The format was different, but the purpose and results were unchanged.
The 66th Biennial Convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod was held at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., on July 26-28. Last January, the potential restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic led the Conference of Presidents to alter the format and location of the convention. The location was moved from Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., to Luther Preparatory School because of the more stringent restrictions existing in Michigan at the time. The format was changed to a include about 20 percent of the delegates as in-person delegates, with the remaining delegates participating virtually. Elections and floor committee work was done via videoconference prior to the convention.
All things considered, the convention itself took place without significant problems with communication or participation by the virtual delegates.
The opening worship provided an inspiring start to the convention and focused on the convention theme “Here we stand.” The convention theme recalled the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s bold stance on the Scriptures at the Diet of Worms in 1521. Rev. Joel Voss, second vice president of the synod, preached the sermon.
Some significant items of business that were addressed:
- Rev. James Huebner was reelected to another four-year term as the first vice president of the synod; Rev. Robert Pasbrig was reelected as the synod’s recording secretary.
- President Earle Treptow of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary delivered the convention essay reviewing the significance of Luther’s confession and its importance for the church today.
- The convention approved the synod’s Ministry Financial Plan, which outlines the financial support for the work of the synod for the next two years. Chief Financial Officer Mr. Kyle Egan also reported that the synod ended last year in very good financial shape in all areas.
- The proposed change in the synod’s pension plan from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan was approved and will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2022.
- The convention endorsed an ambitious plan by the Board for Home Missions to open 100 new missions over ten years, beginning in 2023.
- The convention was introduced to the new WELS hymnal and formally adopted it as the synod’s hymnal. The new hymnal will be available in early fall.
Many other reports outlined and celebrated the many blessings that God has graciously given to our synod during the past two years and the many opportunities he is giving us for continuing to spread the message of Christ to the world.
The next convention is scheduled to be held at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., in 2023.
Find all the convention news, archived livestream video, and photos at wels.net/2021synodconvention.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder