WELS’ 67th Biennial Synod Convention was held July 31–Aug. 3, at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw, Mich., under the theme “Embrace the Cross—Anticipate the Crown.” Three hundred forty-eight convention delegates met in 19 floor committees to consider the synod’s work.
The opening and closing worship service sermons as well as the five convention devotions focused on the book of Revelation. The opening service was held at St. Paul, Saginaw, Mich. “It was a beautiful service,” says Peter Yee from Apostles, San Jose, Calif. “The singing and sermon were uplifting,” he says. “When you’re all one in faith and worshiping together, it’s very powerful. The service energized me.”
One of the first official actions of the convention was the re-election of WELS President Mark Schroeder, who has been serving in that position since 2007. As he accepted the call to serve in this role for another four-year term, Schroeder noted, “It’s been a joy and a privilege to serve you and our Lord in this position.”
In addition, Joel Voss, pastor at Resurrection, Centerville, Ohio, was re-elected as the synod’s second vice president. He was first elected to this position in 2009.
Other convention business included:
- A presentation by Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services, that offered convention delegates a picture of the current state of WELS and opportunities for the future. The basis for his presentation was the 2022 WELS Statistical Summary and Analysis. Although some statistics are sobering, Hein feels confident in the future of WELS. He notes, “This is not a time for us to cower or shake over the number of losses. It’s a time to stand up and ask God to give us courage and strength and to love our community rather than lambast our community for becoming post-Christian. Let’s love our community and bring Christ to them. Now is the time for us to do it.”
- Support for the proposed ministry financial plan (budget) for the next two fiscal years. The ministry financial plan includes support for WELS Ministerial Education, Home and World Missions, Congregation and District Ministry, and general ministry. Matthew Brown, a pastor delegate from the South Central District, served as chairman of the convention floor committee that dealt with the ministry financial plan. “It is with joyful thanks for the blessings of our gracious God that we note that WELS is financially strong,” he said. “We ask the Holy Spirit to continue to inspire his people to give as they have been given, in support of our synod’s task to hold before the world the good news of Jesus.”
- Calls to action to increase recruitment of called workers and find solutions for the high level of called worker vacancies. Delegates voted to create a Pastoral Ministry Shortage Task Force and a Recruitment Task Force and to encourage WELS members with degrees in other fields to consider training for the ministry of the gospel. As Paul Prange, administrator of the Board for Ministerial Education, emphasized, “Pray for more workers.”
- Discussion regarding a proposal for the Conference of Presidents to “prepare a pastoral brief emphasizing the importance of justice and analyzing critical theories in light of Scripture.” The resolution passed.
- Encouragement to continue the informal conversations between WELS, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. In 2012, WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations determined that circumstances were appropriate to resume discussions with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod outside the framework of fellowship. Each year leadership from the three church bodies meet so that they can clearly understand the doctrinal positions of the others and to remove any misunderstandings that have developed. Delegates to the 2023 synod convention agreed that these discussions should continue.
- Announcement of the formation of a committee to organize the celebration of WELS’ 175th anniversary in 2025.
- Declaration of fellowship with Obadiah Lutheran Synod of Uganda and affirmation of fellowship with Iglesia Cristo WELS Internacional (read “A true family“).
- Missionary presentations from world missionaries Matthew Behmer, Latin America; Luke Wolfgramm, Europe; and Guy Marquardt, Asia; as well as home missionaries Paul Biedenbender, Christ, Denver, Colo.; David Koelpin, Foundation, Folsom, Calif.; and Timothy Spiegelberg, Carbon Valley, Firestone, Colo. Mr. Joseph Purcell, a lay delegate from St. Paul’s, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was inspired by the success stories being shared by WELS home missionaries. “Consistently all of them are considering what their community needs and asking how they can best serve them,” he said. “I think if we can keep following that model, doing 100 mission congregations in 10 years is realistic.”
For full convention coverage, visit welsconvention.net.
Volume: 110, Number 09
Issue: September 2023