Tag Archive for: wls

Supporting those God calls to be pastors

Dear Friend,

Would an employee of the IRS make a good pastor? What about a tradesman or a business owner? Jesus thought it would work quite well. Matthew, Peter, and John were some of the first pastors that Jesus sent out to preach and teach in his name and to proclaim the saving message of the gospel. It wasn’t their first career. It was later in life when Jesus called them first to follow him and then to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). Jesus blessed those first disciples with a second career. He still does that today.

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS) in Mequon, Wis., prepares pastors. Many of these seminary students follow a traditional path that begins at a young age and ends with an assignment to a place of service for a first official career as a pastor. The seminary also prepares older men who have had previous careers, perhaps as tax collectors and fishermen, or maybe lawyers and police officers. Both the traditional and non-traditional path and pastor are good, and congregations are blessed and thankful when a well-trained pastor serves them.

It’s no secret that many congregations in our synod lack a pastor. At the seminary’s assignment day this year, 90 churches requested a graduate pastor, and 63 of them didn’t get one. There were a total of 136 pastor vacancies synodwide. We keep praying to our risen and ascended Savior for more workers for the fields. We ask the Holy Spirit to move more boys and men to consider pastoral ministry as a career. We also strive to support those who desire to be pastors, whether they are young or old, whether they follow the traditional or the non-traditional path.

A recent task force of the Board for Ministerial Education evaluated the support offered for non-traditional pre-seminary students and how it might be enhanced. There are unique challenges for a man (and perhaps his family) when he is older in life and considering a career change. One of the recommendations of the task force is to have a dynamic online resource for sharing information, networking, and encouraging. Another way to support pre-seminary students, regardless of their path, is to help with the costs of education.

Rising educational costs are no secret either, and paying for an education is particularly challenging for a person who is considering leaving a career (and likely steady income) to go back to school. An academic schedule and classroom expectations make it difficult to work a full-time job. Moving an established household can be expensive.

To support pre-seminary students, Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., which trains men for seminary and men and women for teaching, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary have highly prioritized student financial assistance. They are making aggressive efforts to limit student debt so that pastors and teachers do not carry that burden with them into their first assignments. You can help in this effort. Consider a donation to the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Scholarship Fund, which directly supports traditional students, as well as those men like Peter, Matthew, and John who wish to serve as a pastor as a second career.

Thank you for your help!

In Christ,
Rev. Duane Rodewald
Chairman, WELS Board for Ministerial Education

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you called the Twelve from their various backgrounds to serve in ministry, and you continue to call men to be pastors today. With the demand for pastors exceeding the number available to serve, we ask for your help. Send your Spirit to guide men young and old to train for pastoral ministry and make us eager to help them through our prayers, encouragement, and offerings. Amen.

Pastors attend Celebration of Ministry retreats

Another successful year of Celebration of Ministry retreats is complete. From April 25–29, Grow in Grace, the institute for continuing education at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., hosted more than 400 people for the ninth annual retreat. Four retreats were held at the Drury Plaza Hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, for pastors who are celebrating 3, 10, 25, and 35 years since graduating from the seminary. After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, it was a blessing to be able to again offer encouragement and support for pastors and their wives in this way.

These retreats build relationships with ministry peers and offer encouragement through worship, Bible studies, workshops, and presentations. Bible study topics covered Ezekiel, the pastoral epistles, Psalms, and Colossians. Separate and joint workshops were offered for pastors and their wives and covered topics such as time management, caring for others and yourself, focusing on your own gifts, and financial challenges and opportunities.

Though these workshops and Bible studies are a key part of the retreats, fellowship with classmates, worship services, and a beautiful location also play a part in the experience.

When Grow in Grace initially began the Celebration of Ministry retreats, only pastors celebrating 10 years since graduation and their wives attended. In more recent years, the event has included pastors celebrating three years; 25 years; and, in 2018, 35 years since graduation.

The 2023 retreat plans are already underway, with the retreats set to take place in San Antonio from April 12–14. To the graduating classes of 1988, 1998, 2013, and 2020, make sure to check your mailboxes this month for your save the date to your Celebration of Ministry retreat.

 

 

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Assignments and graduations at our ministerial education schools

The recent disruptions caused by the COVID-19 virus have had a great impact on our synodical schools. In-person classes had to be canceled at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis.; Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn.; Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis.; and Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich. In addition, decisions have now been made to hold virtual events for the reading of assignments at MLC and WLS and for graduation ceremonies at all four schools. The Assignment Committee will be meeting via video conference to make the assignments in the days before the assignments are announced.

At MLC, 171 teacher and staff ministry candidates are available for assignment. At WLS, 26 pastoral candidates and 28 vicar candidates will be assigned.

Even though graduations and assignments will take place in an entirely different format this year, the reasons to celebrate remain the same. God continues to provide workers for his harvest field, and we continue to thank him for these blessings and for the faithful work done by our faculties and students.

You can participate in these happy events by joining the online events at the schools, accessible via the schools’ websites:

Martin Luther College
Graduation: Saturday, May 16, 10:00 a.m. (Central)
Announcement of assignments: Saturday, May 16, 11:15 a.m. (Central)

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
Graduation and announcement of assignments (pastors and vicars): Thursday, May 21, 10:00 a.m. (Central)

Luther Preparatory School
Saturday, May 23, 10:00 a.m. (Central)

Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Saturday, May 23, 9:30 a.m. (Central) (10:30 a.m. [Eastern])

If you know of a graduate from one of these schools in your congregation or extended family, let them know how much you appreciate them and that the entire synod is keeping them in our prayers.

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS 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 mlc-wels.edu.

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 wls.wels.net.

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

 

 

Treptow accepts call to be seminary president

On Monday, Oct. 1, Prof. Earle Treptow accepted the call to succeed Prof. Paul Wendland as president of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., at the end of the 2018–19 school year. Treptow, the seminary’s vice president, joined the faculty in 2016. He teaches systematic theology and Old Testament.

“Prof. Earle Treptow is an experienced leader, an excellent scholar, and a gospel-hearted and humble man. He will make an outstanding president,” says Wendland.

Wendland, who joined the faculty in 2001 and has been serving as president since 2004,  will remain at the seminary and transition to a teaching-only role.

“I’m grateful for this transition time,” notes Treptow. “I will have time to observe a bit more carefully what the president is asked to do and to talk with him about why we do what we do. I have been trying to remind myself, though, that I have not been asked to replace Paul Wendland but to take over the duties he has carried out. There is only one Paul Wendland. The combination of his love for the gospel, his intellect, his passion, and his zeal for missions have been a great blessing for the seminary and our synod.”

Rev. Jonathan Scharf, chairman of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Governing Board, agrees. “We thank President Wendland for his work leading the seminary,” says Scharf. “He has kept the seminary focused on its mission of preparing workers to serve God’s kingdom in the pastoral ministry. We’re also thankful to the Lord of the church that he’s given the seminary a man such as Prof. Treptow, whose many gifts will be a blessing to our church body as he serves as seminary president.”

For more information on Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, visit wls.wels.net.

 

 

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