Dear Fellow Workers in Christ’s Kingdom:
We pause on July 4 to give thanks to God for the governing freedoms we enjoy. Sacrifices have been made by many to procure such. Dedicated efforts are made by many who serve as administrators of justice and who strive for peaceful security. In a year of frequently citing Luther, consider his remark on the blessing of good government: “In a word, next to the Gospel (ministry) or the spiritual office no better jewel, no greater treasure, no costlier gift, no finer foundation, no more precious possession, exists on earth than a government that administers and upholds justice” (Plass, #1753). We pray God to provide us with wise rulers that keep our citizens safe, so that the Gospel of Christ may have free course and be preached for the joy and edification of many.
Blessings in Christ,
John A. Moldstad
The 100th annual convention of our synod met in June. Three essays were presented for the anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (els.org/2017convention), Dr. Timothy Schmeling was installed as a professor of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and a Reformation Hymn Festival was held (els.org/lutheran-500). Action was also taken in a variety of areas:
Installation of Dr. Timothy Schmeling
- Nine pastors, one teacher, and two congregations (Reformation Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, Oregon and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Escondido, California) were received into membership.
- The Doctrine Committee was thanked for its work on the finished anniversary Bible study and other resources. Congregations are encouraged to make use of the study this fall.
- Congregations are asked to note the special centennial observances being planned for June 16, 2018, to celebrate the re-organization of the synod, and October 14, 2018, the date observed as “Founders Day” by the old Norwegian Synod.
- The Rev. Craig Ferkenstad was thanked for his dedicated efforts producing the centennial history, Proclaim His Wonders.
- The Board for Youth Outreach will begin work on age-appropriate apologetics material for our youth and has funds available for youth retreats involving two or more ELS congregations or for youth participation in mission work projects.
- The Board for Christian Service may be contacting your congregation during the coming year. They are working on a description of Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA) and Health Savings Account (HSA).
- The synod adopted a proposal for a monument honoring the men and women of our synod who are currently serving or have served in our country’s Armed Forces. The Board for Christian Service will therefore begin to seek funding for this project from interested individuals, families, and other agencies, apart from any synodical funding.
- The Committee on Worship has planned a Reformation Hymn Festival program for use at area circuit Reformation festivals this year. Watch for information at your church about the plans in your area!
- The Evangelism-Missions Counselor is available to assist all congregations in their evangelism and outreach efforts.
- Elsa Ferkenstad was thanked for faithfully compiling the annual reports for the synod for many years.
- A unified budget of $3,186,095 was adopted for 2018. This includes anticipated income from congregational contributions of $770,000. This budget includes a challenge to the synod that all congregational contributions over $740,000 will be allocated to the Board for Education.
- The 2018 Convention will be held from Sunday, June 17 until noon on Thursday, June 21, 2018.
Pastors, teachers, and congregations received into membership
Have you checked the Reformation page of the synod website recently els.org/lutheran-500/? It is packed with resources for planning special worship services and observances for this 500th anniversary year! There is an outline provided for four “Luther Services” that can be held throughout the year, commemorating events in Luther’s life. There are readings chosen from the Confessions for each Sunday of the church year. There are ideas from our Committee on Worship for Bible studies, hymn selection, and choral music. There are links to resources from other synods — WELS events, a daily Luther quote calendar , a countdown clock and “Faces of the Reformation” resources, and more. Both Northwestern Publishing House and Concordia Publishing House have books, videos, clothing, and gifts available. Many of these items are also available through our Bethany Bookstore (800-944-1722). This is a once-in-a-lifetime quincentennial anniversary! What are you planning?
As we observe the one-year mark for our offering to support home missions, we have received nearly $400,000 in cash gifts and pledges, not including deferred gifts. A special thanks to all those individuals and churches who have generously supported the offering. We especially thank our convention attendees who supported the offering with gifts at both the Synod Sunday service and communion service on Wednesday.
For this next year: Look for the update video and inserts on els.org/offering for download. We ask our pastors and congregations to please share this update video with their members. We will have it uploaded on the site as well as have a hard copy sent to all our pastors and churches. Remember you only need to send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive additional offering booklets and/or envelopes.
Do pray for our missionaries and for our Board for Home Outreach as they administer our offerings for the work of home missions.
The centennial history book, Proclaim His Wonders, can be ordered through the Bethany Lutheran College Bookstore for $20 plus $5 shipping (700 Luther Drive, Mankato, MN 56001 or 800-944-1722).
The ELS Historical Society also has produced a pewter-finished ornament/medallion bearing the ELS anniversary logo. It can be ordered from the ELS Historical Society (6 Browns Court, Mankato, MN 56001) for $15 ($10 for members of the society).
At an afternoon service on June 4, 2017, the Rev. Matthew Moldstad was installed as pastor of Peace Lutheran Church (North Mankato, Minnesota). Pastor Timothy Hartwig also serves the congregation. Presently the church is engaged in a erecting an education and fellowship addition.
Bethany Lutheran College and Theological Seminary announce the Bjarne Wollan Teigen Reformation Lectures, which will take place at Bethany Lutheran College, October 26-27, 2017, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Theme: Luther’s Three Treatises: The Reformation Platform
- To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation – Prof. Erling Teigen
- The Babylonian Captivity of the Church – Dr. Erik Herrmann
- The Freedom of a Christian – Rev. James Langebartels
July 2 – Ordination of Kurtis Freimuth at Peace (Kissimmee, FL)
July 16 – Ordination of Aaron Ferkenstad at King of Grace (Golden Valley, MN)
July 27-30 – LYA Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio
August 1 – Board of Trustees
August 3-4 – Board for Home Outreach
August 7-8 – Doctrine Committee
August 9 – Synod Review Committee
August 14-15 – Board of Regents