In May 2018, 27 men graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis. WLS prepares men to begin pastoral ministry by providing them with spiritual, theological, and professional training.
The seminary also provides pastors with opportunities for continued growth in all their callings through its institute, Grow in Grace. Grow in Grace offers continuing education courses, a mentoring initiative for new graduates, a clearinghouse of resources for pastors, and an annual retreat for pastors who are celebrating milestones in their ministries.
For more information, visit wls.wels.net.
Preparing pastors—then and now
Rev. Bill Tackmier (pictured), professor of Old Testament and homiletics at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, shared these thoughts in the 2018 issue of Preach the Gospel.
Sometimes when I walk past the statue of Martin Luther on my way to my classroom, I’m reminded how long the Psalms have been taught to young men who are training for the ministry. Luther taught the Psalms several times during his years at the University of Wittenberg.
In the classroom I’m reminded how much has changed, though. I walk into a room brightened with electric lights. Our students all have laptops. I project much of what I’m teaching on a screen. We have so many more resources available than Luther and his students had. The first time he taught Psalms, he didn’t even have the Hebrew text. He taught it on the basis of the Latin text. At the click of a mouse, our students can access the latest studies in the Psalms and even draw up high resolution photographs of the Psalm manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
But many things have not changed. We are sifting through every word of God’s inspired Scriptures to mine even the subtle nuances in meaning from them. I help my students discover what it means that Christ was begotten by his Father from eternity (Psalm 2:7), how he would die on a cross for our sins (Psalm 22), and how he would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:9,10).
Many seminaries today teach that the Psalms that foretell what Christ would do really were not intended as messianic prophecies at all. We test such theories and rediscover why men like Luther have recognized that these prophecies cannot refer to anyone but God’s incarnate Son. The other professors at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and I are helping these pastors-in-the-making discover these wonderful truths so that they can proclaim them to their congregations in years to come.
Did you know?
During the 2018–19 school year, 88 students are attending classes on campus and 26 students are serving as vicars for congregations throughout North America.
Pastoral Studies Institute
Dr. E. Allen Sorum (pictured), a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, travels around the world teaching and sharing the gospel in his role as director of the Pastoral Studies Institute, a partnership between WLS and WELS Missions. The Pastoral Studies Institute guides and assists spiritual leaders around the globe through their preseminary and seminary training.
Sorum notes, “After an intense week of gospel teaching, people respond with an outpouring of affection in the name of Jesus. This man is one of the key leaders in Liberia, and his hard exterior soon melted in the face of gospel teaching.”
Mark Zondag (pictured with his wife, Sarah) served at Grace, Scroggins, Texas, as a summer assistant, but his situation was different than that of his peers. “The church I was serving didn’t have a pastor, so my main duties were to lead the members in worship and preach every Sunday, as well as lead Bible class,” Zondag explains. “I had to write new sermons while I was serving at Grace, under the direction of retired district president Vilas Glaeske.”
Zondag learned many lessons in those six weeks. “The greatest lesson I learned is that everyone comes to church with a different struggle,” he says. “As someone training to be a pastor, I need to present the gospel clearly to them, because they came to hear about Christ. This is the greatest joy a pastor has, to preach Christ to the world, especially those struggling.”
In 2018, Erik Janke and Scott Henrich (pictured with President Paul Wendland) received the seminary’s Timothy and Titus Awards for their senior theses.
Janke’s paper explored the pastor’s weekly question, “Have I been faithful?” Henrich’s paper, titled “Race and the Lutheran Pastor,” underscored the importance of discussions about race and the necessity of careful communication between the pastor and his members regarding race. All the senior theses are available at essays.wls.wels.net.