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



Learning to reach souls with the gospel

The 13th annual Evangelism Day brought more than 40 speakers from all over the country to Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., on Jan. 10.

Rev. Jeremy Mattek from Garden Homes, Milwaukee, Wis., led the opening worship service on the theme, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Then students attended a blend of required and elective workshops on a wide range of topics, including “Reaching Out to Millennials,” “Ministry to the Poor,” “Reaching Global Cities,” and “Evangelism and Technology.”

This year brought a new feature: evening sectionals open to the community. More than 30 guests joined students at these evening presentations.

“Evangelism Day is a day to marvel at Christ’s abundant goodness to us,” said MLC President Rev. Mark Zarling. “The Lord safely brings so many dedicated presenters to MLC. They inspire and inform our students and community members about the Great Commission foundation in all gospel labors in every congregation and classroom, in every city and neighborhood. Our students are blessed by such interactions as they see that first and foremost they are a corps of Christian witnesses to reach souls with the gospel of Christ.”

Evangelism Day is a joint effort of MLC, WELS Commission on Evangelism, and WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.

Learn more about Martin Luther College at