Dear Members and Friends of the ELS:
Thanksgiving will be different this year. Families probably will not gather as much due to the health constraints. Even when get togethers occur, a friendly face of one who succumbed to the virus may be missing. The festival day of thanks might-in the minds of many-lose its luster as we recount challenges and deprivations in this pandemic year. But stop and think. If we have God himself is not this alone enough for the heart of every one of us to be filled with thankfulness?
Legend says that Constantine the Great once encountered a miser who was consumed with amassing “things.” To have the man see the futility of his mindset, he took a lance and marked a spot on the ground the size of a human body. The Christian emperor then said to him: “Add heap to heap, accumulate riches upon riches, extend the bounds of your possessions and even conquer the whole world; in a few days, such a spot as this will be all you will have.” That grim reminder contrasts sharply with what we believers have in the one true God of grace and mercy. He is everything to us! He did not spare his own Son, but gave him as the ransom price for each of us sinful, undeserving souls! He did this so that we now possess personally the saving merits of Christ and therefore enjoy every blessing imaginable-and way beyond any imagination-culminating in the mansions of heaven! … Yes, so much to be thankful for in 2020!
Blessings in Christ,
John A. Moldstad
Groundbreaking at Divine Mercy in Weatherford, Texas
Sunday, October 25, 2020, served as a significant day in the life of Divine Mercy Lutheran in Weatherford, Texas. The building plans for the new sanctuary to be located along Interstate 20 on the east side of Weatherford are officially underway. Rev. Larry Wentzlaff, our ELS Evangelism–Missions Counselor, preached for the occasion and greeted the membership. The pastor of the congregation is Rev. James Kassera who accepted the call to Texas in 2017. As you can see, even the next generation was very eager to turn a shovel!
Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum
The Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum, which includes twelve representatives from each of our synods, WELS and ELS, met this year at the Country Inn and Suites in Mankato, Minnesota. The ministry challenges and blessings in this Covid year consumed much of the discussion time. Both synods were thankful that, for the most part, offerings from congregations were holding steady, even while noting Sunday in-person worship attendance has not yet fully recovered. Pastor Timothy Hartwig was elected to serve as the new chairman of the forum. The biennial meeting is scheduled to meet its next two-day session in Waukesha, Wisconsin. We treasure the opportunity to share ideas, to consult on addressing concerns, to rejoice in gospel outreach endeavors, and to worship with one another as brothers in our confessional Lutheran fellowship.
In the divisional reports at the forum we were heartened to know that there has been approximately a 15% uptick in enrollment at our combined WELS and ELS schools across the country. In a number of cases parents were attracted to make use of our schools as a result of state restraints on public schools in the pandemic era.
Bethany Seminary Anniversary
The seminary shared classroom space with Bethany Lutheran College when it opened 75 years ago. In the following years, two separate and newly erected buildings (one in 1978, pictured; the other in 1997) have housed the seminary. The location of the seminary today is at 6 Browns Court in Mankato, Minnesota. The seminary faculty, staff, students, and graduates want to express special thanks to you for the thankofferings that enabled the seminary to grow and for your ongoing support.
Highlighted in Mission News
We urge members of our congregations to read the interesting articles found in the September 2020 edition of Mission News/Helping Hands. Among the stories is that of Alejandro, a new convert to Lutheranism, who now works tirelessly at our United by Faith Lutheran congregation in Linares, Chile. Our mission magazine makes the comment regarding two Chilean men (Alejandro and then also Patricio from our Santiago church): “Having studied our confessional Lutheran doctrine, today they enjoy being free from the legalism and oppression of the law they experienced in their previous churches.” Alejandro (pictured), age 26, had previously been a member of the Jehovah Witnesses where he served as an evangelist.
Veterans Day Campaign
One year ago, on our Bethany Lutheran College campus, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for erecting a monument to honor our past and present military service members who dedicate their lives in order to protect the freedoms we enjoy in our country. The monument, designed by BLC artist Jason Jaspersen, will be built on a selected location on the east side of the college campus. Currently the committee working on the project is kicking off a fund-raising effort on November 11. If we have ELS members interested in supporting this endeavor, the committee directs your gifts to this address: ELS Military Monument, 6 Browns Court, Mankato, MN 56001.
Death of Former Pastor
Word was received at the synod office that Pastor Warren Granke passed away in September. Granke served the ELS parishes of Good Shepherd, Bloomer; Ascension, Eau Claire; and Grace, Madison, Wisconsin.
November 5-6 – Board for Home Outreach (online)
November 9-10 – ELS Board of Regents (online)
November 10 – Board of Trustees (online)
December 1 – Informal meeting of ELS/WELS with the LCMS (online)
December 7-8 – Doctrine Committee