Tag Archive for: ministerial education

Mission and Ministry held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

From Feb. 5–7, students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., participated in Mission & Ministry, an annual three-day event organized by the students.

Under the theme “Work for the Harvest,” this event highlighted the worldwide work of WELS.

Each day featured a worship service, keynote address, and an update from WELS administration. In addition, to give these future pastors a cross-section of experiences they may face in ministry, 24 breakout sessions were offered in specific topics. These sessions included discussions on personal evangelism; cultivating a caring congregation; urban ministry; planting churches in rural areas; 125 years of ministry to the Apaches; and mission opportunities in Africa, Latin America, and Vietnam.

Also, to highlight synodical resources that are available to congregations, WELS organizations set up displays to share information about their work in God’s kingdom.

“Mission and Ministry refocuses us. It takes us away from our daily routine and reminds us why we study every day. The stories presenters share give us a glimpse of what it will be like to work together with them in God’s harvest field,” says senior Andrew Nemmers, one of the event organizers. “Especially in the middle of a long winter, it’s always helpful to have that reminder that there is a light at the end of the long tunnel of training for pastoral ministry.”

For photos of the event, visit the seminary’s Facebook page.

Fearlessly proclaim the gospel

Students heard the voice of experience Jan. 16 at Martin Luther College’s (MLC) 14th annual Evangelism Day. Following the theme “Fearlessly Proclaim the Gospel,” 30 presenters shared their expertise and personal stories, encouraging students to communicate Christ in their personal lives and their public ministries.

Students had positive reactions “I’ve never been more excited to be a minister of the gospel!” says Josh Wordell. Abby Mleziva adds, “It’s encouraging to see all the different ways that God’s Word is being spread and then picturing how we can fit into the body of Christ doing the same work.”

“It was a great reminder of why we’re here,” says Zach Kopplin. “I came out with this zeal for evangelism,” says Aislinn Eddy. “It’s not just about global missions. It’s about evangelism right where you’re at too.”

For the second year, MLC offered four evening presentations to the public: witnessing to Muslims, doing ministry in Spanish, sharing Jesus with little children, and the role of reason in Lutheran apologetics.

New this year is E-Day Action Day, a follow-up to Evangelism Day on April 10. Students will take their learning to the streets as Dave Malnes, a WELS staff minister and the founder of Praise and Proclaim Ministries, leads students and other New Ulm WELS members in an outreach effort. Participants will receive two hours of training before they begin knocking on doors and a debriefing session afterward.

WELS ministerial education schools begin another year

The four WELS ministerial education schools opened their years with blessings and good news.

While class sizes remain in the 20s and 30s for the next two years at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., projections based upon planned graduates from Martin Luther College indicate an upward trend toward the mid-30s in the following years. The Lord is answering the need for more workers in his harvest field.

Preliminary undergraduate opening enrollment at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., as of mid-August, is 768 compared to 756 last year. (Official enrollment is finalized at the end of August.) About 200 of the undergraduates are preseminary students, 70 of which are freshmen. Total enrollment in the various educational tracks is 547. Eleven students are enrolled in the staff ministry program.

Luther Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., opened the school year with a total enrollment of 420, up from 416 last year. Enrollment has been steady over the last five years, significantly larger than the low of 333 ten years ago. Last year LPS sent the largest number of its graduates to MLC to train for the pastoral ministry (38) in its 153-year history. Seventy percent of the class of 2018 has enrolled at Martin Luther College.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., begins the school year under the leadership of its new president, Rev. Mark Luetzow. Opening enrollment is 192, slightly lower than last year’s 195. MLS has 14 international students from five countries (Canada, South Korea, China, Germany, and Mexico). Thirty-three percent of the MLS faculty (including dormitory staff) is new since the end of last school year.

We thank God for these schools and for their students who are preparing to serve the Lord in the public ministry.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 

 

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New Partnership To Broaden Outreach Efforts

MEETING EMERGING NEEDS FOR TRAINING GOD’S PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

Linda R. Buxa

“We live in a world of rapid change, and this is true also in the area of theological education as the line between home and world missions disappears,” says Bradley Wordell, world mission seminary professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis.

One of the changes in education comes because of circular immigration. As God brings refugees and immigrants to the United States, congregations reach out to them with support and the gospel. “Then they have the desire to learn more, to share the gospel with other immigrants, and to bring the gospel back to their home countries. They introduce to us candidates for gospel ministry,” says Wordell. This circular immigration gives us a complete partnership in the gospel.

The second group of people who are changing the education landscape are Christians throughout the world who have already gathered together in groups, churches, and communities. They want support, training, and connection to a church body that shares the good news that Jesus has done it all and that the Bible is true.

Until now, the seminary has handled these requests through two programs, the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (PSI) and the world mission seminary program. The PSI helps non-traditional students through its preseminary and seminary training. PSI director E. Allen Sorum works with local pastors to help provide training for North American-based students. For the world mission seminary program, WLS professors travel throughout the world teaching courses in seminaries that are part of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. In 2015–16, 7 members of the seminary faculty administered 10 different courses in 9 countries to more than 100 students as well as 100 pastors and a few members.

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PSI director E. Allen Sorum (far left) traveled with Peter Bur, a South Sudanese pastor, to Kenya in 2015 to meet with and train spiritual leaders for South Sudanese refugees as well as pastors in a Kenyan church body looking to establish fellowship.

Today, more than 300 potential students are contacting our church body looking for support and training in their journey toward becoming confessional Lutherans. With the abundance of people reaching out, the scope of requests is beyond that of missionaries to handle while serving their people and is more than the seminary faculty can undertake while maintaining a high level of education on the Mequon campus. To address this God-given opportunity, the Synodical Council approved a position of international recruitment director. Jon Bare, a 2008 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, began serving in this position in summer 2016.

“The creation of this team connects World Missions, Home Missions, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in a new and exciting way,” says Bare. His task is to coordinate with the world mission seminary professor and the PSI director to implement a culturally informed vetting process for individuals as well as church bodies who wish to become part of our church body’s worldwide outreach. This team will administer a curriculum for men in America and abroad who want to serve as pastors in these church bodies. Bare will work closely with Sorum and Wordell to also develop an appropriate assessment of skills and abilities in ministry and negotiate the appropriate degree or certificate that the student would receive upon the completion of his given level of training.

“The three of us each bring our unique gifts, strengths, and experiences to this new team. This partnership will serve to meet the emerging needs for training God’s people at home and around the world,” says Bare. “I am excited to see how God will continue to grow his kingdom and equip new workers.”

Through all these changes, one thing that doesn’t change is the seminary’s mission. “We prepare pastors and we provide continuing education for pastors,” says Paul O. Wendland, seminary president. “At the same time, the ministry is adapting. The Mequon campus is more a base of operations than a single venue for theological and pastoral training. With more than 300 potential students from around the world asking for help, we have an incredible opportunity.”

Opportunities to reach every neighbor and every nation. The time is now.


Linda Buxa is the communications coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin.   

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

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Author: Linda R. Buxa
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
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

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Lives prepared for service: Part 3

We pray for blessings on the future of our synod’s ministerial education system as it continues to train workers for the harvest field.

Matthew A. Crass

Anniversaries of any occasion give us the opportunity to praise God for his abundant blessings of the past. Yet, we don’t live in the past; we live for the future. Our eternal future is secure in the Living One who was dead but now is alive forever and ever (Revelation 1:18). We live to serve our Savior today and for all the tomorrows he will give us, confident that the same grace he gave us in the past will continue in the future.

The Lord has blessed our church body for the past 150 years with a ministerial education system that had its beginnings in Watertown, Wisconsin. For the past 20 years Luther Preparatory School (LPS) continues the long history. A sesquicentennial anniversary gives reason for a celebration of gratitude to our triune God.

THE CHALLENGE: THE HARVEST

The Good Shepherd told his 12 disciples, “The harvest is plentiful” (Matthew 9:37). Perhaps as many as 300 million people inhabited the earth in A.D. 30 when Jesus spoke those words. Today that number has increased more than twentyfold. Two thousand years later the seven billion still need the “one thing needful”—Jesus!

For the past few years and for at least the next seven years Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS) will be averaging approximately 30 graduates who will present themselves to the church for calls into the pastoral ministry. They will be “replacing” the seminary classes of the late ’70s and early ’80s, which graduated more than 50 young men each year. Those statistics do present a challenge.

The challenge is great; the harvest calls us all. The Lord has blessed us with more open doors in Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. Requests also have risen for Martin Luther College (MLC) graduates to serve as teachers overseas. More preschools have opened and continue to bloom in congregations across the country. Home Missions planted several new missions in recent years and plans carefully to follow the same course for the coming years. Seven billion souls and the thousands of opportunities before us accentuate even more the urgency of our prayers for more workers in Christ’s harvest field.

THE CHALLENGE: MORE WORKERS

The Good Shepherd said the harvest was plentiful, and he continued, “. . . but the workers are few.” That was true two millennia ago, is true today, and will remain true until the Lord of the harvest returns to take his harvest home. Jesus concluded, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (v. 38).

The Lord does not choose to feed us in the same miraculous way as he did with the Israelites when he provided manna and quail directly from heaven. He works through people: farmers, manufacturers of machinery, transporters, processors, packagers, grocers, etc.

Neither does the Lord choose to bring people to faith by speaking directly to them as he did with the persecutor of the church, Saul, calling him to be his ambassador. He works through means—his gospel in Word and sacrament. He hasn’t entrusted his life-giving Word to angels, but to human beings. In doing so God has ordained the public ministry. In writing to the Ephesians Paul reminds us that the ascended Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (4:11). The people of our synod have always placed a high value on the training of their called workers and the blessings those called workers bring to the congregations through their gospel work.

OUR TASK: ENCOURAGING FUTURE WORKERS

The work of the gospel is blessed when parents offer their sons and daughters for consideration and preparation for full-time ministry. A few decades ago a study was done asking young pastors what or who was their greatest encouragement toward ministry. “My mother” was the top answer.

Pastors, teachers, and staff ministers modeling ministry for the young in their care and following it up with an encouraging word to them about someday serving in ministry goes a long way.

“You will be such a fine pastor/teacher.” Simple sentences like that from congregational members to their “sons and daughters” often reach deep into a young person’s heart.

In 1529 Martin Luther said this regarding giving a servant to the full-time ministry of the gospel: “If you bring up a child in such a way that he is able to become a keeper of souls, you do not give a coat or endow a monastery or church; you are indeed doing something greater; you are giving a servant of God who is able to help many souls.”

What type of child, grade school student, or high school student, is Jesus looking for to serve him in the full-time ministry? Many of us have perhaps spoken of young people who have “gifts for ministry.” Such talk can unintentionally limit the pool of candidates for ministry. How do I know what gifts a 12-year-old will have 12 years from now? Could it very well be that Jesus has in mind that this congregation will need the very gifts of this present-day 12-year-old, who at this time in his life doesn’t appear to have any of those gifts?

Let’s also look at Scripture’s examples. Was the non-eloquent, slow of speech Moses gifted? How about skittish Jonah? persecutor Saul? doubting Thomas? spineless Peter? other disciples who would serve in Christ’s harvest field? The Bible has the answer as Paul speaks of ministry: “Not that we are competent in ourselves . . . but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers” (2 Corinthians 3:5,6).

OUR TASK: TRAINING FUTURE WORKERS

Do you know a young boy or girl whom you would like to encourage to be a pastor, teacher, or staff minister? Luther Prep is a blessed place for high school students to begin their preparation. Everything that happens at Luther Prep is done with an eye toward ministry. The current of Luther Prep’s river flows toward MLC and WLS. Historically more than half of Luther Prep’s graduates continue at Martin Luther College for ministry. Certainly parents who send their children to Luther Prep make many sacrifices along the way, but God gives lasting blessings.

LPS isn’t the only source of students. WELS has another synod prep school—Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich.—and 24 area Lutheran high schools. Plus there are hundreds of public high schools. We walk and work together to encourage students from every corner of WELS-world to consider working in Christ’s harvest fields.

For a century and a half the synod’s Watertown campus has been enrolling young people willing to consider and be encouraged toward ministry. We pray that will be true for as many more years, decades, or centuries God gives to Luther Prep. We confess with our confessions: “The chief worship of God is to preach the gospel” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XV). Where the gospel is taught and preached, the Holy Spirit will continue to gather his church for time and eternity. With such assurance, we look confidently toward a blessed future.

Matthew Crass, president of Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wisconsin, is a member at St. Luke, Watertown, Wisconsin.

This is the final article in a three-part series discussing 150 years of ministerial education on the synod’s Watertown campus.

A sesquicentennial celebration of praise to God will be held at the Luther Prep gymnasium at 3 p.m. CST, Nov. 15. The synod’s four ministerial education school choirs will participate. The event will be livestreamed. Learn more at www.lps.wels.net.

 

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Author: Matthew A. Crass
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
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

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Lives Prepared for Service: Part 1

LPS 150

Training the next generation of full-time church workers in Watertown, Wisconsin, began 150 years ago.

Matthew A. Crass

It was the early 1860s. One can almost imagine some words from a well-intended letter: “Dear President Bading, with our church body being in existence for only a little more than a decade, it does not seem as though we are ready to undertake an endeavor of such magnitude.”

One can almost hear President Bading’s friends speaking to him: “What are you thinking? The members of our fledgling synod are immigrants. They don’t have that kind of money. How can we possibly expect them even to build such a campus let alone pay for the ongoing operation of it? Oh, and you certainly are also well aware of the fact that we are in the midst of the Civil War, right?”

Some might have called him a visionary, while others might have said he was innovative. But Johannes Bading, WELS’ second synod president, preferred to think of himself as a gospel servant. Bading sought support for a plan—to build a campus in Watertown, Wisconsin, to prepare and train the next generation of pastors and teachers for spreading the gospel.

A SMALL BEGINNING

The pastors coming from Germany were few and often unreliable. In his report to the 1862 synod convention, Bading wrote, “We must dig a well in our land, in our synod, from which workers flow to us. . . . Let us make a small beginning, with faith in the Lord’s help.”

Even though Bading’s idea was at times met with apathy, uncertainty, or disagreement, he continued to plod, prepare, plant, and procure gifts. Above all, he proclaimed Christ. He knew that the Spirit would work as he willed through such preaching.

A small beginning was made. And the well was dug.

On Sept. 14, 1865, the campus of ministry in Watertown, Wisconsin, was dedicated. The school was established to serve as a seminary and a college, which would include a prep department. The five-acre campus had only one building known as the Kaffeemuehle because its shape resembled a coffee grinder. Within the Kaffeemuehle, 6 seminary students and 66 prep students (no college students yet because there were very few young men who had a high school education in 1865) ate, attended classes, worshiped, studied, and slept. At the dedication, Bading publicly praised God for the assured training of preachers of the gospel. He said, “The Lord will carry out to a glorious end the work that we have begun.”

 

A SOLID BASE

This profound truth has been made with these rather simple words: “The work of a minister of the gospel is this—to know the Word of God and the soul of the human being he serves. Then connect the two.” Of course, it is the Holy Spirit working through the gospel in Word and sacrament who makes such a connection. That is precisely why the Word of God remains paramount in the work of our WELS pastors, teachers, and staff ministers.

That’s what our forefathers thought and believed in 1865. The ministerial education of the students meant a heavy emphasis on Bible, doctrine, history, English, German, Latin, and even French. In 1524, Martin Luther wrote, “In proportion then as we value the gospel, let us zealously hold to the languages. For it was not without purpose that God caused his Scriptures to be set down in these two languages alone—the Old Testament Hebrew, the New Testament Greek. Now, if God did not despise them but chose them above all others for his word, then we too ought to honor them above all others.” As it is today, the study of Greek and Hebrew was critical to the formation of a gospel servant in 1865, so much so that Greek was taught in the prep department.

Martin Luther continued with his compelling words, “Let us be sure of this. We will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” Board for Ministerial Education administrator Paul Prange wrote on the occasion of our seminary’s 150th anniversary two years ago, “I am unaware of any other Lutheran seminary that has remained orthodox for 150 years.” God has preserved the gospel among us. This is a testimony to God’s grace and the rich blessings he has given us as a synod in our ministerial education system.

A RICH HISTORY

The seminary graced the Watertown campus until 1870, before moving first to St. Louis, then to Milwaukee, and finally to Wauwatosa. For the past 86 years it has resided in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The college and prep department were modeled, not surprisingly, after the German Gymnasium schools. This included four years of study in the prep department and two in the college. Remnants of 1865 remain today as the high school students on the synod’s Watertown campus, known today as Luther Preparatory School, still use the Latin names from the German Gymnasium to identify their year of study. For example, the sophomores are called Quintaners (from the Latin for “fifth”) because in 1865 they would have looked forward to five more years of education at Watertown.

The college was first known as “Wisconsin University” and then “Northwestern University.” In 1910 the governing board changed its name to Northwestern College. Northwestern College remained the anchor of the Watertown campus for 130 years, until it was amalgamated in 1995 with Dr. Martin Luther College, our synod’s teacher training college in New Ulm, Minnesota. Since then our synod’s single college of ministry bears the name Martin Luther College (MLC).

Last May the Northwestern College Alumni Society held its annual meeting on the Watertown campus for the first time since the amalgamation. Daniel Balge, MLC’s academic dean for the pre-seminary program, addressed the group. In his remarks he related that “the spirit of Northwestern College lives on at MLC.” This continuing spirit is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who worked in the hearts of young men to offer themselves for the gospel ministry 150 years ago in Watertown, continues to work today in the young men and women at MLC.

BLESSINGS FROM GOD

The prep department has remained on the campus for 150 years and still continues with the same purpose: preparing students for the public ministry of the gospel.

In 1865, the people of our synod dug the well from which countless blessings have flowed from the hand of the Almighty. More than 3,500 pastors have received their training on the Watertown campus. The same is true for several thousand teachers and dedicated laypeople.

Ministerial education in WELS endured some challenging years in the late 1860s. But by 1872 the enrollment had grown to 156 students. The total enrollment of our synod’s four ministerial education schools today numbers approximately 1,500. The well has been dug very deep.

Johannes Bading served as synod president until 1889. He served on the governing board of Northwestern College until shortly before he entered glory in 1913. We still echo his words today: “The Lord will carry out to a glorious end the work which we begin.”

Matthew Crass, president of Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wisconsin, is a member at St. Luke, Watertown.

This is the first article in a three-part series discussing 150 years of ministerial education on the synod’s Watertown campus.


 

A sesquicentennial celebration of praise to God will be held at the Luther Prep gymnasium at 3 p.m. CST, Nov. 15. The synod’s four ministerial education school choirs will participate. The event will be livestreamed. Learn more at www.lps.wels.net.

 

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Author: Matthew A. Crass
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
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

 

2015 MLC graduate assignments

The synod’s Assignment Committee met in New Ulm, Minn., last week to assign candidates for the teaching ministry and staff ministry to their places of service. Eighty-six candidates received calls into the teaching ministry. Some of these assignments were one-year assignments for a first or second year; others were previous one-year assignments that were made permanent. The remaining candidates were assigned permanently. No assignments of staff minister candidates were made.

All 2015 graduates from Martin Luther College who are able to serve anywhere were assigned. Some graduates have requested deferment for a year to pursue academic or cross-cultural opportunities. Others with marriage plans (and, therefore, limited in where they can serve) are eligible to be called directly by congregations near where they will be living. Two previous graduates await assignment in the future.

More than 40 requests for teacher assignments were not able to be filled, either because of the lack of candidates or because the training of candidates did not fit the needs of the specific call.

We have great reason to be filled with thanks and joy that God has provided well-trained and dedicated workers for his harvest field. Keep them in your prayers as they begin their service, and pray that God would continue to provide men and women to teach the Savior’s lambs in our schools.

Assignment of vicars and pastors takes place this week at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. Vicar assignment will be announced on Tuesday evening, and the same will be done for pastoral candidates on Thursday morning.

Serving in Christ,
Rev. Mark Schroeder

 

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