The Conference of Presidents (COP) met for its winter meeting on Jan. 6-9. The COP meeting addressed many topics, including:
- The COP approved proposals to amend the synod’s bylaws dealing with disciplinary procedures carried out by the districts. These proposed changes are intended to clarify the terms, timing, and process to be followed when discipline becomes necessary. The proposed amendments will be reviewed by the synod’s Constitution Committee and will ultimately be presented to the 2021 synod convention.
- Asia Lutheran Seminary has enrolled several American students who will soon graduate. To prepare these students for serving in stateside ministry, the COP approved Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s plan to provide these graduates with a year of stateside vicar experience and with two semesters of additional instruction at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis.
- The COP issued a divine call to Prof. John Hartwig to serve as a civilian chaplain in Europe and to Mr. James Sievert to serve as a part-time assistant consultant for the Commission on Lutheran Schools.
- The COP has asked for a review of the Ministry of Christian Giving’s major gifts program to ensure that the Ministry of Christian Giving is best positioned and structured to carry out its work.
- The COP received with thanks the news that Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) for 2019 were $330,000 higher than what congregations had committed. CMO subscriptions for 2020 are now being gathered, with the prayer that congregations will be able to increase their subscriptions to provide additional support for WELS missions and ministry. Looking ahead to 2021, the COP will prepare an encouragement video highlighting the blessings that Congregation Mission Offerings have made possible.
- The COP approved a proposal that congregations will be encouraged to designate one Sunday in 2021 as a “WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday” as a way of highlighting the work we do together. Informational and worship materials will be provided.
- Each of the 12 districts will be asked to consider the proposed change to the WELS Pension Plan at this summer’s district conventions. Informational materials will be provided well in advance, and each district will be given a detailed overview of the proposed changes. Districts will be asked whether or not they approve of the changes. Depending on the results of those votes, the Synodical Council will determine how and when to proceed with the process.
- The COP has overseen a restatement of the synod’s doctrinal position on the roles of men and women, entitled “Male and Female in God’s World.” The restatement does not reflect a change in our teaching; rather, it was intended to clarify and update the current doctrinal statement. The restatement will be reviewed by pastor and teacher conferences. In addition, an accompanying Bible study is available for use in congregations. The districts will be asked to provide reaction and input before a final draft is presented to the synod convention in 2021.
- The COP has also developed a “Statement on Human Sexuality,” which presents a biblical perspective on the transgender issue.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder