Tag Archive for: Together09162014

Congregations reach out with WELS movie

On Sept. 13, more than 200 people attended a community movie night featuring Come Follow Me sponsored by St. Peter, St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. This was the congregation’s fourth annual outdoor, drive-in style movie event.

Mr. Dave Stuht, staff minister at St. Peter, says, “Come Follow Me is an excellent movie because it is short and sweet but it gives community members the answers they will need when dealing with guilt, reminding them that Jesus forgave Peter and he forgave you and me.”

Come Follow Me was released in fall 2013 and is the winner of awards at three Christian film festivals this year. It is the second in a series of four outreach movies that are a collaboration between WELS Commissions on Evangelism and Adult Discipleship; Northwestern Publishing House; WELS Multi-Language Publications; and Boettcher+Trinklein Television, Inc. Road to Emmaus, the first film in the series, outlines God’s plan of salvation.

St. Peter has shown snippets from Road to Emmaus during previous years’ movie events. This year, though, “we wanted to be bold like an eagle!” says Stuht.

Other WELS congregations are also using Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me as ways to reach out to their communities. St. Paul, Menomonie, Wis., has rented an area theater and is planning an outreach effort for its community on Sept. 18. After viewing Come Follow Me, audience members will have a chance to talk via Skype with the movie’s director and producer, Mr. Steve Boettcher.

Good Shepherd’s, West Allis, Wis., has purchased 2,000 DVDs of Road to Emmaus and 1,200 DVDs of Come Follow Me. Mr. Mark Bergemann, a member of Good Shepherd’s, explains that most of these DVDs have already been given away to new residents in the congregation’s neighborhood; neighbors attending the annual block party; parents of children attending vacation Bible school; and at other outreach events, such as this summer’s community festival in which Good Shepherd’s distributed more than 400 DVDs.

Good Shepherd’s also offers DVDs of Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me for free on its Web site. After Good Shepherd’s sent DVDs of both films to Buenos Aires, Argentina, it received word back that they were a real blessing.

As Bergemann notes, “These films give a clear gospel message.”

Congregations can order copies of the movie in bulk for members and prospects for only $2 per copy at www.comefollowmemovie.com. Individual copies are available for $14.50 through Northwestern Publishing House at www.nph.net or 800-662-6022. The movie also serves as the 2013-14 Walking Together emphasis.

To learn more, visit www.wels.net/comefollowme.

Non-resident missionary to Nigeria called

In an attempt to strengthen national leadership and provide more hands-on opportunities to work with leaders and members, the Africa Committee of WELS World Missions has called Rev. Douglas Weiser to serve part-time as a non-resident missionary to our two sister synods in Nigeria, Christ the King and All Saints. Weiser started his call in July.

Weiser has served as liaison to Nigeria since 2002 and has conducted 21 field visits since that time. As liaison, he traveled to Nigeria twice a year for three weeks at a time as well as arranged instructors to teach at the Nigerian seminary—besides serving a parish call in Bellevue, Washington. Now as a non-resident missionary, he will make quarterly visits for a month at a time as well as have more time to do administrative work and conduct presentations back in the U.S. “With dividing my time between two synods, [before] I could only spend five or six days with each and only meet with leaders. There are all kinds of other groups and people I should spend time with,” says Weiser, now retired from full-time ministry. “This gives me a lot more time for mentoring and hands-on training.”

WELS especially works closely with Christ the King and All Saints in training their pastors. Since the seminary opened in 1992, WELS professors and pastors have traveled to Nigeria to teach courses. Currently seven students from All Saints and three students from Christ the King study on Christ the King’s seminary campus in Uruk Uso. Weiser says that if classes stay on schedule, these students will graduate in January 2015, the fourth graduating class from the Nigerian seminary.

Weiser made his first trip to Nigeria as a non-resident missionary in July. On that trip he presented several courses requested from the president of All Saints at three different locations as well as helped dedicate the first synod office and preseminary classroom for All Saints. Now All Saints will offer its own preseminary courses for two years before students take three years of seminary courses at Uruk Uso.

Weiser, along with Dr. E. Allen Sorum and Rev. Scott Mews, plans to return to Nigeria in October. Sorum and Mews will be teaching classes at the seminary while Weiser visits various congregations to meet with the national leadership. An August teaching team’s visit had to be canceled due to an outbreak of ebola in Nigeria. “Our office, in conjunction with the risk management team, will continue to monitor the ebola situation with the understanding that we cannot put our called workers in harm’s way,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator for WELS World Missions.

Currently 18 national pastors serve more than 50 congregations and 4,200 members in our two sister synods in Nigeria. While Congregation Mission Offerings provide partial funding, the growth of the work in Nigeria is made possible by special gifts.

“I pray that there’s a growing army of trained confessional Lutheran pastors who can take the leadership of the Nigerian church well into the future,” says Schlomer.

Read more about the Nigerian church.

Special Ministries coordinators meet

On Sept. 9 and 10, district Special Ministries coordinators and the Commission of Special Ministries met at the Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., to discuss the many aspects of WELS Special Ministries—a meeting they hold once a year.

Rev. Jim Behringer, director of the Commission on Special Ministries, says, “The annual meeting of the Commission on Special Ministries and the district Special Ministries coordinators is vital to our work. The coordinators are the people who communicate with our called workers and churches, making them aware of ministry resources for unusual circumstances. The commission members have the responsibility to continue to develop these ministry resources. Everyone discusses how to improve our ministry to people with special needs.”

Special Ministries works to meet the ministry needs and share the gospel with people who are experiencing either disabilities or special circumstances. Eight areas comprise Special Ministries: the Care Committee for Called Workers, Mission to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Committee on Mental Health Needs, Health and Wellness Committee, Prison Ministry, Military Services, Mission for the Visually Impaired, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry.

Behringer says, “We discussed how to arouse the love and compassion of church members for those with special needs. We are seeing more opportunities for lay members to use their gifts to serve others.”

The group also took note of three important servants to Special Ministries who died in the last year: Mr. Alfons Woldt, former Special Ministries administrator; Rev. Carl Ziemer, Special Ministries administrator until 2012; and Mr. Dave Nack, Prison Ministry administrator. The Conference of Presidents will be issuing a call for the Prison Ministry administrator this fall; acall for nominations has been issued.

To learn more about Special Ministries, visit www.wels.net/special-ministries.

Michigan Lutheran Seminary to host synod convention

Planning is underway for the 63rd biennial convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod to be held at Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) in Saginaw, Mich., July 27-30, 2015. More than 400 delegates will be meeting under the theme “One in Christ.” The synod’s first vice president, Rev. James Huebner, will present an essay on the theme.

MLS President Rev. Joel Petermann is eagerly looking forward to hosting the convention. “MLS belongs to the members of WELS and operates at their direction. Our purpose remains to provide a continuous flow of young people to train to be the pastors, teachers, and staff ministers who will fill these important positions in congregations and as missionaries in our country and beyond. Our synod has provided us with an excellent facility to do this, and we are delighted to have delegates visit and see how well it serves us as we fulfill our purpose,” says Petermann.

Conventions are held at three of the synodical schools on a rotating basis. “The last time MLS hosted the synod convention (2009) our enrollment was about 180. Today, by God’s grace, our enrollment is at 230 including 36 students from outside the Michigan District or from international locations,” says Petermann. “The delegates will enjoy seeing a number of improvements on our campus. Our dormitory rooms were remodeled this summer, and most of our delegates will wake up to a carpeted floor instead of cold tiles under their feet. They will have Internet access in their rooms and in our convention hall thanks to a new wireless system throughout our campus.”

During the convention, called workers and lay members will hear presentations, discuss issues, and make decisions related to the synod’s work, including setting a ministry plan (budget) for the next biennium. Two offices to be filled by election are the synod president and second vice president, positions currently held by Rev. Mark Schroeder and Rev. Joel Voss, respectively. Both are eligible for re-election to another four-year term.

Serving in Christ,

President Mark Schroeder