The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) has recently updated its website. It is attractive and easy to maneuver but best of all it puts the Lutheran Confessions and traditional liturgical worship front and center. Those are two of the major works to which the Brothers of John the Steadfast are committed and so we like the new WELS website.
Those of you who listened to Pastor Wilken interview Mark Schroeder, the new WELS president a few months ago will not be surprised by the new look of their website because he is clearly a strong leader and is both godly and churchly. President Schroeder also has a twice-monthly newsletter that outlines newsworthy items that he addresses for the members of the WELS. You can check it out and even subscribe by clicking here.
It is good to see President Schroeder forthrightly promote the Lutheran Confessions and liturgical worship in the WELS. They of course have their problems with congregations making use of harmful tactics from the Church Growth Movement and frankly speaking their new hymnal is not as liturgical as the new LCMS hymnal but at least their president is working to do something about the abuse of Church Growth principles in the WELS and is openly speaking in favor of traditional liturgical worship.
A quick review of the “Worship” section of the WELS website makes it clear that they are light years ahead (or behind as the case may be) of our Council of Presidents (COP) in promoting the historic liturgy. We are pleased that our COP began to address the issue of worship with their recently released theses but they fall short of actually supporting liturgical worship as the WELS folks do. As I recall, the COP theses do not even use the word “liturgical” in describing Lutheran worship. They talk about the liturgy but do not commend “liturgical worship.” The operative words for the WELS are “liturgical” and “traditional.” The operative notion for the COP is “freedom.” In an effort to not impose a worship “style” on anyone they err on the side of freedom. As I have argued in the comments section on our post on the “Laramie Project” issue, Christians are not free but are servants, even slaves of righteousness, to quote St. Paul. It is refreshing to see a Lutheran synod that sees itself as a servant of historic liturgical worship rather than as free to rule over it. The COP theses are a good start but until our district presidents get over their dedication to “freedom” the LCMS will be in a world of hurt and will not be a historic and traditional church.
On matters of worship and the promotion of the Lutheran Confessions the WELS is a model that the LCMS leadership can look to for guidance. The new WELS website can be viewed here: www.wels.net.