wels annual report 2015

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wels annual report 2015
WELS ANNUAL REPORT 2015
MESSAGE FROM
THE PRESIDENT
ABOVE: President Mark Schroeder presides over the 2015 synod convention.
ON THE COVER: In 2015, Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., celebrated 150 years of preparing
Christians for lives of service.
wels.net | 414-256-3888
The 2015 synod convention
marked the kick-off of the “One
in Christ” special offering. This
special offering is intended to
eliminate the synod’s capital debt
two years ahead of schedule.
Once the debt is finally retired,
the $1.6 million now set aside
annually for debt retirement can
be used to support the mission
and ministry that we do together
as a synod.
who and what we are. We are
children of God by faith. We are
members of God’s family, his
adopted children. And we are
spiritual brothers and sisters united
by a common faith. “One in Christ”
also describes how we go about
the work that God has given us
to do—united in what we believe,
sharing a common faith, and
working side by side in the mission
he has called us to carry out.
This annual report is intended to
describe the scope and nature
of what God has privileged us
to do together in his name. It’s a
mission and ministry that begins
in each congregation, touches
the communities in which our
congregations are located, fans
out to cities and towns across
North America, and crosses oceans
to mission fields around the world.
It’s my prayer that this report will
help you to become more familiar
with our synod’s work and to be
filled with thanks for the blessings
that God continues to shower on
our synod.
“One in Christ” is not just a theme
for a convention or a slogan for a
special offering. Rather, it describes
Serving in Christ,
Rev. Mark Schroeder
WELS President
2 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
Holy Word promotes its multi-site services in Austin and
Pflugerville, Tex., by canvassing the cities’ neighborhoods.
CALLED TO
PROCLAIM
Holy Word is a multi-site congregation with locations
in Austin and Pflugerville, Tex. Rev. Daron Lindemann,
pastor at Holy Word, explains his congregation’s ministry
by comparing it to a single-site congregation that offers
two services. The congregation is still one church, but
two services reach more people than one service.
As Lindemann notes, “In a multi-site ministry, it’s still one
church offering two services, but now the two services
are each reaching out to two different communities.
More than 20 WELS congregations have already adopted
this approach and started a second site for a new service
or a new ministry program. The second site remains part
of the original congregation. The multi-site approach
allows a congregation’s culture, structure, staff, budget,
reputation, and communication system to expand
naturally to a new site. It also allows the new site a jumpstart, connected to these resources without needing to
develop them from scratch.
“Why all this trouble? To reach more people who need
Jesus with more gospel ministry.”
3 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
WELS HOME MISSIONS
WELS Home Missions is called to proclaim God’s Word to those
in the United States and English-speaking North America. It also
supports campus ministries, multi-cultural ministries, and a variety
of other mission activities in North America.
In 2015, seven new missions were authorized along with two
enhancement ministries. Here are the places that received new
funding in 2015:
NEW MISSIONS
¡ Las Vegas, Nev.
(African immigrant
mission)
¡ Colorado Springs,
Colo.
¡
¡
¡
¡
¡
Blair, Neb.
Fenton, Mich.
Liberty Hill, Tex.
Tyler, Tex.
Peoria, Ariz.
ENHANCEMENT MINISTRIES
¡ Divine Word, Plover, Wis.
¡ Risen Savior, Milwaukee, Wis.
GILBERT, ARIZ.
Two years into full-time ministry in south Gilbert, God has blessed
Peace with a growing membership and a healthy prospect list.
Door to door outreach efforts were enhanced in March as a
Faith in Action team from Martin Luther College helped Peace
advertise its Easter service and also assisted in the completion of
many canvass surveys. Easter service attendance was 119, with
the boost in numbers coming almost entirely from neighborhood
prospects. Follow-up has been intensive, with one Easter visitor
baptized in May (pictured). Also in May, six adults and two teens
were confirmed. The congregation remains strongly committed to
personal spiritual growth and to outreach to the unchurched.
4 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
LAS VEGAS, NEV.
KOREAN FELLOWSHIP LUTHERAN
Pictured are five children who were baptized
during a Korean Fellowship Lutheran service. An
outreach arm of Water of Life, Las Vegas, Korean
Fellowship Lutheran joined WELS in 2014 and
is currently receiving funding from WELS Home
Missions. The congregation has conducted a
series of aggressive outreach ministries to the
Korean community of Las Vegas. Blessed with
an active group of lay leaders, these outreach
ministries are largely education oriented. A
Saturday cultural school uses all available building
space with an enrollment of around 90 students.
The congregation offers summer school, and
school tutoring takes places throughout the
school year. Two English-as-a-second-language
classes are taught each week by members of
Water of Life. Weekly youth and adult services
are also held. The adult service is followed by
a fellowship meal attended by more than 100
each Sunday.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can learn more about WELS Missions through the
Moments with Missionaries video series. Visit wels.net/
missions to watch mission work in the United States and
around the world come alive.
5 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
CAMPUS MINISTRY
Beautiful Savior, College Station, Tex., has an active
campus ministry that is supported by WELS Home Missions.
Each year Beautiful Savior is assigned a vicar from Wisconsin
Lutheran Seminary whose duties include spending time with
the college students who attend Beautiful Savior and who
participate in its campus ministry activities. As the vicar shares
God’s Word, it helps strengthen the faith of the students and
can lead to outreach opportunities as he spends time with the
students’ roommates and friends.
WELS WORLD MISSIONS
¡ has a presence in 23 different countries;
¡ serves 74,834 baptized members in Lutheran churches;
¡ serves 60,000 more souls through correspondence and
workshops;
¡ is training more than 170 men to become pastors in their
own countries;
¡ is assisting national pastors to train hundreds of people to be
Sunday school teachers, liturgists, evangelists, and leaders in
congregations in their home countries;
¡ is exploring outreach possibilities in 5 additional countries;
¡ supports 41 missionaries, 9 teachers, and more than 60 lay
workers in our missions;
¡ is reaching more than 194,000 via Internet outreach; and
¡ maintains a website, wels.net/missions, to tell WELS
members about the amazing work being done.
6 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
SOUTH SUDANESE MINISTRY COORDINATOR
WORKERS FOR THE HARVEST FIELD
An important part of World Mission work is to train
workers from within a culture to carry out gospel
ministry among their people. “They know the people.
They know the language. God makes them ready for the
challenge,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of
WELS World Missions.
In 2015, many new pastors from Europe, Asia, and Africa
joined the more than 174 national pastors serving in fields
around the world.
In March, nine men graduated from Christ the King
Lutheran Seminary in Nigeria. Graduates are now serving
congregations of Christ the King Lutheran Church and All
Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria.
In May, Peter Bur, a South Sudanese man who
immigrated to the United States, graduated from the
Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
He was ordained and installed as the coordinator of
South Sudanese ministry at his home congregation of
Good Shepherd, Omaha, Neb. (pictured with his wife,
Martha). Bur is coordinating the pastoral training of South
Sudanese leaders in North America and also in refugee
camps in Africa.
In September, 12 men graduated from the seminary
program of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Ministries (CELM)
in India. Forty-five national pastors serve 5,500 souls in
120 congregations.
“Every seminary graduation in these places is an answer
to the prayer Jesus asked us to pray, ‘Lord, send out
workers into your harvest field,’ ” says Schlomer.
7 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PROCLAIM
NEPAL
WELS is working in Nepal through the Scripture
Learning Program, theological workshops, humanitarian
aid (pictured above), and publications translated with
the help of Multi-Language Publications. God’s good
news has been spread to tens of thousands of people.
In spring 2015, two earthquakes killed thousands in
Nepal, including 39 members of WELS’ sister church
there. WELS Christian Aid and Relief donated funds so
that the WELS mission contact in Nepal could distribute
physical and spiritual aid to nine rural villages.
Christian Aid and Relief and the church in Nepal are
working together to sponsor a grief workshop for
200 earthquake survivors in early 2016. Attendees
will receive comfort and learn how to comfort others
through God’s promises.
ACADEMIA CRISTO
A new Spanish-language website, Academia Cristo (Christ Academy),
was launched in 2015. The goal of Academia Cristo is to use videos
and audio Bible studies to reach out to non-Christians as well as to
train Latin American church members how to share their faith.
In its first three months, videos on academiacristo.com were
viewed more than 80,000 times and downloaded more than
30,000 times. Because of social media’s popularity in Latin America,
the mission team created a Facebook page to promote Academia
Cristo, and more than 10,000 people per day are interacting with
the Facebook page. On average, 35 people are receiving live online
training from missionaries and national pastors every week.
8 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PREPARE
John Raasch was ordained and installed at Salem, Milwaukee, Wis.
Read more about his journey from student to called worker below.
CALLED TO
PREPARE
WISCONSIN LUTHERAN SEMINARY
So here I am. Outside the door with a box of books to bring into
my office. I get to the door and realize that my key doesn’t work.
So this is what being a pastor is like: my secretary needs to let me
in on my first day. But then I heard it: “Good morning, Pastor.”
Whoa. Is she talking to me? She called me “Pastor.”
And it kept happening. It’s as if my first name has been replaced by
a title. After all these years—I studied, and worked, and memorized, and sacrificed, and now, finally, I’m a pastor.
Then one day I overheard someone talking about me. They
weren’t gossiping, and I don’t even remember what the conversation was about, but they said something I wasn’t ready for: “He’s
my pastor.”
And it dawned on me. This is it. I didn’t want to be a pastor; I
wanted to be their pastor.
Rev. John Raasch,
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary class of 2014
9 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PREPARE
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary may be a small seminary located in
Mequon, Wis., but it is making a global impact.
Through its Pastoral Studies Institute, the seminary offers classes for
non-traditional students—including men from different cultures and
English-speaking second-career students. Since 2003, more than 30 men
have received diplomas and are now serving across the United States and
around the world.
The Pastoral Studies Institute also helps students from all over the world
attend seminary classes in Mequon. Whether for a week, a month, or a
school year, these students grow from spending time in the classroom
with like-minded students. In addition, the traditional students are
inspired by studying next to those who live in places where being a
Christian can bring concerns for their safety.
Becoming a global seminary means not only serving those around the
globe but also preparing traditional students to serve all people. Current
seminary student Peter Janke embodies the school’s global awareness
and spirit. In addition to Greek and Hebrew, Janke is learning Spanish
and Mandarin. “I would like the ability to evangelize almost anyone
in the world,” he says. “If I know English, Spanish, and Chinese well
enough, I know that I can speak to more than half of the world. I could
tell anyone about Jesus.”
Tell anyone—and everyone—about Jesus. That’s what makes Wisconsin
Lutheran Seminary a global seminary. To learn more, visit wls.wels.net.
GREATER AFRICA THEOLOGICAL STUDIES INSTITUTE
FIRST GRATSI GRADUATES
Since 2010, the Greater Africa Theological Studies Institute (GRATSI) has
been jointly administered by the Lusaka Seminary and Wisconsin Lutheran
Seminary. This program is designed for pastors in the Lutheran Church of
Central Africa who qualify to serve in leadership positions. In May 2015,
the first ten participants of GRATSI received their diplomas. Also pictured
is Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Kenneth Cherney (front, right).
10 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
DID YOU KNOW?
The opening enrollment for the 2015–16 school year was 727 students
on campus.
The mission of Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., is to
train a corps of Christian witnesses who are qualified to meet the
ministry needs of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and
who are competent to proclaim the Word of God faithfully and in
accord with the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord.
To meet the current ministry needs of WELS, Martin Luther College
¡ prepares men for pastoral training at Wisconsin Lutheran
Seminary;
¡ prepares men and women for service as teachers and
staff ministers in the synod’s churches, schools, and other
institutions;
¡ prepares men and women for other church ministries, both
full and part time, responding to the needs of WELS;
¡ prepares international students for ministry in partnership with
WELS mission fields; and
¡ provides programs of continuing education that meet the
ministerial needs of WELS.
NEW ACADEMIC PROGRAMS
¡ Special Education is a new major preparing MLC graduates for
Minnesota state teacher licensure. MLC has already enrolled
18 students in the major.
¡ In February 2015, the MLC Governing Board gave the
necessary final approval for the new minor in Urban
Educational Ministry. MLC is now able to enhance its
preparation of more students for service in urban settings.
For more information, visit mlc-wels.edu.
11 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO PREPARE
MARTIN LUTHER COLLEGE
CALLED TO PREPARE
During its World Mission Festival Service on Nov. 8, Martin Luther College
rejoiced in God’s abundant blessings on WELS missions. The service was a
great reminder that students and professors are part of a church that extends
beyond the college and across the world. Students with ties to world missions
participated in the service.
PREPARATORY SCHOOLS
Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., and Luther
Preparatory School (LPS), Watertown, Wis., prepare high school
students to attend Martin Luther College and serve as called workers.
For the 2015–16 school year, Luther Preparatory School has 442
students and Michigan Lutheran Seminary has 221.
Both schools offer “Taste of Ministry” opportunities for students,
which include shadowing called workers to learn more about their
work. Students also are given firsthand gospel ministry experiences on
campus and during mission trips.
For more information, visit mlsem.org or lps.wels.net.
A Luther Preparatory School student
shares God’s love with a little lamb in
Antigua during a summer mission trip.
Students perform at Michigan
Lutheran Seminary’s Christmas
concert.
12 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO SERVE
The distribution of 450 tons of maize in Malawi was the largest disaster-related
food distribution project in the history of WELS Christian Aid and Relief.
CALLED TO
SERVE
In January 2015, Malawi experienced floods that destroyed the homes of
many families of the Lutheran Church of Central Africa–Malawi (LCCA),
WELS’ sister synod. Initial aid included supplies for temporary housing.
The floods also washed away the families’ crops, so Christian Aid and Relief
worked with LCCA church leaders to distribute maize (the staple food of
Malawi) to an estimated 4,700 LCCA families in 21 different areas. National
pastors oversaw the distribution and conducted devotions and prayers with
the families receiving the donations.
Mr. Mark Vance, director of operations for Christian Aid and Relief, wrote:
“As I watch the trucks get loaded with their 40 kilogram bags of maize, I
say to myself, ‘That is a lot of maize.’ But when we get out to the villages
and the families get their 20 kilograms (which is about a medium-sized
bucketful), I say, ‘That seems like so little.’
“As I relayed this thought to one of the Malawian pastors, he said, ‘You
must remember, ten minutes ago this family had no maize, and they don’t
have much money at all to buy maize. Now they have more than they
had, and it was given freely to them. This is a huge blessing to them, and
to know that this gift of love and compassion came from their Lutheran
brothers and sisters from around the world is for many of them more than
their emotions can handle.’ ”
13 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO SERVE
CONGREGATION AND
MINISTRY SUPPORT GROUP
WORSHIP
¡ Preach the Word, a publication
for pastors, began a new series
on preaching to Millennials. In
2015 this publication, along
with Worship the Lord, became
available in blog format at blogs.
wels.net/worship.
¡ Sixty pastors, teachers, and
laypeople are currently volunteering
their time to work on the Hymnal
Project. The work has transitioned
from laying foundations to
deciding actual content—
lectionary, hymns, psalms, liturgies.
For more information, see
welshymnal.com.
¡ Presentations from past worship
conferences are available at
worship.welsrc.net. Some may
be valuable for discussions by
worship committees or boards
of elders.
LUTHERAN SCHOOLS
¡ The Commission on Lutheran
Schools continues to support the
work of 524 WELS schools with
an overall PreK-12 enrollment of
41,138. Leadership initiatives were
the focus of the work of Lutheran
Schools in 2015.
¡ Fifteen men and women are
currently enrolled in Leadership
Candidate Training, a one-year
program designed to pair current
WELS teachers with experienced
WELS directors and principals for
learning and leadership training.
The goal of the program is to further
prepare workers for leadership
positions in WELS schools.
¡ Principal and director apprentice
mentoring and the pilot Principal
Training Program are two
additional avenues designed to
grow and train young leaders.
Three guests from China attended the
WELS National School Leadership
Conference in Pewaukee, Wis., in June.
The visitors are opening a Lutheran
school in our fellowship in Shanghai. They
attended the conference to network with
more than 400 other Lutheran educators
and to find best practices for their school.
ADULT DISCIPLESHIP
¡ Adult Discipleship continues to
coordinate the online Interactive
Faith Bible studies series. In 2015,
classes were held on the prophet
Elisha and the book of Judges.
¡ Marriage enrichment retreats
continue to be offered across
the country. To find locations
and dates, visit wels.net/adultdiscipleship.
¡ As Adult Discipleship works with
congregations, it links the work
of its WELS Women’s Ministry
Committee to the people it
serves. To learn more about this
committee and its resources, visit
wels.net/women.
EVANGELISM
¡ Evangelism’s Daily Devotions
are sent to nearly 10,000 e-mail
subscribers and are available
through WhatAboutJesus.
com, wels.net, and the WELS
Mobile App.
14 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
¡ Online Evangelism courses are
offered by the Commission
on Evangelism through
Martin Luther College’s
online continuing education
program. These courses are
designed and intended for
laypeople and called workers
to help them lead their
congregations with planning
and implementing efforts to
reach more people with the
gospel. For more information,
visit wels.net/evangelism.
YOUTH AND FAMILY MINISTRY
¡ The Commission on Youth
and Family Ministry spent
2015 planning for and testing
SPECIAL MINISTRIES
¡ Veterans from WELS and
our sister church body, the
Evangelical Lutheran Synod,
have formed an organization
called Lutheran Military
Support Group to support the
work of WELS Military Services
and—on the local level—to
help military families.
My Son, My Savior was released in October 2015. This outreach film focuses on the
birth, life, and ministry of Jesus told from the viewpoint of his mother, Mary, as she grows in
her understanding that her son is also her Savior. The main message for all viewers is that
Jesus is their Savior, too. During Advent, congregations and individuals purchased more than
75,000 DVDs and made use of the many complementary materials based on the movie. This
is the third in a series of four outreach movies that are planned as a collaboration between
WELS Commissions on Evangelism and Adult Discipleship, Northwestern Publishing House,
WELS Multi-Language Publications, and Boettcher+Trinklein Television, Inc.
15 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO SERVE
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2015, an average of more
than 23,000 visitors per month
accessed WhatAboutJesus.
com, an outreach website of
the Commission on Evangelism.
a new Schools of Youth and
Family, a project aimed at
helping congregations plan
and implement ministry
opportunities for children,
teens, parents, and families.
¡ Youth and Family Ministry
continues to produce the
popular Kids Connection video
series, which is viewed in
WELS elementary and Sunday
schools. The purpose of the
series is to help kids “stay
connected to Jesus.”
CALLED TO SERVE
¡ WELS Prison Ministry continues
to add new Bible study courses
for inmates to its resources. One
prisoner recently wrote, “Thank
you so very much for allowing
me to participate in this Bible
study course. I cannot express
how much joy it brings me to
study the Word of our Lord and
to feel myself being drawn closer
to his love. Your materials have
been a great help and comfort
to me at a time in my life that I
have so desperately needed it.”
¡ Freedom for the Captives,
a Special Ministries team,
launched a new website,
freedomforcaptives.com, with
resources for survivors of child
sexual abuse and for churches
and their leaders who desire to
minister faithfully when cases of
such abuse become known.
MINISTRY OF CHRISTIAN GIVING
¡ WELS Ministry of Christian Giving
developed a new congregational
planned giving manual to help
churches jump-start a program
of promoting planned giving
opportunities to members.
Christian giving counselors are
available to every church to
provide members free, confidential
assistance with planned gifts and
Christian estate planning.
¡ The Ministry of Christian Giving is
coordinating the “One in Christ”
offering to eliminate the synod’s
$4.7 million debt by June 2016—
two years ahead of schedule. If
successful by God’s grace, the
campaign will put WELS in a
better financial position to train
workers and establish missions at
home and abroad.
TECHNOLOGY
The WELSTech Conference held in June
was attended by 250 people and featured 100
workshop sessions, three keynotes, and an
IGNITE session where conference participants
shared how technology is helping them in
their ministries. One group of attendees from
the Milwaukee, Wis., area is now meeting
quarterly to continue some of the “technology
in ministry” conversations.
DID YOU KNOW?
Forward in Christ magazine launched
a parenting column in 2015. Titled Heart
to heart: Parent conversations, the
column is designed to be an honest forum
for Christian parents to build each other up
and support each other. Visit forwardinchrist.
net to catch up on past articles and watch
webcast interviews with Christian parents.
Topics covered in 2015 included discipline,
bullying, technology use, and contentment.
16 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc., provided a low interest loan to help Our Savior’s, Port Orange,
Fla., increase space for its early childhood ministry, Small Steps Academy. On March 22, 2015, the
congregation broke ground on the addition.
CALLED TO
SUPPORT
WELS FOUNDATION
WELS Foundation exists to help God’s
people support gospel ministry through
WELS. Planned gifts provide funding for
WELS congregations, schools, missions,
and other affiliated ministries. Over
the last three years WELS Foundation
has been privileged to administer
and distribute $15,389,343 in donor
directed gifts to various WELS ministries.
DISTRIBUTION TO SYNOD MINISTRIES
FY2013-FY2015
WELS CONGREGATIONS
$2,239,540
WELS AFFILIATED MINISTRIES
$1,274,622
WELS NATIONAL MINISTRIES
$11,875,181
Visit wels.net/foundation for more
information.
WELS INVESTMENT FUNDS, INC.
The mission of WELS Investment Funds,
Inc., is to strengthen and enhance
the ministry of WELS and WELSaffiliated organizations by providing
professionally managed investment
portfolios. WELS Funds provide eligible
participating organizations with the
opportunity to invest in diversified
investment portfolios without becoming
involved with the detailed accounting
and safekeeping procedures required
for direct involvement in the various
securities in the portfolios.
WELS Investment Funds currently
manages portfolios for 169
congregations and 35 affiliated
organizations.
Visit wels.net/welsfunds for more
information.
17 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
CALLED TO SUPPORT
CALLED TO
SUPPORT
CALLED TO SUPPORT
NORTHWESTERN PUBLISHING HOUSE
Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) exists
to deliver Christ-centered, biblically sound
resources within WELS and beyond. NPH
publishes Forward in Christ and Meditations,
books, music, and worship resources. In
2015, NPH released many new products,
including:
¡ two books and a music CD tied to the
WELS movie My Son, My Savior;
¡ two titles in the Bible Discovery
series—Flowers
in the Desert and
Hard Sayings of
Jesus; and
¡ three devotional/
inspirational
books—Cherished
Gifts, 364 Days of
Thanksgiving, and
Put Baby Jesus in Your Wagon.
NPH also reached WELS members through
175 NPH book fairs in churches and schools.
Visit nph.net or stop by the NPH Christian
Books and Gifts store in Milwaukee, Wis., to
learn more.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Meditations Daily Devotional app for
iPhones and iPads has been downloaded by
34,000 people in more than 150 countries.
WELS CHURCH EXTENSION FUND, INC.
WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc., (WELS
CEF) provides financing through loans and
grants to mission congregations so they
can acquire land and ministry facilities to be
used for gospel outreach in coordination
with WELS Home Missions. WELS CEF also
provides loans to self-supporting WELS
congregations and schools for land and
facility projects. The money to carry out
CEF’s mission comes from investments and
gifts from WELS members, congregations,
and affiliated organizations.
In fiscal year 2014–15, $21.2 million of
new loans and $1.9 million of new grant
requests were approved. WELS CEF’s loan
portfolio ended the year at $133.7 million
with 206 loans to WELS congregations and
affiliates.
For more information, visit wels.net/cef.
WELS BENEFIT PLANS OFFICE
The WELS Benefit Plans Office (BPO) serves
WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod
(ELS) workers and organizations through
administration of the WELS Voluntary
Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA)
Health Plan, the WELS Pension Plan, and
the WELS Shepherd Plan.
The WELS VEBA Health Plan provides
benefits for church and school workers
in accordance with God’s Word while
remaining compliant with the federal
health care reform law. The plan provides
comprehensive, nationwide coverage.
One of the important advantages of
participating in WELS Benefit Plans is
that the coverage and benefits provided
are uniform throughout all 50 states.
This supports the WELS ministry and call
process because worker call decisions are
not influenced by health insurance and
retirement benefit decisions.
Visit welsbpo.net for more information.
DID YOU KNOW?
The total average cost of U.S. health
premiums has increased by 61 percent since
2005. Average WELS VEBA Health Plan
contribution rates have increased by only 49
percent since 2005, preserving valuable assets
throughout WELS to fund ministry efforts.
18 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
FINANCIAL PICTURE
We thank God for his blessings on
WELS ministries, including financial
support to sustain those ministries.
For the 2014–15 fiscal year,
Congregation Mission Offerings
(CMO) of $21.6 million, plus $7.3
million from bequests, foundation
grants, and gifts from individuals
funded $28.9 million of ministry.
CMO is the foundational source
of support for the synod. As such,
CMO growth needs to at least
keep pace with cost of living
increases that occur annually or
ministries can suffer.
The Ministry Financial Plan
(budget) approved by the synod in
convention included CMO increases
of 4 percent in calendar years
2014 and 2015. For 2014, CMO
receipts were 1.3 percent higher
than the prior year and 2015 CMO
subscriptions represented a decrease
of 1.8 percent. Based on the lower
than planned CMO support for
synod ministries, the Synodical
Council reduced synod support by
$825,000 for fiscal year 2014–15
and identified ministry reductions to
keep the plan balanced.
God continues to place many
opportunities before us to
proclaim the saving gospel. May
he bless our efforts to seize those
opportunities with the resources he
has made available to us through
the continued support of our
congregations and members.
The convention approved plan
amounts are reflected in these
charts.
FY 2014–15 SYNOD SUPPORT ALLOCATIONS
$28.9 million
MINISTERIAL EDUCATION
$8.0 million
DEBT RETIREMENT
$1.6 million
MINISTRY SUPPORT
$3.1 million
CONGREGATION &
DISTRICT MINISTRY
$4.8 million
WORLD MISSIONS
$5.7 million
HOME MISSIONS
$5.7 million
CONGREGATION MISSION OFFERINGS
(Calendar Year)
$23
$21
$19
$17
$15
2010
2011
2012
SUBSCRIPTION
2013
2014
ACTUAL
CONGREGATION MISSION OFFERINGS
(Fiscal Year)
$23
$21
$19
$17
$15
FY 11
FY 12
PLAN
19 | WELS ANNUAL REPORT
FY 13
FY 14
ACTUAL
FY 15
WELS IN BRIEF
As a Christian church body, the
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s
calling is to nurture the faith of our
members and to spread the gospel of
Jesus Christ throughout the world.
WELS is the third largest Lutheran church
body in the United States with 1,269
churches, 373,022 baptized members,
and 296,080 communicant members.
WELS has 12 districts to allow for more
area-specific ministry, personal contacts,
and member involvement.
WELS supports work in mission fields
in the United States and in countries
around the world.
WELS maintains four schools for the
education of our pastors, teachers, and
staff ministers—Wisconsin Lutheran
Seminary in Mequon, Wis.; Martin
Luther College in New Ulm, Minn.;
Luther Preparatory School in Watertown,
Wis.; and Michigan Lutheran Seminary
in Saginaw, Mich.
WELS congregations—either individually
or as federations—operate one of the
largest parochial school systems in the
United States. This system includes 316
Lutheran elementary schools, 409 early
childhood ministries, and 23 area Lutheran
high schools.
WELS is a member of the Confessional
Evangelical Lutheran Conference, an
organization of 24 confessional church
bodies throughout the world.
Five separately incorporated entities
work closely with WELS to provide
resources necessary to carry out WELS’
ministry.
The synod’s headquarters is located at
N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr, Waukesha,
WI 53188. For more information, visit
wels.net or call 414-256-3888.
N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive
Waukesha, WI 53188-1108 · wels.net
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