About our Father’s business

About our Father’s business

Mark G. Schroeder

It happens every two years. Four hundred people from all over the country, and some from overseas, travel to one of our synodical schools. They are farmers and factory workers, accountants and architects, pastors and teachers. The group includes millennials and retirees, and every age in between. It’s a diverse crowd to be sure, but one whose members have several important things in common. They have faith in their Savior. They are committed to carrying out his mission. And they have the trust of those who have asked them to represent them.

I’m referring, of course, to the biennial convention of our synod. It will take place at the end of July at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Mich. There, convention delegates will gather to worship, to engage in brotherly debate, to hold elections, and to make prayerful decisions that will shape the nature and direction of the work that we do together as a synod.

Some have jokingly observed that the best conventions are boring conventions. That observation is not meant to imply that any convention is truly boring. There can be no boredom as the four hundred delegates gather for the opening service—a worship service so moving that no one who attends ever forgets it. There can be no real boredom when the reports of God’s abundant blessings on our ministries are shared with the delegates and certainly no boredom upon hearing the exciting opportunities that God continues to give to us.

Who could be bored when hearing personal accounts of missionaries serving in faraway places, as they share the stories of people from every tribe, language, and nation brought into God’s kingdom by the power of Word and sacrament? How could it ever be boring to hear how God uses weak and sinful people like us to be his workers and witnesses, united in a common faith and joined in a common mission? These things are evident at every convention, and they combine to make boredom impossible.

Sometimes no major issues threaten to fracture our unity; no huge problems face us that cause us to lose sleep at night and worry for the future of the synod. Some conventions feature no floor debates that cause delegates to lash out in anger, frustration, or bitterness. If that is what is meant by boring, then it’s true that the best convention is a boring convention. We can pray for that kind of boredom.

So in July we will gather again around God’s Word and in his name for another convention. But it’s not just a meeting. There we will elect those who will serve on our behalf. We will adopt a ministry financial plan (budget) that outlines how we will use the resources that God makes available to us. We will make decisions and pass resolutions. We will hear reports of the gospel being proclaimed and the Spirit

at work. There we will pray that God would keep us faithful to his Word and that he would bless the work we do in his name. And as the delegates are about their Father’s business, fellow believers will be praying that God would grant delegates wisdom and courage.

Anything but boring, this convention promises, like all previous conventions, to be an opportunity to marvel at God’s continuing grace and love for his church.

The synod convention takes place July 27–30. Follow convention coverage that week at



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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 102, Number 7
Issue: July 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us


One in Christ, Synod Convention 2015

July 2015 WELS’ 63rd biennial convention is being held at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., July 27–30, under the theme “One in Christ.”

Why is a convention important?

Mark Schroeder, WELS president, shares his perspective on the significance of holding a synod convention every other year.

The synod convention provides the opportunity for genuine grassroots input and decision-making when it comes to the work that we do together as a synod. Delegates representing congregations across the synod come together to adopt a ministry financial plan (or budget), which describes in detail how we will use the financial resources God provides to carry out his work. The convention sets the priorities and charts the direction of all of our mission and educational activities.

The convention is an opportunity to look back and review the work that God has enabled us to accomplish. Reports from every area of ministry will highlight the blessings that God has provided. We will hear of the gospel’s spread in foreign lands, the establishment of new mission congregations in the United States and Canada, the training of future called workers at our synodical schools, and countless other efforts to assist congregations in carrying out the work that they do.

Gathering together at the convention gives WELS members an opportunity to look ahead to the opportunities and challenges facing us. The convention adopts both long-range and short-range plans and goals, and then entrusts that work to the blessing that God will provide.

The convention is a time to choose people who will serve and represent all of us in positions of leadership and responsibility. From chairmen of various boards, commissions, and committees, to the president and vice presidents, delegates will prayerfully entrust people to make decisions on behalf of us and see to it that our common mission is carried out faithfully.

Convention delegates and their committees address major issues, some practical and some theological. They also respond to “memorials,” which are requests from individuals or groups to take specific action on a specific subject.

The convention is a time for celebration and thanksgiving—of the blessings that God has provided, such as continuing faithfulness to his Word, unity in our doctrine and practice, and the continuing opportunity to preach Christ crucified to a dying world.

What are the highlights of the proposed budget?

Todd Poppe, WELS chief financial officer, shares a summary of the proposed ministry financial plan (budget) that delegates will examine at the convention.

With Congregation Mission Offering (CMO) levels uncertain, the Synodical Council recommended that synod support funding remain flat at fiscal year (FY) 2015 levels for each year of the upcoming biennium. For most areas, this proved challenging, with modest wage increases and expected increases in insurance and other fees over the next biennium. To accommodate these increases, certain areas plan to use approximately $1.2 million more in reserves than what is expected to be used in FY15 or to use additional funding sources to sustain ongoing ministry. Other critical assumptions include retirement of the synod debt in FY16 and a draw down of the Financial Stabilization Fund of nearly $1 million by the end of FY17 based on planned support, needs, and the debt retirement.

Historical levels of CMO have been relatively flat to slightly declining since their peak of $21.4 million in 2007. CMO 2015 subscriptions are $20.9 million or 2.5 percent below receipts from 2007. CMO is planned to increase 1 percent for calendar years 2016 and 2017. CMO growth is vital to the support of Home and World Missions, our ministerial education schools, strong congregational support and evangelism programs, and competent and necessary support in synod leadership, finance, and technology.

How can I learn more about the convention?

Visit for all your synod convention news. WELS Communication Services is debuting a redesigned site for the convention.

Amanda Klemp, web content manager for WELS, says that the new site will include more functionality, be easier to navigate, and be more responsive for those on mobile devices. She adds, “The information that is important to you should be easier to find on the new site.”


Visit convention to see who the nominees are for election; to read the Book of Reports and Memorials, which includes reports from all the

areas of ministry and will guide delegates in their work at the convention; and to see a list of delegates and the floor committees on which they’re serving.


Plenary meetings, open forums, and missionary presentations will be streamed live at Other communication vehicles include:

Video news updates—Three updates per day will inform WELS members about the important work and decisions being made at the convention and will feature interviews with key synod leaders and delegates.

Social media—WELS’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages will be active each day.

News articles—As decisions are made, articles will be posted to Each evening, an issue of “Together,” WELS’ e-newsletter, will be delivered to subscribers as a wrap-up of the day’s events and a look ahead to the next day.


A special issue of “Together” will be sent to subscribers to summarize the actions of the entire convention. Additional convention coverage will be printed in the October issue of Forward in Christ.

To subscribe to “Together,” visit

Ad Hoc Commission 2 recommendations

The 2013 synod in convention approved a resolution to establish a new ad hoc commission to “look at all areas of the synod structure and programs especially in the areas not addressed by the previous commission.” Following the convention, President Mark Schroeder appointed such a commission, which took the name Ad Hoc Commission 2.

The previous ad hoc commission presented its findings to the 2009 synod convention. Some major changes were approved based on the Ad Hoc Commission’s recommendations, including reorganization of the Board for Parish Services to the current Congregation and Ministry Support Group.

Joel Voss, chairman of both ad hoc commissions and second vice president of WELS, notes in his report to the 2015 delegates that as the Ad Hoc Commission 2 began its work, “it identified far more reasons to rejoice than to be concerned.”

The commission sought input from as many WELS members as possible to help direct its work. President Schroeder encouraged called workers to give their thoughts and suggestions to the commission. The commission also interviewed many synod leaders. The result was more than 200 suggestions and comments, all of which were studied and categorized.

Ultimately, the commission addressed 13 topics in depth. Topics included:

WELS compensation issues—In 2003 the Synodical Council developed the current compensation guidelines. The Ad Hoc Commission 2 believes that it is time for those guidelines to be studied again and updated. The Compensation Review Committee of the Synodical Council is beginning work on this and will share a draft of a proposal with the 2016 district conventions, with a final recommendation made to the 2017 synod in convention.

WELS convention delegate preparation—As the commission’s report states, “The 12 districts of the synod presently have no uniform way of preparing delegates for their important roles at the WELS convention. Since the convention determines the work of our church body for the next two years and beyond, is there a way for the delegates to be educated better in the workings of synod and its convention?” The recommendation by the Ad Hoc Commission 2 is for delegates to serve for two consecutive conventions with approximately half of the delegates at each convention serving their first year and the other half serving their second year. Because this change would affect the synod bylaws, the convention would need to pass this recommendation by a two-thirds majority.

Nomination for election of WELS president and synod praesidium—Currently the synod president, vice presidents, and secretary are elected by nominations from the floor of the synod convention. Those receiving nominations make up the list of candidates. The Ad Hoc Commission 2 recommends that the Synod Nominating Committee receive nominations for these positions prior to the convention. This change would also affect the synod bylaws and requires a two-thirds majority to pass. The commission has also made a similar recommendation regarding the election of members of each district’s praesidium.

Retired teacher Michael Hein organized the categorization of the suggested topics. He explains that the commission selected the topics and issues that it felt would best benefit from its attention. Yet, he says, “The Ad Hoc Commission 2 is just a small group, so I’m grateful that these topics are now moving forward to a larger body to consider. I pray that God’s will be done and that positive things come from our suggestions.”

To read the entire report of the Ad Hoc Commission 2, visit synodconvention and choose 2015 Book of Reports and Memorials. The report begins on p. 185.


Volume 102, Number 7
Issue: July 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us