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Registration open for summer conferences

Registration is now open for the WELSTech Conference 2015, and registration for the National School Leadership Conference will be open soon.

The National School Leadership Conference will run June 15-18, 2015, at the Country Springs Hotel, Pewaukee, Wis.

“The goals of the conference are to strengthen and equip WELS professional educators to serve our preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools. This year’s conference will strengthen participants’ minds, bodies, and souls for the work of the gospel. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to interact with other WELS professional educators from preschool all the way through college. Forming and developing these partnerships will mutually benefit our schools, but more importantly, strengthen the WELS school system,” says Mr. Shawn Herkstroeter, principal at Faith, Fond du Lac, Wis., and a chairman of the School Leadership Conference.

The WELSTech Conference will run from July 9-11, 2015, also at the Country Springs Hotel.

WELS Chief Technology Officer Mr. Martin Spriggs says, “The conference is designed for anybody interested in the effective use of technology for ministry. This could include pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay leaders. Each participant can select from over 100 sessions that will provide very practical tools and ideas that will aid personal and professional ministries.” Presentation topics will include the effective use of social networks, worship technologies, introducing tablets and Chromebooks in the classroom, networking, website building, productivity, and many more.

Find more information about both events and how to register at www.wels.net/events.

Online class for friendship evangelism

The Commission on Evangelism is offering an online course on friendship evangelism April 6 to May 8 through the continuing education program at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.

Taught by Rev. John Huebner, retired mission counselor, the class is designed to enable learners to confidently share their faith in a personal, transparent, and informed approach.

While anyone can take the class, Rev. Mike Hintz, director of the Commission on Evangelism, says the course speaks directly to lay members. “It’s not about congregational evangelism and program. It’s about talking to your neighbor, to your friend at work, and to your relative,” says Hintz. “It’s being able to understand the obstacles and challenges but also to take what we already know and grow in our confidence to share Jesus with others.”

This course is one of three that make up an Evangelism certificate program through MLC, along with “The Mission of the Church” and “Practical Evangelism for Congregations.” “Evangelism is the work that God has given us as the church to do,” says Hintz. “These classes are designed to help members of WELS—lay members or called workers—to grow in the understanding and skill in evangelism so they can help their congregation with this important work and also be better able to do it in their personal lives.” Anyone can take individual courses, even those not interested in pursuing the certificate.

Hintz says the goal is to offer each course once a year. After the upcoming course on friendship evangelism, “The Mission of the Church” will be offered this summer, starting June 15, and “Practical Evangelism” for Congregations in fall, starting Sept. 14.

While there are fees for taking these courses, Hintz suggests that congregations consider budgeting funds for congregational lay leaders to pursue this opportunity.

Learn more about the courses and how to register at www.wels.net/evangelism. Class size is limited.

Representatives from the CLC, ELS, and WELS meet

On Jan. 30, representatives from the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC), the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), and WELS met for doctrinal discussions at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis. This was the first meeting between representatives of these three synods since 1990. It was called by the synod presidents, with the encouragement of the appropriate synod committees, upon the request of a grassroots group of pastors from all three synods in the Mankato, Minn., area.

The meeting was cordial and productive. The participants shared perspectives on the history of the relationship between the three synods. The participants also discussed the “Joint Statement Regarding the Termination of Fellowship Between Church Bodies,” a document that was prepared in 1990 during the last round of doctrinal discussions. A reconciliation is not expected to come about easily or quickly between the CLC and ELS/WELS. But attendees found it was useful to hear first-hand how the situation looks from the perspective of others and to discuss what it would take to overcome the breach that has separated the synods.

Representing the CLC were Pres. Michael Eichstadt, Rev. Paul Nolting, and Rev. Bruce Naumann; representing the ELS were Pres. John Moldstad, Prof. Gaylin Schmeling, and Prof. Erling Teigen; and representing WELS were Prof. John Brenner, Prof. Thomas Nass, and Pres. Mark Schroeder. Only one of these participants was involved in the 1990 meetings, so this meeting brought together a new generation of leaders who have not discussed the issues together before.

A second meeting is planned for April 17 in Eau Claire, Wis., to continue the discussions. The second meeting will focus more pointedly on the “Joint Statement” of 1990 and will begin the discussion of additional topics of concern.

New Multi-Language Publications coordinator

Rev. Nathan Seiltz has accepted the call to serve as coordinator of WELS Multi-Language Publications. Seiltz will replace Rev. Paul Hartman, who is retiring after serving in this position for 14 years as well as 10 years as director of publications for Latin America missions before that.

Multi-Language Publications (MLP) assists in the production of confessional Christian literature and other mass media in more than 45 different languages. Increasingly, MLP produces digital publications in addition to print publications.

Mr. Sean Young, director of Missions Operations, says, “Paul Hartman’s dedication and perseverance have helped MLP grow into what it is today. From the very beginning, Paul has nurtured and grown the portfolio of offerings within MLP and has worked tirelessly to ensure that the synod’s ‘hidden jewel’ gets uncovered and shared with everyone looking for solid material sharing the saving message.”

Seiltz will be charged with continuing Hartman’s work. A 1994 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., Seiltz is currently serving as principal at Evergreen Lutheran High School in Tacoma, Wash. His past service includes time as a world missionary in the Dominican Republic. In July 2014, he became chairman of the Europe Administrative Committee of the Board for World Missions.

As Seiltz transitions to his new role, the office of the MLP coordinator will move from El Paso, Tex., where much of MLP’s work is currently performed, to the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis.

Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of the WELS Board for World Missions, explains that having the MLP coordinator near other WELS resources that can support and strengthen the reach of its materials will be “a welcome connection.” Connecting with the missionaries and national workers who travel to the Center for Mission and Ministry will also now be easier.

As Schlomer notes, “It is time to make sure WELS sees and uses this gem. The treasure of materials, the experience of production, and the help of many brothers and sisters in many cultures is the strength MLP brings to WELS efforts to reach the lost in the world.”

Learn more about Multi-Language Publications at www.wels.net/mlp.

First steps taken for Malawi relief

The first steps have been taken on the long road to recovery in flood-ravaged Malawi. In January, flash floods damaged or destroyed countless homes, fields, and communities. An estimated 3,200 member families of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa – Malawi (LCCA) alone have lost their homes. And, the rainy season will continue for months.

LCCA leaders have received many calls from local congregational leaders who are seeking assistance for members. To begin, LCCA members and Kingdom Worker volunteers have been helping to distribute supply buckets with sheet plastic, nails, and blankets that can provide temporary housing. New permanent housing is still months away. In addition, nearly 20 LCCA church buildings have been completely washed away or damaged.

Malawi missionary Rev. Mark Panning and Christian Aid and Relief anticipate a three-step approach to aid. First is to meet the immediate need for temporary housing through the supply buckets. Distribution takes time, but is ongoing. Second is to repair or rebuild the damaged and destroyed LCCA churches. Malawian builders and contractors are in high demand; it could take quite a while to get on a builder’s schedule. The third step looks ahead to predicted food and water shortages. Many crops and fields were destroyed and water supplies tainted—ongoing food and water needs will have to be met.

So far, your generous gifts have provided about 500 of our brothers and sisters in Malawi with temporary assistance. WELS Christian Aid and Relief is accepting donations to its “Flood Disaster Relief” fund and will continue to send aid to Malawi as needs are determined. Please continue to keep our LCCA family, and all affected Malawians, in your prayers.

Read more from our WELS Missions blogs.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder