Two significant anniversaries

This past June, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), our sister synod here in the United States, observed the centennial of its organization during its annual synod convention held on the campus of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn.

The ELS was first organized in 1853 as the Norwegian Synod and has been in fellowship with WELS since the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872. After the majority of the Norwegian Synod decided to merge with other bodies that were not standing firmly on biblical doctrine, a small group of pastors and congregations reorganized as the synod that is now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in 1918.

We are thankful to God that one hundred years ago a very small number of faithful pastors and laymen stood firmly on God’s Word and made a very bold and courageous decision—a decision to establish a new, or rather reorganized, synod and head into what was humanly speaking a very uncertain future. In the century since that time, successors to those original members have stood firmly on the truth of God’s Word and have gone through difficult and challenging times. Yet through all those times of challenge and difficulty the Lord has enabled the ELS not just to survive but to thrive and flourish. He has enabled the ELS to establish a college and a seminary, to plant missions at home and abroad, and to continue preaching and teaching the pure truth of his Word.

How was that possible? It is because of the grace and promises of our God—a God who promised us that he would never leave us or forsake us, a God who told us that his Word would always accomplish his purposes, a God who told us that the gates of hell itself would not overcome his church. It is with his help, by his strength, and with his blessing, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod is what it is today.

WELS members today can be thankful to have the ELS as our partner in the gospel, to be joined and united with them in a common faith and a common mission, and to recognize that as we carry out that work together, it all depends on one thing—our gracious God in his Word.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). The CELC comprises 32 member churches worldwide, all of which are united by a common faith and confession. The CELC was formed almost 30 years after the dissolution of the Synodical Conference that had included the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Representatives of the CELC member churches gather at triennial meetings for encouragement, fellowship, theological study, cooperation in projects, and to speak internationally with a united voice. The group met in Grimma, Germany, for the ninth triennial convention in 2017. Its next meeting will take place in Seoul, South Korea, in 2020.

Rev. Gaylin Schmeling, president of the CELC, says, “In an era of uncertainty, the CELC continually points to Christ Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, the one way to heaven. Only through him can one find comfort and meaning in this life and the certain hope of eternal life beyond the grave. This treasure is present in the inerrant Word and the holy sacraments.”

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder



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New outreach film set to be released

The new WELS outreach film To the Ends of the Earth will be released Sept. 1.

The film tells the story of the apostle Paul and his work in Philippi. Its title is taken directly from Jesus’ command to his disciples at his Ascension: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “Since the movie focuses on mission activity, it reminds us of the important work that we have as we serve Christ—to reach out with the gospel to the ends of the earth,” says Rev. Mike Hintz, retired director of WELS Commission on Evangelism who serves as a consultant for the film.

That’s why film resources, including worship materials; adult, small group, teen, and children Bible studies; an Advent by Candlelight program; and personal reflections, will discuss how to witness and share your faith.

One way congregations can use the film and its resources is in connection with WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday, which the Conference of Presidents is encouraging all congregations to observe on Oct. 21. “It’s an opportunity to give thanks as we look at the ways we in WELS as congregations and a synod work to reach out with the gospel, but also to look at opportunities that are still around us and how to make the most of them as we continue to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth,” says Hintz.

By Sept. 1, every congregation will receive a free DVD of the movie for this purpose. Film resources will also be available for download by mid-August. “We pray congregations will take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate God’s blessings on his church and to renew our commitment to the Great Commission to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:18-20),” says Rev. Kurt Lueneburg, director of the Ministry of Christian Giving.

Congregations can bulk order additional copies of the DVD to use as giveaways to congregation members and prospects or for other outreach efforts. The DVDs are available in boxes of 100 DVDs at only $200 per box, plus shipping. Bulk orders must be received by Sept. 7, 2018.

This movie is the final installment in a series of four outreach movies that are a collaboration between WELS Commission on Evangelism, WELS Commission on Discipleship, Northwestern Publishing House, WELS Multi-Language Publications, and Boettcher+Trinklein Television, Inc. Funding from CM CARES, the Church Mutual Insurance Company Foundation; WELS Foundation’s Shared Blessings donor advised fund; WELS Multi-Language Publications; and gifts from groups, congregations, and individuals helped make this film possible.

Learn more about the film at

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A helping hand home and abroad

The administrative committee for WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved $317,403 for humanitarian aid work in fiscal year 2018-19. These are projects developed by WELS home and world missionaries to reflect Christ’s love to the people of their community and open doors to share the gospel. Projects range from providing school supplies, outfitting medical supplies, drilling drinking water wells, and offering literacy and skills classes. Eighteen mission fields, both home and world, will be receiving humanitarian aid funding.

Christian Aid and Relief Chairman Rev. Robert Hein, says, “Humanitarian aid projects help our missions put Christ’s love into action by meeting community needs. As missionaries develop relationships with the people they serve, they also find opportunities to tell people about Jesus. In some world mission fields, hostile to Christianity, humanitarian aid is essential to keep the doors open to share the gospel.”

Hein explains that all projects originate in the mission fields as the missionaries discover opportunities to help. Then the projects are brought to the Christian Aid and Relief administrative committee as well as to the WELS Missions administrators for approval. Every project that met the criteria received funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

While many initiatives are carried over year after year, new projects are also funded each year. Hein says, “Traditionally we have supported humanitarian aid projects in our world mission fields. Recently more of our home missions are bringing us requests, especially in cross-cultural situations. One new grant provides assistance to a mission in Colorado helping needy families in their community with school supplies. A new project in Haiti helps establish a sewing institute at the site of one of our Lutheran orphanage schools. They will help orphans, widows, and lower income adults learn a useful trade. It’s also a great way to build connections.”

To view a complete list of humanitarian aid projects, visit

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New investment option for endowment funds

Beginning in August, WELS Investment Funds (WIF) will be offering a new investment option designed specifically to meet the objectives of endowments.

The new portfolio, WELS Endowment Fund, will comprise 75 percent equity and 25 percent fixed income. In addition to this new option, WELS Investment Funds will continue to offer the WELS Balanced Fund, WELS Equity Fund, and WELS Income Fund.

On multiple occasions Vanguard Institutional Advisory Services® (Vanguard), WELS Investment Fund’s investment consultant, presented reports to the WIF board on alternative asset allocations for endowment funds. The reports identified the expected return and volatility statistics for various asset allocations over a 10-year and 30-year time horizon. Vanguard noted the 75 percent equity and 25 percent fixed income allocation was commonly used for endowment funds, and after a thorough evaluation, the board determined this option could benefit WELS ministries’ investments.

WELS Investment Funds offers four investment portfolios:

  • NEW WELS Endowment Fund–75% equity, 25% fixed income
  • WELS Balanced Fund–60% equity, 40% fixed income
  • WELS Equity Fund–100% equity
  • WELS Income Fund–100% fixed income

WELS Investment Funds provides cost-effective, professionally managed investment portfolios exclusively for WELS and WELS affiliated ministries. By pooling resources with other congregations, ministries and churches can take advantage of lower-cost, institution-priced investment opportunities.

Learn more about WELS Investment Funds

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