Evangelism Day at MLC

The annual Evangelism Day at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., in January, brought a break from classes as students attended stellar seminars and got fired up about proclaiming Christ.

“Evangelism Day,” says Maddy Leckwee, “is filled with energy and fire for the gospel. It makes you excited for the work you are training to do.”

Pastors, teachers, and laypeople presented on topics ranging from youth ministry and social media outreach to the gospel in East Asia and witnessing to Mormons.

Others snagged an opportunity to practice confessing their faith with Praise and Proclaim Ministries’ evangelism training. The group looks forward to canvassing later this spring.

View photos from the day.

Article from Martin Luther College’s e-mail newsletter KnightWatch.


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Lord, ENERGIZE your Church in 2020

Dear Friend,

In our daily lives as Christians it’s easy to feel less than enthusiastic about our mission. In Acts we read about an energized church where the Holy Spirit led the apostles in courageously proclaiming the good news of Jesus, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (2:47). Today it can feel like that kind of ministry momentum was a thing of the past. But take a step back to see what God has been doing through us, our local churches, and WELS as we receive and share the message of Christ’s love in Word and sacraments!

Jesus still calls workers. He has blessed us with increased enrollment at our ministerial education schools, including students from various cultures who want to bring the gospel to their own people groups. Martin Luther College has embarked on a campaign, “Equipping Christian Witnesses,” to recruit and train even more students to meet the greater demand around the world for workers, biblical instruction, and evangelism. The college shares, “Never before in our synod’s history have so many people from so many countries approached our synod for instruction in the Word and for help in reaching the lost. Never before have we had the technology to teach the gospel in countless homes and many different countries. We need more trained pastors, teachers, and staff ministers to seize these new opportunities to impact the world with the Word.”

Jesus still grows his Church. When a man in Pakistan reached out to WELS for resources, we provided Bible studies that were distributed to 56,000 people. The communist government in Vietnam invited WELS to build a theological education center to train leaders of the Hmong Fellowship Church, which hopes to reach more than two million Hmong in the region. WELS has connected with 1.3 million people from every country in Latin America through social media and online training courses, and this has led to missionaries nurturing groups of people across various countries. In Africa, missionary John Holtz shares, “The need is so enormous right now that it staggers the mind and stirs the soul. The stream of requests for visits and teaching keeps flowing.” WELS is proclaiming Christ in 40 foreign countries and exploring opportunities in 14 new mission fields. In North America WELS opens new home missions every year. Eighteen of these are conducting cross-cultural ministry.

Jesus still strengthens congregations. WELS Congregational Services has produced programs that have been widely used in congregations across our synod for training members in evangelism (“C19”), stewardship (“10 for 10”), and retention of members (“Welcome Home”), to name just a few. (Visit to see all available resources.)

Jesus’ Church continues to advance powerfully just as it has done since the events described in Acts, and you and I are privileged to be part of the action (Matthew 28:19-20)!

If you’ve been feeling less than enthusiastic, immerse yourself in the gospel in Word and sacraments that remind of God’s promises kept and his victories won in Christ Jesus. Ask the all-powerful God, who loves you as his dear child, for his Spirit and confidence. As someone freed from the concerns of this life, give cheerfully so that “your plenty will supply [the Church’s] need” (2 Corinthians 8:14).

May the Lord continue to ENERGIZE us for his kingdom’s work in the coming year!

In our Savior’s service,
Kurt Lueneburg
WELS Director of Christian Giving

Rev. Richard Gurgel accepts call to serve as MLC president

Rev. Richard Gurgel has accepted the call to serve as president of WELS’ college of ministry, Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn. He will begin his new call on July 1, 2020.

Gurgel brings years of parish and teaching experience to his new ministry. Since 1999, he has served as a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., teaching homiletics, systematics, and Christian education. He also directs the continuing education arm of the seminary, the Grow in Grace Institute.

The MLC Governing Board issued the call Sept. 26, and Gurgel officially accepted Oct. 21, saying, “With a deep awareness of my weaknesses as a jar of clay but with a still deeper appreciation for Christ’s forgiving and empowering grace, I accept the call to serve as Martin Luther College’s next president. May God give me a double portion of the servant-hearted, gospel-filled spirit with which President Zarling has so faithfully served.”

Furthermore, Gurgel noted, “God has used and continues to use what happens on MLC’s campus to prepare one generation after another of Christian witnesses to proclaim the gospel of his kingdom in classrooms and congregations and communities around the world. Truly a city set on a hill cannot be hidden!”

Rev. Mark Zarling, retiring president of MLC, is grateful that such a faithful shepherd will soon assume the leadership mantle. “Prof. Gurgel is a shepherd gifted with many abilities and with a heart that beats with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” says Zarling. “I am thrilled that he has accepted and am confident that Jesus will use him mightily for the good of this important ministry.”

To learn more about MLC, visit



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Equipping Christian Witnesses effort underway

Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., is embarking on a two-year synodwide offering called “Equipping Christian Witnesses.”

Martin Luther College (MLC) is our WELS college of ministry. It prepares nearly all of our called workers, training teachers and staff ministers to serve when they graduate and providing college-level training to young men who will enroll at the seminary to prepare to serve as pastors. Our synod is experiencing a great need for more called workers, and that is what this effort intends to help address.

The offering will provide resources to increase recruitment efforts around the synod.

In addition to that, it will address one barrier to enrollment at MLC: the cost of education. Even though MLC strives to keep educational costs down (and is widely considered to be successful in doing that), the prayer is that this offering will assist in recruitment by providing additional resources for student financial aid, reducing the need for students to borrow for their education.

Another goal of this offering is to provide funds that will help the college improve its facilities, particularly student housing and recreation facilities. While certainly not the main motivation for studying for the ministry, campus facilities do play an important role in recruitment.

We pray that God will move the hearts of our congregations and their members to take part in this opportunity to support the important work that MLC is doing on behalf of us all.

To learn more, visit

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder



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Equipping Christian Witnesses

Dear Friend,

We are embarking on extraordinary times! Our gracious Savior, who “is not willing that any should perish,” is opening mission doors in the 21st century that are beyond our imagination! More new mission starts, thriving preschools, and growing urban schools are just some areas where we need more Christian witnesses—more pastors, teachers, and staff ministers—to share the love of Christ.

At Martin Luther College (MLC) we have the privilege of preparing those called workers. We’re excited about our new campaign, EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN WITNESSES, in which, by God’s grace, we will prepare even more called workers by expanding our reach in three areas: recruitment, financial aid, and facilities.

Recruitment: Large numbers of Baby Boomers are retiring, and we simply don’t have enough candidates to replace them—or to fill those new mission doors opening up across the globe.

You can help! Pray that the Lord of the Church send more workers, and encourage a young person yourself: “You did a great job speaking in front of the church. I can see you as a pastor or teacher.”

Financial Aid: College debt is a challenge across our nation, including at MLC. Even though we strive to keep costs low and have been recognized nationally for quality and affordability, our debt figures are still cause for concern: Since 2015, 75 percent of MLC students have graduated with debt averaging $25,000.

One program already alleviating the burden is the Congregational Partner Grant Program, through which MLC matches congregations’ gifts for their students’ tuition—dollar for dollar, up to a $1,000 per year per student. In 2019-2020, this program is resulting in almost a million dollars applied to students’ tuition accounts.

You can help keep this successful program going! Your gift will supply the matching funds that MLC provides, establishing a solid foundation for the Congregational Partner Grant Program for years to come.

Facilities: It may be hard to believe, but we built our newest dormitory about 50 years ago. We need to update our students’ living and learning environments, and we need to avoid overcrowding.

You can help! Your gift to EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN WITNESSES will allow us to construct a new residence hall: Luther Heights. Overlooking Summit Avenue, this beautiful air-conditioned facility will include an exercise room, kitchen, laundry, and study lounges. And we know our students will love these new living quarters: two-bedroom suites, where four students will share a bathroom and shower.

A second facility in our plans is the 36,000-square-foot Knight Center, which will help us meet the pressing needs of our physical education department and athletic programs. It includes locker rooms and showers, and a large turfed field for baseball, softball, soccer, football, intramurals, fitness, and physical education classes.

Both Luther Heights and the Knight Center will enhance our recruitment efforts. We function in a competitive marketplace as we help high school students consider MLC and the full-time ministry. By providing up-to-date facilities, we demonstrate that we care about these young people developing all their gifts in a safe and supportive learning environment. We want them to give MLC a try!

You can see how excited we are about the extraordinary opportunities God is presenting to us today through EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN WITNESSES. Will you help?

In Christ,
Rev. Mark Zarling
President, Martin Luther College

P.s. To learn more about this two-year campaign, recommend a potential student, or establish a pledge, go to

Assignments at Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Last week the synod’s Assignment Committee met in New Ulm, Minn., to assign teacher and staff ministry candidates. The Assignment Committee is comprised of the Conference of Presidents and is assisted by various advisors.

One hundred forty candidates were assigned to the teaching ministry. All candidates who were able to go anywhere were assigned. Many candidates that could be assigned to limited geographical areas (due to marriage or other circumstances) were assigned, and more of those will be assigned in the coming weeks.

Two staff minister candidates who could go anywhere were assigned; two that were limited by geography were not yet assigned but could be assigned in the future if calls become available.

The complete list of assignments can be found at

This week the Assignment Committee moves to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. There the committee will assign vicars and pastoral candidates. The announcement of those assignments will take place on Thurs., May 23, at 10:00 a.m. The service can be viewed live online at

Our gracious God has provided candidates to serve in the public ministry, and he has moved them to say, “Here am I; send me!” We thank God for these gifts to his church and pray for his blessings on their service.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder