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December 2022 President’s Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends of the ELS:

Upon the birth of his son, John the Baptizer, Zechariah was able to speak after nine months of being stricken mute by God. He sang this song known today as The Benedictus (p. 113 ELH). At one point he speaks directly to his newborn and says: “for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins.” Note how salvation is given, not by some lecture or logical argumentation but by the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins.

So, it continues to this day for you. Listen for it this Advent season and all throughout the Church year. Your pastor is trained to do the very same thing preparing the way for Jesus to come to you, not by cleverly devised arguments, but by forgiving you your sins in the name of Jesus in Word and Sacrament. Jesus comes to you directly through the forgiveness of sins declared through the voice of your pastor.

“Comfort, comfort ye My people,

Speak ye peace,” thus saith our God.

“Comfort those who sit in darkness,

Mourning ’neath their sorrows’ load.

Speak ye to Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them;

Tell her that her sins I cover And her warfare now is over.”

ELH #102, v. 1

In Jesus’ name, who came as the Christ Child in the flesh, who now comes in Word and Sacrament, and who will come to rescue our bodies and souls from this corrupt and evil world,

Glenn R. Obenberger


Pastor Bernt Tweit was installed as pastor of King of Grace Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota, on Sunday November 6, 2022. Pastor Tweit will serve the congregation along with Pastor Aaron Ferkenstad. Pastor Ferkenstad served as liturgist for the service, Pastor Paul Fries preached the sermon, and Pastor Luke Ulrich performed the rite of installation.

Photo (back row, l to r): Pastors Luke Ulrich, Craig Ferkenstad, John Petersen, Ben Wiechmann, Erv Ekhoff, Ken Mellon. (front row, l to r): Pastors Josh Mayer, Aaron Ferkenstad, Bernt Tweit, Paul Fries, Glenn Obenberger.

2023 ELS Convention

This annual event will once again be conducted on the Bethany Lutheran College campus in Mankato, Minnesota, on June 18–22, under the theme: “We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” (Ps. 139:14). As we consider God’s gift to us of our bodies it will also be fitting that we will plan to dedicate the ELS Military Monument (as we recognize those veterans who served in the godly vocation of warrior willing to sacrifice their bodies for us) and BLC’s Activity and Wellness Center.

Exceptional Service to Bethany Award

The first recipients of the Exceptional Service to Bethany Award were recognized at a ceremony held during the 2022 Fall Festival and Homecoming Weekend. A group of family and friends of President Emeritus Norman Holte and Ms. Eleanor Wilson gathered in Honsey Hall as the inaugural inductees were acknowledged for their contributions to the Bethany Community. Bethany President, Dr. Gene Pfeifer shared remarks at the event, as well as Dr. Thomas Kuster who spoke on behalf of Eleanor Wilson, and Mr. Ron Younge on behalf of Norman Holte.

Norman Holte graduated from Bethany Lutheran College, then worked for two years in the shipyards in Richmond, California. He returned to college in 1944 where he graduated with a B.S. degree and later a M.A. degree in social studies both from the University of Minnesota. He began his 41-year career at Bethany in 1945 teaching history, economics, political science, psychology, and social science. He also served as Dean of Students, Principal of the High School, Registrar, Academic Dean, and President of the College.

Eleanor Wilson received her B.S. degree in Latin from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her M.S. degree in Latin and Teaching Latin and English from Columbia University, New York City. She taught English and Latin at Bethany Lutheran High School and Junior College from 1952–1961, and was also an advisor to Service Club, Latin Club, and The Scroll newspaper. Wilson resigned from her beloved teaching position at Bethany in order care for her two older sisters. In retirement, she would tutor students in Latin, was active at her ELS church in Madison by teaching Sunday School, and also continued to support Bethany by being an active member of the Madison Area Bethany Auxiliary.

(pictured Mr. Ron Younge and Dr. Thomas Kuster)

Year-end Synod Offering

Our congregational support is vitally important for the missions we support together as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Your gifts are vital to our work. We are prayerfully seeking to fulfill the $820,000 budget goal and we pray this yearend offering will help.

Special Note: Our synod’s Board of Trustees, in addressing the needs of our college, have authorized that all funds over $820,000 received through our congregations will go to Bethany Lutheran College to help with their deficit (these gifts must be given through your congregation, not sent directly to the synod address by individuals). May our Lord give us all generous hearts to support the work we do together as a synod and all we do through our Bethany College.

—Rev. Dan Basel, ELS Giving Counselor


The ELS Circuit Visitors were given three assignments by the Synod in the Strategic Plan “Tell of Jesus and His Love.” The first two have been accomplished ahead of time: providing our pastors a sermon critique form to be used at conferences (and promote their use in our various circuits) and producing a “Definition of Excellence in Preaching and Teaching” (this will be sent out on 12/15 to the pastors and could be shared in some Bible class sessions). The third is that the CVs (and ACVs) conduct at least one visitation at every ELS congregation by 2025. Such visitations have been a critical part of the health of the Church since the time of the Reformation, however individual congregations along with their pastors need to request this from their respective Circuit Visitor. Please consider requesting this fraternally helpful visitation.

Upcoming Events

December 25 – Christmas Day

January 6 – Epiphany

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