Planning is good-if done wisely. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). The new year provides opportunities and challenges. There are things we want to accomplish or avoid. No doubt we intend to include them more pointedly in our prayers. In whatever we say or think or do, as believers in Christ, we seek to remind one another that we are living for a better city. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). May our prayer be: “O Lord Jesus, in my limited time here as in faith I prepare for the glorious city above granted by Your grace, guide me to serve You and my neighbor. May all my efforts be for Your glory and honor and for the truly lasting benefit of others.”
Blessings in the holy Christ-child,
John A. Moldstad
On Wednesday, December 20, 2017, the children from King of Grace Lutheran School in Golden Valley, Minnesota, held their annual Christmas service. Pictured above is Pastor Aaron Ferkenstad leading the assembly in a reading. The Lutheran school has been in operation since 1979 and has an enrollment of about 200 in preschool through eighth grade.
On November 28-30, 2017, representatives from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) met in Jacksonville, Florida, for the sixth annual meeting for informal discussions. The main topics covered were the Doctrine of the Call and a comparative review of the recently published catechisms by WELS and the LCMS. The last version of the catechism for the ELS (2001) also was used in discussing the new editions of the explanations to the Small Catechism. In this 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation we especially treasure the work of Dr. Martin Luther in composing his Small and Large Catechisms of 1529.
The three synod presidents provided updates on the respective work of their church bodies. Challenges and blessings also were noted in respect to pastoral training, the filling of congregational vacancies, and the relationships with international churches. The LCMS is part of the International Lutheran Conference (ILC), while the ELS and WELS are members of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).
None of the participants at these informal meetings anticipate a restoration of church fellowship between ELS/WELS and the LCMS in the near future. Yet, the sessions themselves were once again helpful as areas of agreement, as well as specific differences, were addressed in a cordial but candid manner. The representatives of the three synods have decided to gather once again in the fall of 2018.
Also in November, representatives of WELS and the ELS met for formal meetings with counterparts from the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC). The CLC was formed in the 1950s when a number of congregations left the Wisconsin Synod because they believed that the synod was not acting quickly enough to break fellowship with the Missouri Synod. The meeting was a continuation of formal doctrinal discussions intended to determine if fellowship between the synods can be restored.
In 2015 the group had composed a document entitled “A Joint Statement on the Termination of Fellowship.” Agreement on this joint statement is seen as a necessary first step in the doctrinal discussions. The ELS convention approved the statement in 2016; the WELS convention approved it last summer. The CLC convention discussed it and recommended further study by its pastoral conferences. The CLC will consider the statement again at its next convention.
Even if the Joint Statement is adopted by all three synods, other issues remain to be more fully discussed and resolved before fellowship can be reestablished. We pray for God’s blessings on these efforts to establish fellowship based on a full agreement in doctrine.
Pastor Matthew Behmer of Christ the King Lutheran in Bell Gardens, California, holds services each Sunday both in Spanish and English. If you know of anyone in the Los Angeles area who would like to benefit from the worship services, please pass along the link to the congregation’s webpage: https://cristoreylutheran.com/en/homepage/
For 2018, the synod has adopted a unified budget in order to provide a clearer representation of the budget activity of the synod. Congregational contributions continue to be the largest single source of receipts for the work of the synod. Without the prayerful support of congregations and individuals, the synod’s work would lag and the gospel kingdom suffer. The unified 2018 budget for the ELS is $3,186,095. This budget anticipates congregation contributions of $770,000. In future months, you will read more about each item included in this budget.
This is the centennial year of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and special events will occur during this year’s synod convention. The convention begins on Sunday, June 17 and is to continue through Thursday, June 21. When booking airline tickets, plan to come one day early to join the ELS Historical Society at Lime Creek Lutheran Church on Saturday. Also remember that the convention is to continue through noon on Thursday, June 21.
Pursuant to the guidelines of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod for calling a professor to the seminary (cf. Guidelines for Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary II.A.2), the Board of Regents of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato, Minnesota, herewith issues to the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod a call for nominations to a professorship.
The nominees must be ordained clergymen of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod or of its fellowship.
Nominees are to be qualified primarily to teach New Testament, which requires the necessary expertise or aptitude in the Greek language and a willingness to pursue further study in the area of exegesis. The nominees also need to be able and willing to teach other courses in the curriculum as needed.
The individual called will serve as the Dean of Students and lead the seminary’s field education program. He will begin teaching fall 2018.
Nominations are to reach the undersigned by March 1, 2018.
Rev. Edward Bryant
Secretary, ELS Board of Regents
527 N Main St
Lombard IL 60148
Circuit 5 Visitor, the Rev. Jonathan Madson, has accepted the call to serve in Sebring, Florida. Therefore, that circuit visitor position has become vacant. On December 5, Pres. Moldstad appointed the Rev. Ken Mellon to serve as circuit visitor until next June’s convention, and the Rev. Mark Bartels has been appointed as Alternate Visitor of that circuit.
Dr. Michael Smith has resigned his position on the Board for Home Outreach following his decision to accept a call to serve at Asia Lutheran Seminary. The Rev. Tim Hartwig has been appointed to the Board for Home Outreach, and this appointment will stand until the time of convention.
January 16 – Planning & Coordinating Committee
January 21 – President preaching and presenting at Hartland and Manchester, Minnesota
January 25-26 – Board for Home Outreach
February 6 – Board of Trustees
February 7 – Synod Review Committee
February 12-13 – ELS Board of Regents