WELS Military Services commissioned two new chaplains this summer to serve WELS members in the military and their families. Rev. Robert Weiss was commissioned Aug. 6 as the new European civilian chaplain, replacing Rev. John Hartwig, who retired. Rev. Paul Horn was commissioned Aug. 19 as the new WELS national civilian chaplain, replacing Rev. Paul Ziemer, who also retired.
Weiss and his wife, Rachel, will be moving this week to Germany, where the European civilian chaplain is based. From this central location, he will be able to serve members of the military, their families, and other ex-pats living abroad with God’s Word. He was commissioned at St. Peter, Chilton, Wis., where he has served as pastor since 2014. Prior to serving at St. Peter, he served at King of Kings, Little Rock, Ark., where he was assigned in 2004 after graduating Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. While in Arkansas, Weiss served as a military contact pastor to nearby military installations. And, it’s where he studied German at the University of Arkansas. Weiss also has a little experience as the European chaplain, as he filled in for a couple months when his predecessor was on furlough.
“The number one thing I’m looking forward to is being able to focus very intensely on a specific area of ministry. Military ministry is a specific demographic of people within the synod who are in a specific situation that’s not normal,” says Weiss. “Being able to serve WELS members in the military and have that be my complete focus—I’m very much looking forward to that.”
Rev. Joel Gaertner, director of WELS Special Ministries which oversees WELS Military Services, presided over the commissioning service. Gaertner says, “Rob Weiss is ideally suited for serving as our next European civilian chaplain. With his German-speaking skills and experience in serving our military members with the gospel, he is perfectly suited to take on this role. We pray for God’s richest blessings for Chaplain Weiss and his wife, Rachel, as they move to Germany.”
Horn was commissioned at Grace, Milwaukee, Wis. Horn has been involved with military ministry for 19 years, beginning with his first assignment after graduation to Faith in Radcliff, Ky., where he served as a military contact pastor. He has served on the WELS Military Services Committee since 2013. Horn and his wife, Rebecca, are in the process of moving from Lafayette, Ind., where he served as pastor at Lamb of God, to San Diego, Calif. He expects to begin his call as national civilian chaplain in San Diego in September, where he will not only serve as the liaison to the military, but also orient, train, and mentor WELS military contact pastors around the country.
Horn’s call is a change for WELS Military Services. It is the first time the call will be full time and the first time it will be based in San Diego, home to nearly all the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and in close proximity to the Pacific fleet. “The pivot to a full-time national chaplain is necessary because ministry to our military is too important to do part time,” says Horn. “The military mindset and culture is often misunderstood by civilians and because of that we often miss opportunities for meaningful outreach and gospel ministry and we miss opportunities to engage military families in meaningful service in our congregations.”
If you, or someone you know, is in the military, Weiss and Horn want to know who you are and serve you with the Word and sacrament. Visit wels.net/refer to sign up with WELS Military Services to get connected with them or a military contact pastor.
Watch Rev. Horn’s installation service