The WELS Convention Wrapup, by Rick Techlin

At the beginning of the convention we posted an article by BJS reader Rick Techlin about the convention; here is a quick summary of the convention from his blog. It includes links to dailly wrap up videos. Additional information can be found on the WELS News Page or Rick’s blog site.

wels_logoThe WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) biennial convention convened on Monday, July 27 in Saginaw, Michigan, and ran through Friday, July 31, 2009 A.D. At the end of each day, WELS Communications produced a “video wrap” that is supposed to summarize the day’s events and provide some flavor of the happenings.

Monday’s video wrap reported on the opening of the convention and the President’s report. According to Joel Hochmuth,

President Schroeder stressed the importance of maintaining our Confessional identity. He spoke of practicing the “theology of the cross” rather than the “theology of glory,” and measuring success, not in numbers, but in our faithfulness.

[Said President Schroeder], “The ‘theology of glory’ focuses on outward accomplishment, growth in numbers, and external things that tend to make people proud and feel good. The ‘theology of the cross’ focuses on purely what God has done for us.”

Tuesday’s video wrap featured the election of Pastor James Huebner as First Vice President. Regarding President Schroeder, the newly elected Rev. Huebner said with a smile,

[we] have a very good working relationship, [but] I don’t want to be the person who just sort of seconds every motion that he has or every idea … I’m not afraid to disagree with him, as he well knows.

James Huebner is a pastor at Grace Lutheran Church (founded 1849) in Milwaukee, WI. Grace is one of the most liturgical congregations in the WELS, and has a reputation for excellence in Lutheran worship. {This is somewhat ironic because Grace’s original articles of incorporation stated, that “never may or shall a preacher of the said congregation use the rite of the Old Lutheran Church, whether in Baptism or the Lord’s Supper.” (WELS, page 43)}. Pastor Huebner also delivered the keynote address to the 1999 WELS National Conference on Worship, Music, & the Arts, entitled “Excellence in Worship.”

– On Wednesday, the delegates debated the budget, and asked, “Should we close Michigan Lutheran Seminary, recall missionaries, or is there a better third option?”

– On Thursday, the delegates

adopted a resolution of the Finance and Budget Floor Committee for the 2009-11 biennium, which provides enough funding for Ministerial Education to retain WELS’ present three-tier, four-school system as contained in the Synodical Council’s proposed budget Option A.

The resolution also keeps funding for the Boards for Home and World Missions at the same level as the proposed budget Option B so that no further missionary cuts are needed.

Instead, the budgets of Communications, Financial Services, Technology, the Congregational Resource Team within Parish Services, Mission Counselors, and corporate travel expenses will be cut by a total of $1 million.

(Together newsletter, July 30, 2009). Click here for additional budget cut details.

Also at some point, “in an effort to foster and preserve unity in doctrine and practice,” the convention approved a resolution for “a synod-wide review of key doctrines and practical issues.” (Ad Hoc Recommendation 5.1). The four recommended areas of synod-wide study are: the efficacy of the means of grace; vocation, church and ministry; care of souls; and the sacramental life.

– The convention concluded at noon Friday with prayer and the closing gavel.

The daily wrap videos as well as other selected presentations from the convention can be found on the WELS Streams Vimeo page. President Schroeder will give his full assessment of the convention in the August 5 edition of the Together newsletter. To the delegates and everyone else who worked on the convention, Thank you. May God be with you.

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