Every year clergy and laity from Wyoming (and some from other districts as well) converge on Casper, Wyoming to hear speakers on topics of Evangelism. Yes, confessionals from a confessional district learning about Evangelism. This year I had the opportunity to attend the convocation, listen to the speakers, and even moderate some of the panel discussion.
This year’s speakers were:
Rev. Clint Poppe of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Lincoln, NE, chairman of the ACELC
Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood, President Emeritus of the Wyoming, Associate Pastor of Mount Hope Lutheran in Casper, WY, Board of Directors member for CTS, Fort Wayne.
Rev. Jeremy Mills of Epiphany Evangelical Lutheran Church of Westfield, IN
The speakers provided a good smattering of situations, from ages to styles of congregations that they serve, they really helped bring many good topics to the table. Rev. Poppe provided some excellent theology for mission and in particular stressed that the Church is about the forgiveness of sins. He also set up a good framework of using the Augsburg Confession articles I – VI for evangelism (that AC VI is where it fits, as a good work, but always must follow the teachings of the previous five). Dr. Garwood provided some excellent practical tips for congregational efforts at evangelism, including suggestions at member assimilation and so forth. Rev. Mills brought good thoughts to the table on taking good/discarding the bad in regards to modern “evangelism” efforts. He has been exposed to many of the modern church planting techniques as his congregation is a church plant faithfully growing thanks to God’s blessing. He was able to show some common problems with modern evangelism and church planting schemes.
During the banquet on Friday evening the group assembled gave thanks to God for the work of Rev. Phil Grovenstein, Rev. David Londenberg and also Delano and Linda Meyer in the country of Sierra Leone. Many pastors from the Wyoming District go over to Sierra Leone and teach there as a part of Project Education: Sierra Leone. See the project’s website here; facebook page here. That project also brings in pastors from Liberia as well and there are hopes to expand the project to that country as well. The banquet was a fine way to show respect to those who came before and served tirelessly in a field that many would run from faster than Nineveh.
The worship was solidly liturgical and Lutheran, and many people gathered for Compline on Friday night with Rev. Marcus Zill accompanied by Dr. Steven Hoffman, the Kantor of King of Glory Lutheran in Cheyenne, WY. Morning Prayer was also great, led by Rev. Paul Rosburg with preaching by Dr. Garwood.
For all of those who complain that confessionals are not interested in evangelism, this longstanding convocation debunks that myth. Confessionals want people to meet the right Jesus and realize that our Lutheran beliefs will direct our Lutheran outreach. It is all there, in our beliefs – no need to drink from other wells.
It was very nice to be at an evangelism conference where the only person snapping and telling of people going to hell was the guy demonstrating that as false teaching (thank you Rev. Poppe)! It was also nice to attend one where the church and what happens in her walls was considered sacred time and space, rather than something to change in order to bring in the profanity of the world. It was nice to see the Gospel being proclaimed to people in order to motivate them to good works rather than the deadly beating stick of the Law that so many evangelism teachers use.