Tag Archive for: Together10072014

Relevant yet true to its roots

“Northwestern Publishing House materials . . . lift your spirits and keep you focused on Christ for your hope,” says Rev. Gary Pufahl, pastor at Christ, Big Bend, Wis.

Pufahl is one of several Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) customers who were featured in a new video that highlights the impact NPH has on those it serves. Congregations recently received a copy of this video that shares how God works through NPH, the synod’s publishing house since 1891.

“NPH remains the trusted publisher for WELS,” says Mr. Bill Ziche, NPH president. “We’re working hard to fulfill that and to make sure we’re meeting people’s needs.”

NPH has called two new editors to continue to look at new ways to address the spiritual needs of people today. Rev. Dan Schroeder will be working to refresh existing Bible studies and to create new ones that are relevant in today’s world. In a newly established position, Rev. Christopher Doerr will be focusing on creating resources to reach newer Christians within WELS as well as those who may or may not be Christian outside WELS.

Using electronic means to distribute its products is another way NPH is looking to reach a wider audience as well as meet the needs of its longtime customers. Over 110 new, best-selling, and classic NPH book titles are available as e-books, and Meditations, a collection of daily devotions and prayers, is now available as an Apple app. Since its release in March, more than 16,500 people from 138 countries have downloaded the Meditations app to take advantage of this daily dose of God’s Word.

Besides creating new products, NPH is working to let people know about its wide array of materials that is already available. Congregations and schools can host book fairs in which NPH will ship a customizable selection of materials to the church, literally bringing the Milwaukee store to any location. NPH itself is hosting weekly and monthly events at its Milwaukee store to reach out in its community. “Whether [our neighbors] are church members or not, we have an opportunity to reach them with the Word through our ministry at NPH,” says Ziche.

A refreshed logo, with a cross and Bible in the forefront, demonstrates NPH’s resolve to carry out its mission to deliver biblically sound Christ-centered resources within WELS and beyond. “The updated logo symbolizes what NPH is doing,” says Ziche. “We’re staying true to our roots in what we do and true to our mission and calling, but at the same time we’re making sure that we’re fresh and relevant in today’s world.”

Watch the video and learn more about the meaning behind NPH’s logo.

New HR director at WELS

Mr. Dennis Maurer has been named director of Human Resources for WELS.

Maurer began serving at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis., Oct. 1. He oversees the personnel functions for the synod and is responsible for the implementation of personnel policies, recruitment, compensation, benefits, performance management, and employee relations. Human Resources also serves as a resource to WELS congregations and to affiliated groups and entities. “I’m here to help with any day-to-day issue that may arise,” says Maurer. “I look forward to assisting our congregations and schools with their questions.”

The outgoing director of Human Resources, Mr. Todd Scott, accepted a similar position for Washington County in Wisconsin in July after two years of service to the synod.

Maurer has held senior human resources management positions the past 17 years for Rockwell Automation and Telsmith, Inc. He is excited to share his knowledge with the synod. “I couldn’t ask for a more worthwhile position in human resources than to support and assist the people who are serving our Lord,” says Maurer. “The synod, and my church in particular, has been very good to me and my family over the years, and the opportunity to serve my Lord in this position appeals to me greatly.”

Maurer, a member of St. John’s, Wauwatosa, Wis., is married (Lois) with four children: a son at UW-Madison; a son in his senior year at Wisconsin Lutheran High School; Milwaukee, Wis.; and nine-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.

Annual symposium looks at preaching

On Sept. 22-23, 400 pastors and students attended the annual symposium at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. The topic of this year’s symposium was preaching.

Rev. Paul Wendland, seminary president, opened the symposium by reminding those in attendance of the importance of the words they speak. “Words often seem like an insubstantial thing. They are spoken. They are heard. Then they are gone,” he said. “But not this Word. Jesus’ words are spirit. They are life. Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus’ words do not. We are privileged to speak those words.”

Three speakers then addressed how 21st-century Lutheran preachers can clearly proclaim law and gospel in our rapidly changing, increasingly diverse, and biblically illiterate culture.

In the first essay, Rev. Michael Jensen, St. Mark, Watertown, Wis., looked at how pastors can trace their preaching roots to Jesus. He shared, “The Messiah shows us what our preparation and preaching is to be. Like our Messiah, we do not come to announce law-based tips for better living. We come to announce something other worldly, something that cannot be known or experienced apart from God’s proclamation. To proclaim this gospel is our sole reason for entering the pulpit.”

Presenting the second paper, Rev. Andrew Bauer, New Life, Lake Zurich, Ill., traced the history of some famous American Evangelical preachers and their emphases and styles. “For people whose activity of ‘preaching’ is so closely bound up with who we are, namely ‘preachers,’ it is a given that we will be interested in our craft, interested about hearing preaching in our circles and other circles, interested in learning what others have done, giving thanks for the good while marking the bad,” he shared.

For the final presentation of the symposium, Rev. Phillip Sievert, Lord of Life, Thornton, Colo., looked at today’s culture and how it affects both the preacher and the listener. “Twenty centuries after Peter proclaimed the gospel on the streets of Jerusalem and Paul preached on the streets of Athens, the world we live in and the people to whom we preach, are becoming more and more influenced by a post-Christian landscape,” he said. “In a way, we are moving from an Acts 2 cultural context to an Acts 17 setting; from a world shaped by Christianity to a world that is pushing Christianity further and further into the background. As Lutheran preachers, we will want to gain insight in how to speak with such an ever-changing culture in a way that communicates as clearly as possible God’s unchanging truth and the gospel of our Lord and Savior.”

All the papers and reactions are available at http://wlsce.net/symposium and archived video of the essays can be found at http://new.livestream.com/welslive.

CMO gifts show increase

Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) for September totaled $1,718,829, an increase of more than $280,000 (plus 19.5 percent) over the previous year. Year to date, CMO receipts are $14,283,643 compared to $13,945,002 at the same point in 2013. This represents an increase of 2.4 percent.

Overall, congregations are keeping pace with their commitments through September, with total gifts representing 101 percent of what was committed.

We thank God for moving his people to share so generously in their gifts to support the work we do together as a synod. We can also thank our congregations, members, and called workers for their faithfulness in their stewardship efforts.

As we enter the time of year when many congregations are emphasizing our God-given mission, this news can be a wonderful reminder not only of God’s continuing gracious work among us but also of the many opportunities he is giving us to take the saving gospel to as many people as possible.

Serving with you in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder