Dear Members and Friends of the ELS:
We are deeply saddened to announce the sudden death of ELS President John Moldstad on January 29, 2021. However, we are confident that as a believer in the Lord Jesus, his soul was lovingly taken home to heaven by his Savior God. Please pray for his wife, Joslyn, and their family that they may find comfort and peace in the Word of Resurrection and Life, which John so faithfully and joyfully declared as a beloved father, grandfather, pastor and president of our Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Our beloved brother, John, will rise again for Jesus’ sake.
A recording of the funeral service and official letters of condolence can be viewed at https://els.org/in-memory-of-john-a-moldstad/.
As we seek comfort from our gracious Lord, please keep these words from our Lutheran Confessions in your hearts and minds:
God in His counsel, before the time of the world, determined and decreed that He would assist us in all distresses. He determined to grant patience, give consolation, nourish and encourage hope, and produce an outcome for us that would contribute to our salvation. Also, Paul teaches this in a very consoling way. He explains that God in His purpose has ordained before the time of the world by what crosses and sufferings He would conform every one of His elect to the image of His Son. His cross shall and must work together for good for everyone, because they are called according to God’s purpose. Therefore, Paul has concluded that it is certain beyond doubt that neither “tribulation, or distress,” neither “death nor life,” or other such things “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (See Romans 8:28, 29, 35, 38, 39.) [Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Formula, Solid Declaration, Art. XI. God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election. CPH 2006, p. 609, para. 48-49.]
In the saving name of Jesus,
Glenn R. Obenberger
Rev. John Moldstad (April 06, 1954 – January 29, 2021)
Rev. John Arthur Moldstad Jr., 66, of Madison Lake, Minnesota, was called to his Heavenly Home unexpectedly on Friday, January 29, 2021. He died with the sure hope of eternal life through his Savior Jesus Christ, who promised, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies.” (John 11:25)
He was born April 6, 1954, in Bagley, Minnesota, to Rev. John, Sr. and Gudrun (Madson) Moldstad. He was baptized the same day by his father in the hospital and was confirmed at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Mankato.
He studied at Bethany Lutheran High School in Mankato for one year before transferring to Martin Luther Academy in New Ulm where he met his future wife, Joslyn Marie Wiechmann. John went on to study at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mankato. He later completed a Masters of Sacred Theology at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin.
John married his high school sweetheart, Joslyn, on July 30, 1977. Their union was blessed with seven children and fourteen grandchildren. He and Joslyn recently moved to their new home on Lake Washington, where they planned to retire. They enjoyed many wonderful memories with their children and grandchildren at the lake.
John was a third generation pastor, serving first as vicar at Bethany Lutheran Church in Princeton, Minnesota, and then as pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Our Savior Lutheran Church in Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and Faith Lutheran Church in Oregon, Wisconsin. In 1994 he was called to serve as New Testament professor at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary. In 2002 he was called to serve as the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a role in which he served until his death. It was his fervent desire that all come to know their Savior Jesus Christ that through Him they may have forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
John was an active member of Peace Lutheran Church in North Mankato, where a funeral service was held on Saturday, February 6, 2021. The committal was at Norseland Lutheran Cemetery in St. Peter, Minnesota.
Introducing President Glenn Obenberger
The Rev. Glenn Obenberger attended Concordia High School and Concordia College in Milwaukee; Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin; Bethany Lutheran College; Mankato State University; and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, graduating in 1983. He was ordained and installed at Jerico Lutheran Church in Iowa on July 10, 1983. He served the Saude and Jerico parish until 1988, when he accepted the call to Parkland Lutheran in Tacoma, Washington where he continues to serve. He served as vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod from 1994–1998 and 2002–2021. He now has assumed the presidency of the synod.
Please note President Obenberger’s new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The newly-appointed vice president is the Rev. Timothy Hartwig. At our next convention, elections will be held for the one-year unexpired term for vice president. President Obenberger will complete the current presidential term, which ends in 2022.
Our Bethany Lutheran College
Bethany recently announced the addition of the institution’s first-ever master of arts degree program. The new graduate-level course of study is in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC). Bethany received full approval for the program from its accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, on January 29, 2021. The first cohort of twenty-five students is now being recruited and selected for admission. The program’s first classes will begin in the summer of 2021.
Bethany’s program will approach the mental health field from a Christian worldview, and provide guidance on counseling situations that occur in both secular and religious settings. The curriculum will be primarily delivered through an online program with some on-campus components, including three in-person residencies during their course of study. Each residency is a four-day intensive experience focused on developing specific professional skills. Students will also complete clinical experiences at a site of their choosing. The program is designed with traditional graduate students and working adults in mind. Students will be able to choose a plan of study that fits their needs with completion possible in as little as two years. A three-year option is available as well. Graduates will be eligible to become nationally certified and/or state licensed.
Texas Winter Storms
The ELS has four member churches located in the state of Texas. Pastor Brad Kerkow of Hope Lutheran in Leander and Pastor Peter Heyn of Living Water in San Angelo both report power and water outages but no bodily harm to their members. This update was provided on Ash Wednesday by Pastor Kerkow: “This is an area that can go for years without anything resembling a winter weather event. There are few snowplows, insignificant supplies of road salt and sand, and most houses are built for hot weather and have uninsulated pipes. In recent days we have been hit by at least four different and significant events. … We ask for prayers at this time. In all of these trials we take comfort in knowing our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. His love for us is best seen not in earthly blessings but in the fact that He gave his only begotten Son to suffer and die in our place, so that we could have the lasting blessings of heaven.”
Death of Larry Burgdorf
On February 12, 2020, the Rev. Larry Burgdorf died at the age of 91. Rev. Burgdorf served as the long-time director of the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation and attended meetings of the ELS Board of Trustees and Board of Regents for many years. He was also a graduate of Bethany Lutheran College.
Military Monument Committee
Due to the change in presidency, Glenn Obenberger has resigned from the Military Monument Committee. The Rev. Ed Bryant has been appointed to serve in this position.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has addressed questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. A letter from LCMS President Harrison and a fact sheet are available at https://blogs.lcms.org/2021/synod-provides-facts-and-counsel-on-covid-19-vaccines/. Christian Life Resources also has a statement about the development of mRNA vaccines: https://christianliferesources.com/2020/11/20/statement-on-mrna-vaccines/
March 4–5 – Board for Home Outreach
March 15–16 – Doctrine Committee
April 1 – BORAM reports due
April 13–14 – Board for World Outreach
April 20 – Board for Youth Outreach (online)