(Editor’s Note: ULMA is the United Lutheran Mission Association. They are an independent conservative Lutheran group of congregations. We publish regular reports from them to expose our readers to as large of a group of confessional Lutherans as possible and in an effort to give conservative Lutherans a chance to dialogue, better understand one another and remain united against the questionable tactics of the church growth movement. Other posts from ULMA can be viewed on the regular columns page.)
The ULMA Commission started spring this year at the Hampton Inn in Columbus, Ohio. This was the location for the General Meeting of the United Lutheran Mission Association. Representatives were present from both member congregations, Redeemer – St. Clair Shores, Michigan and Pilgrim – Decatur, Illinois.
This was the first gathering since last year’s forum in Decatur where all three mission pastors were together. Pastor Behling from Sola Scriptura and Pastor Shaw from Agnus Dei attended with their wives, and guests and lay representatives from their congregations were also present. Pastor Mack flew in from California to represent Christ the Rock Lutheran Church. We also welcomed other laity as guests.
The two-day event began on Friday, March 19, with an afternoon closed session of the Commission members, followed by fellowship at the world famous Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus in Columbus’ historic German Village. The general meeting began the following day at 7:30 a.m., and adjourned in the early afternoon.
Aside from the normal business part of the meeting (reviewing the budget, approving minutes, and discussing outreach strategies), the highlight was hearing from the ULMA mission representatives. Below is a summary of their reports:
Sola Scriptura – Muskego, Wisconsin
The members continue to actively work on outreach with friends, family, and other leads. Midweek Lenten services are being held, and ads have been placed in local media. There is one adult in catechism class. Prison outreach is going smoothly, with four inmates being shepherded by Pastor Behling.
Agnus Dei – Fredericksburg, Virginia
The church has been doing well. Two Sunday services were cancelled due to heavy snowfall. Midweek Lenten services are being held. Agnus Dei has learned for their area that the best way to get people into church is personal contact, followed by word of mouth, and advertising in traditional and electronic media. They are currently self-sufficient for their operating costs, with ULMA supplying their pastor. They are contemplating recording their sermons online through ustream.com or other media as part of their outreach. Electronic media has already attracted one visitor thus far. Pastor Shaw keeps on top of technology in order to reach out to people they otherwise would not contact, but finds personal contacts to be the most productive.
Christ the Rock – Carlsbad, California
Attendance has increased steadily in the last five months. Outreach efforts are continuing, with the basic inviting of family, friends, and acquaintances working the best. The worship at the senior center is working out well. In December, eleven members went caroling in the complex. Midweek Lenten services are being held, and midweek Bible Study is being hosted at a member’s home. Pastor Mack is learning Spanish to help in outreach, which includes the regular distribution of Spanish-language tracts in the community.
The advantage of the semi-annual meetings is the ability for the members and missions to reflect, learn, encourage, and rejoice together. The Lord has blessed the ULMA in the last year. We have three active missions proclaiming the Word in truth and purity. We have seen the use of proper preaching, hymnals, and catechisms serve as a draw, not a deterrent. As we enter ULMA’s fifth year, we are looking forward to the doors that God will open.