-minded congregation build an addition to alleviate crowding in its school’s classrooms. Before the space was even complete, some teachers began taking advantage of the extra room to spread out for certain projects.