Dear Members and Friends of our ELS:
The dates of May 30 through June 2, 2014, were important ones for the triennial gathering of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). This worldwide fellowship now comprises 29 church bodies (member churches with voting privileges and associate member churches with participation privileges). Leaders of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and of our Evangelical Lutheran Synod established the CELC in 1993. Those from the United States who attended from our own synod this year included: the Rev. Steven Petersen, the Rev. Gaylin Schmeling, the Rev. Michael Smith and Anita Smith, Pres. John Moldstad and Vice Pres. Glenn Obenberger; guests were: Dan and Kathy Bruss, and the Rev. Thomas and Judy Kuster.
Since the purpose of the conference is to strengthen and encourage member churches in the promotion of confessional Lutheranism, a major portion of each meeting consists of hearing and discussing essays (usually five). This year’s papers addressed the main theme, “We are God’s workmanship – created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
In his opening remarks, CELC President Dan Koelpin said, “The papers presented at this convention will make it evident that good works are something that God desires, but not as a condition for salvation, instead as an expression of our faith and love for God who has already provided salvation through his Son Jesus… These truths strengthen us to see that acceptable good works, works of faith in Christ, are part of God’s plan for us to relate in a wholesome way to him and others, a plan that fits very well with our work of bringing the gospel to all nations.”
A side benefit of the sessions was the opportunity for a number of the smaller churches to consult with sponsoring and/or supporting churches on issues confronting those in the various mission fields and reporting firsthand on successes as God’s Word is proclaimed.
This year especially provided our ELS leaders with the chance to visit personally with the brothers and sisters in Christ from the host church, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Peru. Our Peru mission was established in 1968. It now has about 2,000 souls in three major areas: Lima (where the seminary is located), the Andes mountain congregations, and those along the Amazon River. A good contingent also was on hand from our mission church in Chile, led by the Rev. Timothy Erickson and his wife, Ellen.
On Sunday, June 1, 2014, your president had the privilege of preaching to an audience of 270 (seventy of whom were CELC delegates and guests, and about 200 Peruvian members), with the liturgy conducted by the Rev. Segundo Gutierez, the president of the Martin Luther Seminary. The Rev. David Haueser provided the translation of the sermon.
Let us pray fervently for the wonderful fellowship we have with many Christians around the world who confess the same Savior and doctrine that we do and who are seeking to promote the holy Gospel of Christ in their own communities. It is very moving to hear about their steadfast dedication to this mission, in spite of many persecuting challenges to the faith in countries where freedom of religion is an anomaly. May God give all of us the boldness that was characteristic of the early Christians (Acts 4:29).
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President