1 Peter 3:15a- But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.
There is a lot of fear out in the world. People fear the unknown. People fear the known. People fear sickness, disease, and viruses. People fear doing good deeds for others only to have that good deed rejected. How about you? What do you fear?
The world can be a scary place and if you have ever read Revelation, it is not going to get better. As time moves on, things will get worse, and fear will become the norm. How do believers react? Believers will set apart Christ as Lord. Why is this so significant for believers?
Since Christ is Lord, he has assured you that you cannot lose. You have victory over fear! He won this victory by giving up his life and taking it up again. Think about everything people fear…those things cannot undo what Christ the Lord has accomplished for you! No matter how many disasters you face, Jesus is still Lord. He is in complete control, and he will bring you to his side. The devil, the world, and your sinful flesh cannot undo what Christ, the Lord has finished. Your sin and guilt are gone and Christ, the Lord has gifted you his righteousness. Heaven is open to you!
Every time you set apart Christ as Lord, you are reminding yourself and others that Jesus won complete and total victory over fear. You will become a beacon of hope to those who live in fear. Your Lord will use you to bring the victory to them. This is why you will want to set apart Christ as Lord!
A Servant of Christ,
Rev. Patrick Feldhus
Our Sunday morning bible class at 10 am will continue with the book of Revelation and how it urges us to proclaim the good news to all.
Grace will be having a Lutheran Home Sunday on May 15th. The vice president of ministry, Pastor Joel Gaertner, will be here to share Jesus Cares Ministry and Senior Outreach and Nurture program.
The next Pastor’s study club will be on May 19th in Jordan.
New chapter for Russian church
On Tues., March 1, Missionary Luke Wolfgramm and his wife, Jennifer, left their home in Russia, a country in which they have lived and served for the past 25 years. They discovered they needed to leave four days earlier, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Before they left, Wolfgramm was able to meet with church leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Concord, WELS’ sister church body in Russia, as well as preach at several of the congregations. It was a time to offer encouragement and hope, assurances that Jesus’ church would prevail. It was also a time to provide last-minute instructions to church leaders about the practicalities of managing the church’s business affairs.
“God has been planning this out and preparing us,” says Wolfgramm. “The timing came as a surprise to us but not to him. We were planning to get there, just not so quickly.”
The Wolfgramms were planning to leave Russia in 2024. “We were in Russia for 25 winters. God blessed the church over those times,” says Wolfgramm. “But my work is changing. Even before this [evacuation] happened, I wasn’t exclusively a missionary to Russia. I was also working with other churches in Europe.” This means that he partners in ministry with a dozen sister churches in Europe, helping with training seminary students, leading workshops, mentoring, and preaching. “My work is to fellowship with churches—talk together, work together, pray for each other,” he says. The church in Russia will continue to be one of the churches he partners with, just not as a resident missionary.
For the short term, the Wolfgramms are living in Durres, Albania, helping train a seminary student there. They still keep in touch with the three pastors and one seminary student who are leading the 270-member Russian church body. “The first time I was able to talk to all the pastors, I shared my concern for them,” says Wolfgramm. “Pastor Alexei said, ‘We’re in good hands. We’re in God’s hands, and that’s the best place to be.’ They definitely see that this is God at work to speed up the timetable to give them opportunities to share Jesus’ peace in a world that desperately needs it.”
WELS will continue to support the Russian church as it is able to under current sanctions. “Back in the 1990s when the Iron Curtain fell, we were able to rush in with missionaries and plant a church,” says Rev. Larry Schlomer, World Missions administrator. “The current reality is that another curtain has been set up that divides us from the Russian people. Our prayers go out for the church members there that their connection to their Savior through the means of grace stays strong as God leads us to a new stage of fellowship.”
Conference of Presidents holds spring 2022 meeting
The Conference of Presidents held its spring meeting on April 4-6. Here are some of the issues that were discussed and decisions that were made at the meeting.
There are 162 vacancies in pastoral positions, with 141 of those being vacancies in congregations. The graduating class at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will number only in the mid-20s, which means that the shortage of pastors will continue. Next year’s class numbers in the 40s, which should provide some relief a year from now. Teacher vacancies number in the 300s. After the assignment of teachers at Martin Luther College (MLC) in May, nearly 200 teacher vacancies will remain. The district presidents will be working with congregations to find ways to fill those vacancies before school starts in the fall.
After Mr. Bill Ziche retired from his position as president of Northwestern Publishing House, Mr. Jeremy Angle was hired by the board to serve as his replacement. Mr. Angle will begin his duties as president in early May.
The COP expressed its thanks to God and to WELS members for the generous support that has been given for humanitarian work in Ukraine.
Mark Gabb, chairman of the Board for Home Missions (BHM), and Rev. Keith Free, BHM administrator, provided the COP with an overview of the 100 missions in 10 years initiative.
The COP called Rev. Philip Spaude to serve in a part-time retirement call as a Christian giving counselor. The COP also issued full-time calls to Rev. Lon Kuether, Rev. Craig Wasser, and Rev. Steven Schmeling as Christian giving counselors.
The COP was given a presentation by Dr. Victor Vieth, a nationally recognized expert on child abuse (and WELS member). Vieth gave a strong encouragement to the COP to assist WELS congregations to adopt policies that will serve to help congregations to identify potential victims of child abuse. District presidents will be making resources available to congregations to help them be more informed about the issues and to take steps toward prevention and providing needed spiritual care.
Phil Hirsch, president of the Nebraska District, was elected to as one of the three COP representatives on the Synodical Council, replacing North Atlantic District President Rev. Don Tollefson, who is retiring in June.
As requested by the Synodical Council, the COP directed the Commission on Lutheran Schools to begin developing a new K-12 religion curriculum.
The COP endorsed a proposal by MLC to offer a Competency-Based Education program to encourage people not trained at MLC to consider training for the teaching ministry in WELS.
An Early Childhood Ministry Task Force has been formed to evaluate the needs of teachers and calling bodies and to recommend strategic curricular approaches to meet those needs.
The COP asked Rev. Paul Prange, administrator of the Board for Ministerial Education, to take responsibility for planning and carrying out the Grow in Grace retreats for pastors who have served for 10, 25, and 35 years. This had previously been the responsibility of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
The COP plans to distribute a final draft of its document “God’s Beautiful and Balanced Design for Male and Female” for discussion in late summer or early fall.
The Conference of Presidents will next meet as the Assignment Committee at Martin Luther College and at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in May.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder