This past June, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), our sister synod here in the United States, observed the centennial of its organization during its annual synod convention held on the campus of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn.
The ELS was first organized in 1853 as the Norwegian Synod and has been in fellowship with WELS since the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872. After the majority of the Norwegian Synod decided to merge with other bodies that were not standing firmly on biblical doctrine, a small group of pastors and congregations reorganized as the synod that is now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in 1918.
We are thankful to God that one hundred years ago a very small number of faithful pastors and laymen stood firmly on God’s Word and made a very bold and courageous decision—a decision to establish a new, or rather reorganized, synod and head into what was humanly speaking a very uncertain future. In the century since that time, successors to those original members have stood firmly on the truth of God’s Word and have gone through difficult and challenging times. Yet through all those times of challenge and difficulty the Lord has enabled the ELS not just to survive but to thrive and flourish. He has enabled the ELS to establish a college and a seminary, to plant missions at home and abroad, and to continue preaching and teaching the pure truth of his Word.
How was that possible? It is because of the grace and promises of our God—a God who promised us that he would never leave us or forsake us, a God who told us that his Word would always accomplish his purposes, a God who told us that the gates of hell itself would not overcome his church. It is with his help, by his strength, and with his blessing, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod is what it is today.
WELS members today can be thankful to have the ELS as our partner in the gospel, to be joined and united with them in a common faith and a common mission, and to recognize that as we carry out that work together, it all depends on one thing—our gracious God in his Word.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). The CELC comprises 32 member churches worldwide, all of which are united by a common faith and confession. The CELC was formed almost 30 years after the dissolution of the Synodical Conference that had included the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Representatives of the CELC member churches gather at triennial meetings for encouragement, fellowship, theological study, cooperation in projects, and to speak internationally with a united voice. The group met in Grimma, Germany, for the ninth triennial convention in 2017. Its next meeting will take place in Seoul, South Korea, in 2020.
Rev. Gaylin Schmeling, president of the CELC, says, “In an era of uncertainty, the CELC continually points to Christ Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, the one way to heaven. Only through him can one find comfort and meaning in this life and the certain hope of eternal life beyond the grave. This treasure is present in the inerrant Word and the holy sacraments.”
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder
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WELS churches and schools featured in their local media.