Western Wisconsin District Convention
June 4-6, 2006 • Luther Prep School, Watertown, WI
Sunday, June 4
6:05p President Herb Prahl introduced Pastor Wayne Schulz who gave the opening devotion based on Luke 15:1-10 under the theme “Jesus Treasures Every Soul – And So Do We!”
6:30p President Prahl called the convention to order in the name of the Triune God.
6:31p Pastor Steve Staude, the district Second Vice President gave some basic instructions, especially geared toward those who had never attended a district convention. All delegates have the privilege of voting. All delegates are encouraged to share convention information with their congregations. All delegates are encouraged to make use of the floor microphones for sharing their opinions, thoughts and concerns.
6:36p Pastor Prahl announced the members of the various floor committees.
6:40p Pastor Prahl introduced the convention keynote speaker, Prof. John Boeder of MLC. His presentation is entitled “Every Member a Missionary – With His Lips and With His Gifts.” Professor Boeder was thanked for his presentation.
7:45p Synod President Karl Gurgel explained the president’s synod restructuring proposal (see the Proceedings CD for details). This proposal comes far down on the list of priorities of things we do together as a synod. President Gurgel asked for input on four recommendations: (1) Creation of a National Council, (2) Boards and committees become advisory, (3) The National Council calls all members of the Ministry Operations Team (MOT), (4) The National Council selects a chairman from among its members. The proposal may be altered and will be voted on at the 2007 Synod convention.
7:56p Pastor Paul Soukup spoke on behalf of Planned Giving. He explained that an endowment is a fund where the a principle is invested and the income is used for ministry. Mr. Gerry Heckman spoke briefly on the synod endowment program. A brief DVD was shown explaining the program and its impact on the work of WELS.
8:17p Pastor John Braun spoke briefly on behalf of Northwestern Publishing House. Currently NPH is working on a new version of Christ-Light as well as a new supplement to Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal. A free CD is being produced on which there will be an explanation of every product NPH produces. It will soon be made available.
8:27p Ken Ewardt, chairman of the district elections committee, passed out nomination ballots for the position of District President.
8:30p The convention was dismissed to go to rooms by circuit for break-out meetings. Circuit pastors are to be elected at these meetings. Floor committees will be meeting afterwards.
Monday, June 5
8:00a The morning began with Word and Sacrament in the LPS chapel as hundreds joined to receive God’s blessings and praise his holy name. The Commission on Worship’s new trial setting for the Common Service was utilized. Retiring Pastor Oliver Lindholm delivered the message based on 2 Corinthians 6:1,2. An offering of $1,619.71 was gathered.
9:30a President Prahl gave the District President’s Report. He encouraged all the make use of the brotherly advice and encouragement of fellow workers and brothers and sisters in the faith. He encouraged the continued use of the Real Treasure Bible study materials. He also encouraged “Walking Together Sunday” and thanked those who participated. Six seminary graduates, seven vicars, and fourteen MLC graduates are new workers in our district. Praise God! President Prahl encouraged the delegates to take a look at the restructuring proposal, discuss it and be prepared to discuss it on the convention floor. The District Help Team has been busy assisting displaced called workers. Many thanks to those faithful servants! Heartfelt thanks also to those who serve in any way in the district, especially to circuit pastors for their difficult and important work. Pastor Prahl encouraged congregations to establish a Care Committee for Called Workers using the new CD/DVD provided by WELS Special Ministries. His report closed with the singing of For All the Saints in remembrance of those workers among us who have been called from this life into the glory of heaven.
9:55a Ken Ewerdt reported on behalf of the elections committee. Nominated for District President: Mike Jensen, Mark Lindner, Herb Prahl, and Steve Staude.
10:01a Mr. Dave Steinert reported on behalf of the Synodical Council. He summarized the information from The Report to the Twelve Districts. Delegates were encouraged go to www.wels.net for more information. Mr. Todd Poppe and Pastor Wayne Mueller joined him to answer any questions from the floor.
10:25A Pastor Ken Ewerdt on behalf of the election committee announced that Pastor Herb Prahl was re-elected to serve as our district president. Pastor Prahl asked for continued prayers. Ballots were handed out for nominations for district First Vice President.
10:54a Keith Free reported on behalf of the District Mission Board (please see the DMB report on the Proceedings CD for more details). The task of the mission board is to assist all district congregations in reaching out with the gospel. The Lord is granting many blessings to our district and synod as the Every Soul’s a Treasure focus is put into practice. Keith encouraged use of the Church Extension Fund which has been a tremendous blessing to our fellowship. Pastor Tim Flunker is available as a consultant to help district congregations with outreach ministry, especially outreach to Hispanics. Campus ministry needs names of all WELS students going off to college. Pastor Free encouraged all congregations to send in those names. All congregations in the district are invited to attend the missionary’s conference on August 28-29 at the Wintergreen Resort in the Dells (see handout in binder).
11:07a Pastor Walter Westphal reported on behalf of the World Mission Board. The WELS has missions serving five continents. In spite of decreases of missionaries abroad, the number of national workers is increasing. Indonesia: The country continues to suffer from earthquakes. The Committee on Relief has sent over $60,000 in aid. Much work is being done to help the church there become self-supporting. The church is doing a lot of its own seminary training and mission work. The Board for World Missions is now funding a Professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. The goal is to help the seminary send professors to world fields to help with teaching. A new law-gospel brochure called The Promise has been produced and is available in forty languages.
11:25a Ballots were handed out for district First Vice-President. Three names appear on the ballot: Mike Jensen, Mark Lindner, and Steven Staude.
11:30a Pastor Don Sutton reported on behalf of the Board for Ministerial Education (see pages 7 and 8 of The Report to the Twelve Districts for more details). Things have been challenging for the BME over the past few years. Enrollments numbers are stabilizing at our synod schools. Good reports are coming back about our pastor, teacher and staff minister graduates. Many have stated that they are very impressed with the competence of these young men and women. In the next biennium worker training will receive about 26% of the synod budget. There will be a conference at WLS this summer taking a comprehensive look at the seminary curriculum. The goal of the BME is to maintain the current education system of one seminary, one college and two prep schools. Two critical funding issues need attention: (1) student assistance/financial aid, and (2) program maintenance.
11:50a John Boeder reported on behalf of Martin Luther College. The Mission Advancement office was started this year and through it the Lord brought $3.5 million from God’s people to help with operating expenses. 96 teacher candidates were assigned in May 2006. Twenty students deferred for international service in the Dominican Republic, China and Japan. MLC graduates have an average student loan debt of $15,300. Thanks to everyone for their support of MLC.
12:15p Adjourned for lunch
1:30p The afternoon devotion was led by Pastor Ed Lindemann. His message was based on John 1:43-51 under the theme “Jesus Gathers His Treasures One by One.”
1:50p Nomination ballots were handed out for district Second Vice-President.
2:00p Mr. Rod Seefeldt reported on behalf of the Ministry of Christian Giving. The acronym CCFS will no longer be used. The new name will be formalized at the next synod convention. Encouragement was given for people to remember their congregation, school and synod in their estate plan. The district CCFS has been promoting leadership training. It is also crucial to get a higher percentage of our people involved in Bible study and ministry.
2:10p Pastor Marty Baur introduced the various members of the district board for Parish Services. Pastor Dan Solofra (Evangelism) encouraged the delegates to make use of evangelism materials available on the synod website. He also put in a plug for the School of Outreach. Jim Moeller (Parish Schools) announced that there will be a presentation in the evening about alternate funding for our schools (see report on the Proceedings CD for more details). Pastor Paul Waldschmidt (Adult Discipleship) reported on AD’s activities. Marriage seminars have been held around the country in about fifty different locations. The spiritual growth Bible studies have been revised and are still available. Pastor Rich Lehman (Worship) highlighted a few items from the worship report in the binder. Schools of Worship continue to be offered and positively received. Rich is putting together a list of district music leaders (from the congregations) and is hoping to find someway to positively interact with them. Pastor Jeff Schallert (Special Ministries) encouraged the delegates to pick up the Special Ministries DVD. A new Special Needs Family Network has been formed to connect parents with special needs children for mutual support and encouragement. Prison ministry continues to thrive with many Bible studies being conducted and Bibles being given away. Pastor Steve Schmeling (Youth Discipleship) thanked Jerry Kastens (who recently was called home to heaven) for his work on behalf of Sunday schools and youth discipleship. Pastor Marty Baur wrapped up the presentation by encouraging the sharing of resources for ministry. Make your homemade resources available to others.
2:45p Pastor Glen Schmiege reported on behalf of the District Help Team. The team works with pastors and teachers who have resigned or whose positions have been eliminated. They help for a short time with phone calls and face-to-face visits to help get these people back on track.
2:52p Pastor Ken Ewerdt reported on the nominations for Second VP: On the ballot are: Walter Davidson, Mike Jensen and Steve Staude.
2:56p Pastor Tom Fricke reported on behalf of the Floor Committee on Synodical Matters. Two issues were looked at by the committee: endowments and synodical restructuring. Someone asked how endowment funds might affect CMO. Pastor Wayne Mueller answered that history has shown giving to special funds historically has helped the CMO. “Giving begets giving.” Opinions were also solicited regarding the synod restructuring proposal. Some concern was expressed that the structure supports kind of “top down” type of leadership without enough checks and balances. Another question: how can we approve something that is so lacking in details? Also, what happens to grass roots input regarding the ministry of the synod? Some concern was expressed about putting a structure from the business world to work in the church.
3:34p Ken Ewerdt reported that Pastor Steve Staude was re-elected to the position of Second Vice-President of the District.
4:05p Pastor Rich Warnecke reported on behalf of WELS Kingdom Workers. Currently 1,500 lay people are involved in some kind of service through Kingdom Workers. A portion of their new DVD WELS Kingdom Workers: Touching Lives with the Word was shown. This DVD is being given free of charge to all WELS congregations.
4:15p Mr. Klein gave a report on behalf of The Luther Home. A lot of work is being done to bring the gospel to those with developmental disabilities. Every soul is a treasure.
4:20p Ballots were handed out by the elections committee for the position of district secretary.
4:30p Pastor Andrew Schultz reported on behalf of the Floor Committee on the President’s report presented six resolutions (see sheet in file). In summary: (1) Approve application transfers of district workers, (2) Approve list of delegates for 2007 synod convention (note Tim Mueller in place of Karl Walther who went to convention in 2005), (3) Thank those who have served the district in some way over the last two years, (4) Encourage all congregations to go make use of “Walking Together Sunday” and “Every Soul a Treasure” Bible study materials, (5) Designate offering of $1,619.71 to the WWD Scholarship Fund, (6) Transfer St. James in Prairie du Sac from the Capital Circuit of the Central Conference to the Southern Circuit of the Southwestern Conference. All resolutions were adopted.
4:41p Pastor Dave Fischer reported on behalf of the Floor Committee on North American Outreach. They brought two memorials (see Proceedings CD). In Summary: (1) Encourage “Real Treasure” Bible study to be used as key in resolving the stewardship problems in our congregations. (2) Thank the Lord for the various ethnic group that we have opportunity to reach out to and put a concerted effort forth to reach out to them with the gospel. All resolutions were adopted.
4:51p Pastor Ken Ewardt reported that Pastor Daniel Sims was re-elected to the position of District Secretary.
4:52p Pastor Don Buch reported on behalf of the District Nominating Committee. A ballot was handed out for the various district positions.
5:12p Pastor Prahl closed the day’s session with prayer.
Tuesday, June 6
8:00a Pastor Ken Gast gave the opening devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:19-23 under the theme “Bending Over Backward to Reach Jesus’ Treasure.”
8:22a Mr. Jon Flannigan spoke on behalf of the WELS Benefits Plans Office. Health benefits through WELS VEBA are a very important part of compensation packages for called workers. In spite of rising costs, WELS VEBA continues to provide an excellent product. In spite of this, in order to cut costs some congregations are choosing to go with other health plans. Contrary to a rumor that has been going around, WELS VEBA does not plan to shut down in two years. For more information go to www.welsbpo.net.
8:40a Jarred Justman reported on behalf of the WELS Church Extension Fund. The primary purpose of CEF is to give loans to mission congregations in cooperation with the district mission boards. CEF is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The support given by WELS congregations is greatly appreciated.
8:47a Pastor J.D. Liggett, the Director of Christian Giving gave his report (PowerPoint) entitled “Proclaiming Peace Through Jesus with Our Finances” (see the Proceedings CD for a copy of the presentation). God has blessed WELS people with a tremendous amount of wealth. May we give generously and use that wealth to his glory! Pastor Liggett also reported on behalf of the WELS Foundation (copy on the Proceedings CD). The purpose of this organization is to provide investment management for the synod and synod organizations.
9:20a Pastor Tom Fricke reported on behalf of the Floor Committee for Synodical Matters. The committee brought to memorials (see Proceedings CD for details). In summary: (1) Emphasize CMO and encourage use of the two endowment funds, (2) Ask synod to postpone adoption of the proposal until 2009 so that the districts can discuss it in 2008 and bring recommendations. The second was amended. Both were adopted.
10:28a Pastor Tom Fricke reported on a proposed amendment to the synod constitution regarding the object and purpose of the synod (see page 39 of The Report to the Twelve Districts). The memorial is about our ministry priorities as a synod. There was some discussion from the floor.
10:42a Ken Ewerdt reported on behalf of the elections committee. He reported the results of the various elections for district positions (see Proceedings CD for details).
10:48a Rapid Reports: Pastor Mark Lindner reported for the Board of Support. This board works to help out called workers and their families (e.g. pastors’ widows) who need financial help. Pastor Galen Riediger reported on behalf of the District Scholarship Committee. He thanked the convention for the gift of the convention offering. Application forms are available in the binders. President Mark Schroeder reported on behalf of Luther Prep School. He recently took twelve students to New Orleans to assist with hurricane clean-up. The school has had financial and enrollment challenges in the last year, but the Lord continues to shower LPS with his blessings. Pastor James Mattek reported on behalf of WLCFS. The counseling division of WLCFS is going through a restructuring. They are looking for Biblically sound counselors. Ministry Support Services also is doing a lot of work assisting called workers and their families.
11:05a Pastor Wayne Schneider gave the closing devotion based on 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 under the theme “Jesus Set His Seal of Ownership on Us, His Treasure.” The district officers were also installed.
Attendance: 393 attended with 72 not attending (as reported by Mrs. Zastrow)
Pastor Daniel Sims