WELS National Conference on Worship, Music & the Arts — Gustavus Adulphus College
We previously announced this conference on the Lutheran Calendar. Be sure to submit your events to the calendar.
Our steadfast brothers Johnson & Magness at Liturgy Solutions are having a great time at the WELS national worship conference – along with over 1000 conference attendees. With this many in attendance, perhaps this conference isn’t such a “secret.” Many familiar faces have been seen among the crowd: Jon Vieker, Al Collver, Raymond Hartwig, Larry Vogel, and John Wille.
Yesterday, a group of LCMS representatives arrived at Saint Peter, Minnesota, on the campus of Gustavus Adulphus College for the Wisconsin Synod’s National Conference on Worship. The Wisconsin Synod has been holding worship conferences since 1996, and this is their sixth conference. As of the end of June 2011, nearly 900 people registered for this worship conference. The plenary speaker stated that the WELS Conference on Worship is the largest worship conference in the Western Hemisphere. A significant percentage of WELS church workers (pastors and church musicians) attend the conference. This is remarkable considering the size of WELS (around 400,000 members) in comparison to the ELCA and the LCMS, not to mention other Protestant groups in North America. This shows in part WELS commitment to Lutheran Worship.
A recurring theme at the WELS Conference on Worship is “authentic Lutheran Worship.” Yesterday, I heard a presentation by Jonathan Schroeder about a WELS mission start in Atlanta (Faith, Sharpsburg, GA) in 2001. The pastor was confronted with starting a church in a strange land to Lutherans — the Deep South, where the predominate religious affiliation is Baptist and other Evangelical groups. He explained the recognition that he did not make a good baptist, nor could his fledging congregation compete with the musical groups or styles of the mega churches. His conclusion, the only option is to be authentically Lutheran. He had many good suggestions for being a “missional” church while remaining authentically Lutheran. Approximately 100 people attended Jonathan Schroeder’s session on “Teaching Worship.” This is a session that would have been good for me to hear starting out as a pastor.
By way of observation and not comment … Another interesting theme or motif that recurs among WELS people is the Synodical Conference. While I suspect many LCMS folk give little to no thought to the Synodical Conference that broke up in the late 1950s. Yet for many in WELS the Synodical Conference or rather the breakup of the Synodical Conference is a defining moment. In a sense, the break of the Synodical Conference is the sad story about the dissolution of a family — three sisters who could no longer have a Life Together. In any case, I cannot remember the last time I heard the Synodical Conference mentioned at an official LCMS event.
The Conference Book is literally a book of over 200 pages. The conference is rather impressive and well done. Below are some photos of the Gustavus Adulphus Campus. Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to visit the Wisconsin Synod’s Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota.
Representatives from the LCMS include: Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Herb Mueller, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Rev. Jon Vieker, Rev. Larry Vogel, and Rev. John Willie, District President of South Wisconsin. As few people know us, we are able to go about the conference more or less incognito. Thus far the conference is not only impressive but rather edifying.
For more pictures see Witness, Mercy, Life Together Blog.