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Save the Date

The date for the second annual WELS Night at Miller Park will be Aug. 14, 2015. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for the Milwaukee Brewers’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Last year more than 1,700 members enjoyed the evening and fellowship together as they watched the Brewers defeat the San Francisco Giants. View a slideshow from the Aug. 5, 2014, WELS Night at Miller Park.

The Brewers are again offering WELS members 50 percent off the price of tickets. Seating will be in a block for WELS members. The pricing is Field Outfield Box for $21/ticket, Loge Outfield Box for $17/ticket, or Terrace Reserved for $9/ticket. The web link to purchase discounted tickets for WELS Night at Miller Park will be available by March.

More details will be released in future issues of Together.

New and improved WELS App

A new, updated version of the WELS App is now available for Apple, Android, and Amazon users.

The updated app was designed for easier navigation and to take advantage of built in features of the phone. Some of the new features include ability to play audio and video files from within the application, a new WELS Radio player with improved interface and reliable playback, additional content, and a more up to date Synod Yearbook.

The app makes it possible to listen to or read daily devotion and Bible readings while on the go. Also available is WELS news, videos, and radio. WELS Technology Officer Martin Spriggs reminds users to leave a review in the app stores to help encourage others to download and use the app.

To download the free WELS app, simply search for “WELS Mobile” in your favorite app store. For more information, visit http://m.wels.net on your device’s internet browser.

Statistics and CMO deadline

Congregations are asked to submit their 2014 statistics through the congregational statisticsweb form on Connect by Feb. 6. Also due Feb. 6 are CMO subscriptions for 2015. Thank you to all congregations who sent in final 2014 offerings by the January deadline.

WELS Annual Report 2014

Copies of WELS Annual Report 2014 are now available. Every WELS congregation is being sent five copies of the report, and one is being included in the annual statement of each synod donor.

As WELS President Mark Schroeder explains in his introduction to the report, the annual report gives WELS members a glimpse of our common mission as a synod. Schroeder notes, “I hope that [this annual report] will remind you of the privilege we have to do that work, that it will encourage you in your zeal to participate in that work, and that it will be a reminder of God’s blessings on our mission and ministry.”

Stories and photos highlighting gospel ministry from 2014 are the focus of the annual report. A financial summary of the year is also included.

A limited number of print versions of the report are available from Northwestern Publishing House for free. Christian Giving counselors are also available to present a PowerPoint presentation to your congregation that summarizes the information in the annual report. Contact the Ministry of Christian Giving at 800-827-5482 for more information.

Order extra copies from Northwestern Publishing House.

View the digital online version.

New associate director of Schools

On Jan. 9, Teacher Tom Plitzuweit accepted the call to serve as associate director of the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools. Plitzuweit will begin serving in his new position on July 1.

Mr. Jim Rademan, director of WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools, explains that Plitzuweit’s primary responsibility will be to oversee the WELS school accreditation program known as WELSSA. Rademan says, “Tom has displayed a love for Lutheran schools through his volunteer work as district schools coordinator for the Nebraska District. He encouraged all the schools in the district to engage in continuous school improvement. He has also demonstrated a willingness to improve and learn through his personal continuing education.”

Plitzuweit currently serves St. Paul, Plymouth, Neb., as a teacher and school administrator. He notes, “I have always felt that I am doubly blessed to be able to have served as a teacher in a classroom setting and as a school administrator at the same time. Having both the teaching and administrative positions simultaneously has given me a clear picture of what it takes to focus on school improvement initiatives.”

In his new role with Lutheran Schools, Plitzuweit says, “I look forward to working with schools to help them see and celebrate their strengths, as well as helping them analyze areas in which improvement is needed. Being part of setting vision and strategic planning for our WELS schools and helping schools achieve their gospel-centered missions will be rewarding.”

Finally, Plitzuweit says, “I firmly believe our church body has an amazing treasure in our Lutheran schools. . . . By devoting time, energy, and resources to the vital work of our schools now, we are working together to ensure that our church body is equipped with servant leaders for generations to come!”

COP holds winter meeting

At its winter meeting, held January 11-14, the Conference of Presidents (COP) received the encouraging news that 2014 offerings from congregations totaled $21,272,502. Gifts exceeded the revised projections by $83,000 and were $568,000 higher than the original CMO commitments. The increase over the total received in 2013 was $277,000 or 1.3 percent. “On behalf of the COP I want to express our thanks to God for this blessing, and thanks to the members and congregations of the synod for this generous support,” says WELS President Mark Schroeder.

The COP received the following reports:

  • A summary was given of the third round of informal discussions held by representatives of WELS, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in December. The main topic for discussion was the doctrine of fellowship and its application. As was the case in the previous two meetings, these discussions were helpful in clarifying the doctrinal positions and practices of the three synods. Another meeting is planned for December 2015.
  • The Ad Hoc II Commission is nearing completion of its work. The COP was provided with a summary of the recommendations that will be brought to the synod convention in July.
  • Representatives of WELS, the ELS, and the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) will meet later this month to begin doctrinal discussions. One meeting is planned; others will follow if continued discussions are determined to be beneficial.
  • A survey of the 12 districts indicated there are currently 74 total pastoral vacancies (62 in parishes). While certainly not a crisis, the number of vacancies is a reminder and encouragement to encourage young men to consider training for the pastoral ministry.

Other actions by the COP include:

  • Continued to work on a revision of the 1989 document entitled “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.” The revision is being done to enable the statement to address more thoroughly contemporary issues as they relate to marriage.
  • Approved in concept a proposal for a synod-wide Reformation 2017 gathering in Milwaukee.
  • Approved a plan to update guidelines for groups planning conferences and seminars. The COP strongly encourages all groups to seek input and advice from the COP early in their planning.
  • Approved a plan to conduct a review of the structure and function of the Ministry of Christian Giving.
  • Approved a plan to work with Martin Luther College to identify teacher candidates who have the necessary skills and experience to serve in urban schools.
  • Reviewed plans and a timetable for the debt elimination effort that will begin following the synod convention in July. With God’s blessing, the COP hopes to eliminate the remaining synod capital debt by the end of 2016, three years ahead of schedule.