WELS President Schroeder Reaches Out with Offer of Banjo/Guitar Summit, by Pr. Rossow

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) President, Mark Schroeder, dropped a fun little comment on our site this week. He said:

I suggested to President-elect Harrison that, if I brush up on my guitar, the two presidents could tape a YouTube video entitled, “Dueling Confessional Banjos.” (see comment #5 on this post by Norm)

We are very honored to have President Schroeder visit our site. His work and leadership in the WELS is consistent with what we are doing here at BJS to uphold Biblical, traditional, historic, liturgical Confessional Lutheranism. President Schroeder has been no stranger to the BJS site. (Use the search mechanism on the right hand sidebar and under “WELS, Schroeder” you will find six posts on the WELS here on BJS. Here is the shortcut to the list.)

Issues, Etc. host Todd Wilken has hosted President Schroeder on the show and has done Lutheranism a big favor by providing a means for confessionalism in the LCMS and the WELS to hear each other. Schroeder’s Banjo/guitar gesture suggests that there will be a healthy interaction on the highest administrative levels between the two orthodox Lutheran bodies.

The LCMS is a two-million member denomination head-quartered in St. Louis and is the largest Lutheran denomination in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the largest Lutheran body by name but with their recent votes against the Bible’s teaching on sexuality it is accurate to say that they bring shame to the name of our beloved church father Martin and ought not to be considered Lutheran. The WELS asserts on their website that they are the third largest Lutheran body in America but by our count, dismissing the ELCA as Lutheran, our buddy, President Schroeder can consider the WELS to be the second largest Lutheran body on the continent with nearly 400,000 baptized members.

But of course the Lord does not focus on numbers. He focusses on faithfulness and so the real question to ask is this: “Is your denomination faithful to the Scriptures and the Confessions?” For the most part the WELS and LCMS are faithful and so are other smaller bodies such as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), Lutheran Church – Canada (LC-C), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, the Church of the Lutheran Confessions (CLC), the United Lutheran Mission Association (ULMA), ELDONA, etc.

Surfing the WELS website I was reminded that both the WELS and the LCMS have large parochial school systems. Our Concordias have certainly done their fair share of turning out undesirable “church growth” church workers but overall, our schools have contributed to confessional strength in Lutheranism and ought to be supported.

In true Lutheran fashion I have taken a fun gesture and turned it into a serious discussion of church and theology. In an attempt to return to the fun I’ll close with a challenge to our readers. Let’s help the two presidents out by providing some ground rules for the Lutheran Banj0 Diplomacy Summit (LBDS). I’ll open the bidding with the following:

Rule #1 – No riffs on “Pass it On.” We might allow “The Lamb” but under no circumstances shall there be any “fires lit by any sparks.”

(Comments on other points above are also welcome.)

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


WELS President Schroeder Reaches Out with Offer of Banjo/Guitar Summit, by Pr. Rossow — 41 Comments

  1. In celebration of Pastor Harrison’s elected, I started “bending the strings and plucking off the rust” on my banjo after not playing it for years. As old songs came flooding back into my head, I realized banjos have an unfair advantage over quitars, which led me to rule #3.

    Let the quitar have front an center stage in the beginning, because it’s just so hard to drown out the banjo when it comes to those intros and licks.

  2. @Todd Wilken #6

    Todd Wilken :
    It’s nice to have an new LCMS president who is aware that WELS and ELS exist. TW

    Amen to that sentiment Todd.

    I suggest a neutral field of play for the guitar/banjo contest between Wisconsin and Missouri. How about Iowa, where I live?

    God bless both synods in the coming years.

  3. Perry,
    I don’t know about you…but I have a great amount of hope (and maybe a song) in my heart, this actually occurs. How about Quad Cities area? Much does meet in the middle there, and…it is rather metaphorical like.?

    Many thanks, President Schroeder. Wouldn’t it be lovely.

  4. I’d watch for something in the SF Bay area. My LCMS confessional neighbor to the north, Pr. Charles Froh, met with me to discuss the possibility of a free conference for our church bodies. (His congregation has hosted free conferences in the past, but it has been some time). If this comes to fruition this winter, I’d rather be here than in Iowa. Sorry, Perry!

    I’d like to hear Schroeder and Harrison perform this. Maybe Issues, Etc. could make a live recording and use it for bumper music.


  5. @Todd Wilken #6
    Pr. Wilkin,

    An absolute “AMEN!” to that.

    I had two rounds, in the ’04 -’05 time frame with Dr. Nafzger regarding his fawning after the E?CA…. suggesting to him that it was time to shake the dust from our feet with regard to witnessing to them.

    Perhaps we will have a different focus with Pr. Harrison’s administration! I certainly pray so!


  6. @Dutch #14
    Good lutefisk is a wonderful excuse to eat good Minnesota butter!
    And lefse [aka Norwegian tortillas]

    [You don’t ask what’s in your brats, do you, Dutch?]

  7. Helen,
    Yes, kinda know, I helped make WeiBwurst & a few other wursts, in Lam, with my husband’s cousin. Yes, best not to know, but I still eat them anyway. lol
    I know lutefisk from watching Andrew Zimmerman. But hey, your talkin’ to someone who really likes Haggis.

  8. Andrew Strickland :
    @helen #8
    OOh if in MN a Lutefisk dinner could be held to go with the dueling confessional banjos.


    We would need to invite the Little Norwegian synod folks (ELS) in Mankato if a Lutefisk dinner is involved. Otherwise German brats, blood sausage and sauerkraut would be on the menu.

  9. Perry,
    I’ll tell ya what. Depending on if this actually occurs, & if we can make it, & if Usinger’s can provide a case…Dutch & better half will bring a case of WeiBwurst & suB senf.

  10. I know that God will bless both our SP Schroeder and the LCMS SP Harrison, as both men love the Word of God and our Lutheran confessions. There is much common ground (to be confessional).


  11. Andrew and Perry, I think the banjo smackdown should be held up here in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve never seen two confessional Presidents up here at the same time.

  12. Scott Diekmann :
    Andrew and Perry, I think the banjo smackdown should be held up here in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve never seen two confessional Presidents up here at the same time.

    I need a good reason for a trip to the Pacific NW. Thanks for the idea Scott.

    Our WELS congregation is celebrating 65 years in November and Pastor Schroeder is visiting as one of our guest pastors. We look forward to having the opportunity to speak with him and worship our Lord and Savior. At some future time, it would be wonderful to meet Pastor Harrison as well.

  13. Is it possible for President Harrison & President Schroeder, can they really suggest it?
    How brilliant, were it possible.

  14. Forgive me if I am mistaken but I think you just wrote a column on the presidents of the two largest true Lutheran denominations without mentioning the full name of one of them.

  15. I heard that the LCMS president looked up from his desk one day to see the WELS president walking toward his open office door in St. Louis. He jumped up to meet his friend and was surprised. The WELS president said he was in St. Louis on business and needed to have a quick conversation with the Almighty and wanted to use the LCMS president’s hot line.
    The LCMS president quickly said, “OK” and in a moment the call was complete. The WELS president then asked how much he owed for using the hot line phone. The LCMS president was going to let him the WELS president use the phone for free but the WELS president insisted on paying so the secretary was summoned and she determined the long distance charges.
    A year later the LCMS president was in Milwaukee and felt he needed to make a quick call to God so he went to the office of the WELS president and was granted the same favor.
    When the call was over he too, asked how much he owed.
    The WELS president responded, “Oh, there’s no charge, from here it is a local cal.”

  16. If the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America is resurrected, a lot of healing will need to take place on the part of both W/ELSians and LCMSers

  17. helen :Have you seen one [confessional President], Scott?

    I saw a confessional President-elect not long ago, although it was in Minneapolis, not the Pacific Northwest. I’m reasonably certain I’ll see a confessional President soon in the Northwest, and I relish the day.

  18. Is it possible to play the TLH-262, CW-200, ELH-250, LSB-656 version of “A Mighty Fortress” on the banjo? Is there such a thing as a “bluegrass level of fellowship?”

    And Illinois would be the logical meeting place (neutral territory) for a Confessional jam session–not in place of The Divine Service, please.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.