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Changes in WELS administration

Early 2024 will see changes to the administration for two areas of ministry.


WELS Missions welcomes Mark Gabb as the new administrator for WELS Home Missions. Gabb began serving in this role in January following a vacancy in the position since spring 2022, when previous administrator Keith Free accepted a call to parish ministry.

Gabb is not new to the work of WELS Home Missions. He has served as a member of the Board for Home Missions for ten years and as chairman for three, taking on additional leadership responsibilities during the vacancy.

Gabb says Home Missions has been part of his life for as long as he can remember. His father was a pastor and planted a mission church in Texas; Gabb’s first parish assignment was to a mission congregation in Ohio; his brother—also a pastor—was assigned to plant a church in New York. When Gabb moved to Florida, he was appointed to serve on the district mission board of the South Atlantic District in 2006. “I was eager to do what I could to encourage missionaries and existing missions and help plant new churches in our district. It never occurred to me that Home Missions would become a major part of my life and ministry,” says Gabb.

Gabb is taking on this role during an important time: A new initiative, “100 Missions in 10 Years,” officially was launched at the 2023 synod convention. “Together we can do what most individual congregations can’t do alone, and that is plant new churches throughout North America,” he says. “We bring a wealth of expertise from our district mission board members and mission counselors, and we have a partnership with WELS Church Extension Fund that provides grants and loans to our new missions. All this helps us to carry out the outreach aspect of Christ’s Great Commission.”


Bryan Gerlach, director of the WELS Commission on Worship, has announced his intention to retire. He will partially retire mid-2024 but continue serving until the planning for next summer’s National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts is completed. He will fully retire after the conference takes place July 30–Aug. 2. In his partial retirement, he also will continue to focus on two publications—Preach the Word and Worship the Lord—and provide ongoing assistance to individuals and congregations on worship issues.

Paul Prange and Mark Gabb
Left: Paul Prange, new interim director of the Commission on Worship, served as the chairman of the Psalmody Committee for the WELS Hymnal Project. Right: Mark Gabb presented on home mission opportunities at the 2023 synod convention.

The Conference of Presidents has asked Paul Prange to begin serving immediately as the interim director of the Commission on Worship. Prange currently serves as administrator of the Board for Ministerial Education and chairman of the Joint Mission Council. He will retain these responsibilities. Prange will serve as interim director until a staffing review takes place at the end of 2024.

“Because Prange’s work will take place in the areas of ministerial education, missions, and worship, he will have the opportunity to develop increased coordination and cooperation among these various synodical entities,” says WELS President Mark Schroeder.

Author: FIC
Volume: 111, Number 02
Issue: February 2024

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