New President at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

At the end of this month, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., will experience a change in leadership. Seminary President Rev. Paul Wendland will be stepping down as president and will move back into the role of full-time classroom professor. Seminary Vice President Rev. Earle Treptow has accepted the call to serve as the seminary president and will officially begin his duties on July 1, 2019.

The role of the seminary president is an important one. It’s been said that “as the seminary goes, so goes the synod.” The seminary is the place where nearly all WELS pastors are trained, so it goes without saying that for the synod to remain faithful to God’s Word, the seminary will need to remain faithful to the doctrines of Scripture. It is the responsibility of the seminary president to ensure that the seminary carries out that responsibility.

The seminary president is also the spokesman for the seminary. Our synod looks to the seminary faculty to provide guidance and input on doctrinal matters. The Conference of Presidents often consults with the seminary faculty when discussing doctrinal issues. It is the role of the seminary president to speak for the faculty when discussions on doctrinal matters take place.

President Wendland first joined the seminary faculty in 2001 after serving in both world and home mission settings, in an established congregation, and as a professor at Northwestern College and Martin Luther College. He has served as seminary president since 2004. We are thankful for the years in which President Wendland has faithfully carried out these important responsibilities and pray for God’s continued blessings on his new role in the classroom.

Prior to coming to the seminary in 2016, President-elect Treptow served as a pastoral recruiter at Martin Luther College, as a pastor in British Columbia and Denver, Colorado, and as the president of the Nebraska District. As Treptow begins his role as seminary president, we can be thankful that God has blessed our seminary in the past and that those blessings will continue under the leadership of President Treptow.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder



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Assignments at Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Last week the synod’s Assignment Committee met in New Ulm, Minn., to assign teacher and staff ministry candidates. The Assignment Committee is comprised of the Conference of Presidents and is assisted by various advisors.

One hundred forty candidates were assigned to the teaching ministry. All candidates who were able to go anywhere were assigned. Many candidates that could be assigned to limited geographical areas (due to marriage or other circumstances) were assigned, and more of those will be assigned in the coming weeks.

Two staff minister candidates who could go anywhere were assigned; two that were limited by geography were not yet assigned but could be assigned in the future if calls become available.

The complete list of assignments can be found at

This week the Assignment Committee moves to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis. There the committee will assign vicars and pastoral candidates. The announcement of those assignments will take place on Thurs., May 23, at 10:00 a.m. The service can be viewed live online at

Our gracious God has provided candidates to serve in the public ministry, and he has moved them to say, “Here am I; send me!” We thank God for these gifts to his church and pray for his blessings on their service.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder



Mission and Ministry held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

From Feb. 5–7, students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., participated in Mission & Ministry, an annual three-day event organized by the students.

Under the theme “Work for the Harvest,” this event highlighted the worldwide work of WELS.

Each day featured a worship service, keynote address, and an update from WELS administration. In addition, to give these future pastors a cross-section of experiences they may face in ministry, 24 breakout sessions were offered in specific topics. These sessions included discussions on personal evangelism; cultivating a caring congregation; urban ministry; planting churches in rural areas; 125 years of ministry to the Apaches; and mission opportunities in Africa, Latin America, and Vietnam.

Also, to highlight synodical resources that are available to congregations, WELS organizations set up displays to share information about their work in God’s kingdom.

“Mission and Ministry refocuses us. It takes us away from our daily routine and reminds us why we study every day. The stories presenters share give us a glimpse of what it will be like to work together with them in God’s harvest field,” says senior Andrew Nemmers, one of the event organizers. “Especially in the middle of a long winter, it’s always helpful to have that reminder that there is a light at the end of the long tunnel of training for pastoral ministry.”

For photos of the event, visit the seminary’s Facebook page.

Seminary holds annual symposium

Almost 400 people attended Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s annual fall symposium from Sept 17-18 in Mequon, Wis. Pastors from across North America heard three papers presented on “The Pastor as Shepherd-Leader.” By virtue of his divine call, a pastor is both a loving shepherd and servant leader, yet the challenge can be knowing how and where to lead. Three speakers guided pastors and pastoral students through the thorny issues that surround pastoral leadership and offered clear and wise counsel to those who lead the flock of God.

Professor David Scharf, class of 2005, began the symposium with the paper, “St. Paul and Martin Luther: Paradigms of Shepherd-Leaders.” Scharf, a professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., outlined a paradigm for shepherd leadership using “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb.” He shared, “A shepherd-leader first recognizes that he is a sheep. Humility is in order. He is joyfully optimistic. He guides by training and encouraging others for ministry as well as by instructing his people in a gentle way. He loves God and loves people by supplying what people need and is consistent. Finally, a shepherd-leader knows his sheep and calls them by name.”

The second paper, presented by 1999 graduate Rev. Jonathan Schroeder, discussed “Shepherd-Leaders Under the Cross: Facing the Challenges.” Schroeder, pastor at Faith, Sharpsburg, Ga., addressed the hard idea that suffering and bearing the cross is part of life as a Christian. “Understanding what God is really like is imperative for shepherd-leaders who guide God’s people as they face challenges together. To show us what he is really like, God leads his shepherd and his flock to the unlikeliest of places: the cross,” he shared. “God puts his pastors and congregations in situations that test their faith, test their joy in ministry, test their trust in him. But he does those things to strengthen us, to mold us into the servants that he wants. That is what makes our congregational crosses so dear. When the potter puts his hands on you, run to his Word.”

For the final paper, Rev. Jonathan Hein, class of 1997, addressed the future. Hein, coordinator for WELS Congregational Services, presented “The Shepherd-Leader at Work: Moving Forward.” He reminded those in attendance, “God has called you a shepherd leader. To say, ‘I’m not a leader’ is more than self-pity. It is a denial of reality. God speaks; reality results. God has spoken; thus, you are a leader.” He encouraged the pastors to examine their leadership and ministries. “It seems to me that at times there is an unwillingness to examine how we are proclaiming the Word; to ask, ‘Are we proclaiming the Word in ways that makes sense, given our context?’ Sometimes, it seems we are hesitant to simply ask, ‘Is this the best we can do?’” He also reminded them of the freedom to lead with the gifts God has given them, “The LORD did not give Adam instructions on how to do everything. Instead, he made Adam in his likeness—possessing reason undergirded with purity. Likewise, as we provide leadership in his church, he simply does not provide a lot of detailed direction. We might like him to. He chooses not to, so that we might demonstrate our love for him through careful reasoning.”

The archive of the symposium is available at



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Seminary students learn about WELS missions and ministry

From Feb. 6–8, presenters with experience in mission work in North America and around the world spoke at Mission and Ministry, an annual three-day event at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., to introduce seminary students to the worldwide work of WELS.

Under the theme “Building on the Rock,” participants heard from world and home missionaries as well as congregational leaders. This provided future pastors a big-picture view of synod work. Because assignments, calls, and ministries will vary, three breakout sessions are offered each day, allowing students to learn more about areas of personal interest. Some of these topics included beginning a mission church, evangelism for the busy pastor, using teens in outreach, compassion ministry, getting involved in the community, Multi-Language Publications, and an update on the new hymnal.

In addition, more than 30 WELS areas of ministry and organizations set up display booths. This allowed students the opportunity to learn more about what synodical resources are available. “Mission and Ministry is important because it connects students training to be pastors with the work that is being done throughout their synod,” says senior Noah Willitz, one of the event organizers.

Not only does Mission and Ministry help students learn more about their synod, the organizers learned personal lessons that will carry into their ministry. “Mission and Ministry is like a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s good to hear presentations and rub shoulders with pastors doing some great evangelism,” says Thomas Gorzalski, another senior and organizer. “It is a good reminder that every church is a mission church. No matter where I am sent in a few months, I know evangelism will be a priority.”

Seminary students are not the only ones who benefited from the event. On Feb. 6, the junior class of pastor-track students at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., attended presentations, and the entire student body of Bethany Evangelical Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) attended sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. In all, almost 200 students, professors, and guests participated.

For photos of the event, visit the seminary’s Facebook page.

Grants encourage pastor-layperson partnership

Grow in Grace, the institute for pastoral growth at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., has awarded $500 grants to two congregations to encourage pastors and lay leaders to grow together in carrying out the gospel ministry entrusted to them.

Since 2014, a retired pastor and his wife have provided funding and the direction for these grants.

More than 20 congregations offered proposals this year; the grants were given to Lamb of God, Columbus, Ohio, and Peace, Aiken, S.C.

Lamb of God is holding a facilitated retreat for council members and other key members of the congregation. Its proposal reads, “The main focus will be to strongly define our goals and mission for the ministry we have before us; to refocus our efforts to where our strengths and abilities are most productive and our workers feel most useful; and to increase the open honest communication that will be necessary to be willing workers in the harvest.”

Peace is starting a leadership program for its congregation. The proposal states, “We have three levels of discipleship here. Peace 101 is our membership course. Peace Academy is regular and ongoing doctrinal study. And Peace Lutheran Institute is our inaugural program to raise up the next group of leaders to work, minister, and lead in our church. This year we are piloting the program to see what works best and grow it into a sustainable ministry that year in and year out is producing leaders at Peace.”

Past recipients even have looked beyond their own congregation. Zion, Akaska, S.D., received a grant in 2014 to hold a councilmen’s retreat for its entire circuit.

Prof. Richard Gurgel, director of Grow in Grace, says these grants connect well with the institute’s purpose to help pastors grow in their faith and in their callings as pastors, husbands, and fathers. “No doubt, vital to that growth is that the pastor doesn’t have the sense that he’s at this alone,” he says. “It’s encouraging congregations to share the joys and the challenges of ministry and not simply to look to the pastor to take care of everything.”

Gurgel says Grow in Grace is also hard at work preparing for the next Celebration of Ministry retreats, being held April 18-20, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas. Pastors and wives celebrating their 3-, 10-, 25-, and—new this year—35-year anniversary in the ministry will gather to reflect on these key ministry milestones, to be encouraged in their faith, and to prepare for the years ahead.

Learn more about Grow in Grace at