Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Synodical Council meeting highlights

The President's Newsletter -

The Synodical Council (SC) met on Nov. 2-3, its first meeting since the synod convention last summer.

Year of Jubilee offering

The Synodical Council decided that all offerings received for the synod’s debt in the Year of Jubilee offering will be used toward the principal of the debt, which will reduce the length of time for repayment. This is similar to what happens when you make additional principal payments on your home: your payments don’t decrease, but the length of time before your home is paid off is shortened. We’re pleased that offerings have already begun to arrive for this effort, even though it does not officially begin until next summer.

Other actions of the SC

  • Established a compensation committee to review synodical salaries.
  • Approved a proposal to conduct an independent study of our program for health care coverage.
  • Released funds for the MLC chapel project.
  • Combined and restructured the synod’s capital debt.
  • Approved a revised “Support Forecast” based on indications of increased offerings and improving financial conditions.

SC okays synod debt consolidation

At the Synodical Council meeting Nov. 2-3 in Milwaukee, Wis., a proposal was approved to consolidate the synod’s four debts, totaling $22.4 million, into one single debt.

The move helps reduce confusion over the variety of interest rates and a feeling of inequity—a feeling among some that the Board for Ministerial Education was carrying a disproportionate share, $15.1 million, of the debt load. Now the entire debt will be consolidated into one line item in the synod’s general operating budget.

Even though all but $7 million of the debt is from internal borrowing from synod special funds, the loans must be paid back to honor donor intent.

The four debts are as follows:

  • $7.3 million—for costs associated with the amalgamation of Dr. Martin Luther College and Northwestern College, and Martin Luther Prep School and Northwestern Prep in 1995.
  • $7.3 million—for operational borrowing for 2001-03.
  • $6.9 million—for the boiler house at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., and the science wing at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Mich.
  • $900,000—for a dormitory at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis.

The consolidated debt will be repaid over 10 years at four percent interest. The annual payment will be $2.7 million, an amount which will result in $550,000 in savings for the 2008-09 fiscal year budget.

http://www.wels newsletter

76 comments:

MLS Veteran said...

I don't mean to be critical about the WELS and its budget, but can someone explain what was decided at the synodical convention this summer with respect to the "Budget Crises".

For 6 months before the convention there was memo after memo about the bad shape the synod was in, and how it could not simply be fixed by cutting a little here and a little there. Hence the proposal to close Michigan Lutheran Seminary. Without such an action, it was said, the synod would need to recall MANY missionaries and thereby reduce the opportunity for calls for the new graduates of Mequon for years to come.

So, the convention was held, and it was decided to keep MLS open. Also, as far as I have heard, there have also been no plans to recall the number of missionaries cited before this summer's convention. In other words, no dramatic financial cuts were enacted.

Here is my observation:

#1. Either, the accounting practice of the synod is so bad that there was never any crises. This crises was merely an accounting error or misinterpretation, and the overall synodical finances, while not overly abundant, are not approaching collapse.

#2. Or, convention delagates just closed their eyes to the facts, and voted in essence for the status quo without regard to how their actions will be financially supported in the near future.

Currently, our congregation is barely making ends meet. How are other congregations doing out there? Does anyone on this blog belong to a congregation that can (or, possibly I should ask, would) increase its mission contribution dramatically? Our congregation, while running in the red, does send money back to the Synod, but we are financially strapped as it is.

Also, not to bring economics into the picture, but the forecast for 2008 for the national economy is a bit bleak with a prediction of continued declines in real estate values with an associated increase in foreclosures, and a tightening of lose credit.

What is the "word on the street" out there? Are people losing confidence in the ability of the synod to handle its own finances responsibly?

Why is WELS so bad at planning ahead (or maybe this is just a recent phenomana?). If Michigan Lutheran Seminary was in such bad financial shape, why the building of a new science wing? I thought MLS had been seen as being in "bad shape" for years now. The same goes for Martin Luther Prep, with declining enrollment, is a new dormitory necessary?

The "Year of Jubilee" sounds more like a child's way of saying: "Oh, I spent more than I had, Mom and Dad, please bail me out"

Anonymous said...

mls veteran,

Just wait until after the February Synodical Council meeting when drastic cuts will be announced to re-balance the budget that the convention unbalanced. It's going to be really, really bad. MLS will be right back on the chopping block. Dozens of missionaries will have to be recalled. People will howl that the synod isn't doing what the convention told them to do, without realizing that the convention made an impossible and foolish decision.

Anonymous said...

It was reported recently that we are about $1 million ahead of budget in contributions.

I would think a good discussion should focus around the debt that we still have from the amalgamation. Wasn't it to save us money? We're still paying for it!

Anonymous said...

"It was reported recently that we are about $1 million ahead of budget in contributions."

Yes, because of the one large gift and the Michigan churches finally paying their CMOs which they had been holding hostage.

We've heard rosy news before--like right before they threatened to close MLS.

Bespoke said...

Keep up the good work, BW. Better BW than BM (Becoming Missional).

The mortgage meltdown will affect all giving. WELS could pay for everything needed, but will it?

Spending millions for a chapel on that tiny college campus seems quirky or just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

"Spending millions for a chapel on that tiny college campus seems quirky or just plain silly."

Ever heard of restricted funds? They were donated before this financial crisis. They have to be used for the chapel. The only thing to do, both ethically and legally, is to build the chapel. It won't cost a dime of new money. It won't put the synod further into debt. It has been dramatically scaled down though, if that makes you feel any better.

Bespoke said...

Much better. Not really. MLC is bound to close in the next few years. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

mthntn

Unfortunately, I believe that mls veteran is correct. I believe it will be the greatest example of irony when our new Synod President will have to close both prep schools even though he was elected, in my opinion, by those who wanted to save mls at any cost. He will need to make such drastic cuts to keep MLC a float. Watch March 2008 very closely.

Anonymous said...

Well if they have to close both schools, it will be of no consequence won't it? Everybody's a minister right? Every congregation a mission. Ref: "paradigm shift" and "North American outreach."

Are they spending money they don't a have based on age demographics and what the planned giving counselors are telling them will be there?

We had a huge boom of new mission fields open when the Schwan fund was rotund in the 90's. Then when it stopped paying so well to keep up with the projections and our spending, we couldn't afford our people in the new fields.

Our church has stepped up its Mission offering despite our aging and declining membership. We are meeting our budget - barely.

Tico

Anonymous said...

"MLC is bound to close in the next few years. Mark my words."

Nah, it won't happen. Both prep schools will close in the next few years, but they'll keep MLC open at almost any cost. We can't afford four schools, but we can afford two pretty comfortably, even with lower than expected offerings. The sad thing is that by saving MLS, the delegates doomed both prep schools. By sacrificing MLS, it's possible that LPS might have been saved. Oh well, ALHSs can do the job just as well.

rlschultz said...

Yes, Bailing Water is much better to have around than Becoming Missional. At least here at Bailing Water, we are all looking for the truth in so many of these concerns where the waters have been muddied.
It doesn't sound like there are too many WELS congregations out there in which their members can brag about being in good shape financially.
At my WELS congregation, we recently defeated a motion at the voters' meeting to seek financing for an expansion. I was pleasantly surprised. Many of the members were concerned about making ends meet with a huge debt over our heads. We run a deficit right now and that alone has many shaking our heads.
The comment about current economic conditions and the forecast for 2008 is a good point. Many of us who work in the secular realm can be a whole lot more realistic at times than those who exhort us to "pay, pray, and don't ask questions". Although, we could ask our district to send out their tenured Tetzel. One meeting with a planned giving counselor ought make sure that we all have our hearts in the right place.

Anonymous said...

One Planned giving counselor called my wife and mentioned her dad and all this stuff to her and very sneaky like scheduled an appointment like we were old friends. Kind of like an Amway, "let's get togther" type approach. I got home and said why? She was just so rattled by the guy and thought his approach was very greasy. Very slick. I made her call him back and cancel the appointment and tell him, we give very regularly, have investments, watch our tax burdens and so forth AND WELS is already in our will. I am darn close to changing it though.

I have learned from Paul "to be content in all things." I think they chould too.

Tico

Bespoke said...

Keep up the great work, Bailing Water.

Anonymous said...

"Currently, our congregation is barely making ends meet. How are other congregations doing out there?" - MLS Vet

Our congregation is in a wonderful financial position. Over the last several years our budget has skyrocketed, which has enabled us (a small church with roughly 150 communicants) to pay our pastor closer to what he deserves (well above synod mission code), hire a secretary, pay most of the tuition of our church's children attending WELS/ELS schools (over $30,000 this year), complete a building project, etc... We also have a lot of money in CEF and other funds set aside, so we never even have cash flow problems.

Since 2004, we have increased our offerings to the synod from just under $8,000 to a pledge of $18,000 this year. We're still not sending the "magic number" of 10% to synod, but we do support other missions directly that take us over 10%, such as St. Croix LHS, MLC, LIMA (here in MN), Christian Life Ministries, The Lutheran Home, and even MLS. (In fact, MLS Vet may be interested to know that we have pledged almost $4,000 directly to MLS this year.)

"Spending millions for a chapel on that tiny college campus seems quirky or just plain silly." - bespoke

I used to think that, too. I also used to struggle with the fact that the early church just burned up their offerings that could have been used to feed the hungry or for some other "worthwhile" purpose. And I used to wonder how it was God-pleasing that Mary “wasted” such expensive perfume on feet. Then there are the elaborately gilded temples. Now I wonder if we’re not glorifying God like our ancestors who spared no expense in building churches and cathedrals. Too often we do things on the cheap and think being “fiscally conservative” is God-pleasing when it comes to offerings and spending God’s money.

“We can't afford four schools, but we can afford two pretty comfortably, even with lower than expected offerings.” – Anonymous

This belief doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. How exactly can we not afford four schools, but we can afford to increase every other area of “ministry”. And how can we support, as area federations and associations, about 25 high schools, but the entire synod can’t support two? I think some people just don’t want to.

CL

Anonymous said...

[I have learned from Paul "to be content in all things."] - Tico

It sure doesn't sound like it. It sounds like you're upset that someone offered you help because you don't seem to think you need it. And because your wife couldn't say no he must have used his slick Amway tricks to charm her.

I think the planned giving counselors are fantastic. Your attitude is not.

CL

Anonymous said...

[The comment about current economic conditions and the forecast for 2008 is a good point. Many of us who work in the secular realm can be a whole lot more realistic at times than those who exhort us to "pay, pray, and don't ask questions".] - rlschultz

I think those who look at church finance like they're in the secular world are sadly misguided. Offering our first fruits and going ahead with a building project and increasing our pastor's salary and on and on shouldn't be looked at as a zero sum game like a business accountant. The Lord does bless my family and my church for being good stewards of His money. Being good stewards doesn't mean giving as little as possible and spending as little as possible. I realize that the phrase, "The Lord will provide", can be overused and abused. But he has promised to bless us when we are faithful and I've seen plenty of evidence in my life and at my church to wipe away any doubt.

CL (Working in the Secular Realm)

Anonymous said...

I think the planned giving counselors are fantastic.

I do not!

M

Interested observer said...

With the exception of one person (CL) those who have posted on this topic display one of several characteristics:

1. Hopeless cynicism and pessimism (missions will be cut, budgets will not be met, the financial crisis was a lie, delegates to the convention (all 400 of them) were blind and stupid, the economy will ruin us, prep schools will be closed, the college will be closed, nothing has changed since the convention . . . etc.)

2. Complete ignorance of the facts (either through willful desire not to see them or simply through being uninformed).

Example #1:

"Convention delegates just closed their eyes to the facts, and voted in essence for the status quo without regard to how their actions will be financially supported in the near future."

FACT: The delegates were well aware that doing nothing would involve cuts. But in restoring $2.6 million to the budget for world missions and ministerial education, the delegates called on the synod's members to rise to the challenge of supporting a larger budget. They chose a new direction that said, "No more cuts. We want to expand our efforts in missions and training missionaries. And we will look to God to move our people to support that decision."

Example #2:

"What is the "word on the street" out there? Are people losing confidence in the ability of the synod to handle its own finances responsibly?"

FACT: If you have been listening, the word on the street is overwhelmingly positive about the new direction the synod has taken. You are right that confidence in the synod had eroded prior to the convention, but the change in direction taken by the convention and the actions taken by the synod since then have begun to restore that confidence all across the synod, particularly among pastors.

Example #3:

"Just wait until after the February Synodical Council meeting when drastic cuts will be announced to re-balance the budget that the convention unbalanced. It's going to be really, really bad. MLS will be right back on the chopping block. Dozens of missionaries will have to be recalled. People will howl that the synod isn't doing what the convention told them to do, without realizing that the convention made an impossible and foolish decision."

FACT: From all information available, the people of the synod are responding very positively to the decisions of the convention. Offerings are more than $1 million ahead of expected, congregations are exceeding their commitments, and CMO's for next year are reported to be increasing dramatically.

Example #4

"Spending millions for a chapel on that tiny college campus seems quirky or just plain silly."

FACT: The people of the synod have given $7.5 million specifically for a chapel. The new administration at MLC has developed a chapel design that can be built for that amount. If God's people gave money for this chapel and if the money is in hand to cover the cost of the entire project, why would we NOT build it?

Example #5:

"the forecast for 2008 for the national economy is a bit bleak with a prediction of continued declines in real estate values with an associated increase in foreclosures, and a tightening of lose credit."

FACT: If you would care to check back into history, some of the greatest examples of giving for synod have taken place during difficult economic times. The best of economic times more often result, as they have during the last six years, in less faithful stewardship.

Example #6

"The same goes for Martin Luther Prep, with declining enrollment, is a new dormitory necessary?"

FACT: The self-proclaimed expert on the synod who wrote this apparently does not know that the name of the prep school is Luther Prep. He also seems to be unaware that the dorm addition was built seven years ago, when the enrollment at Luther Prep was skyrocketing. Enrollment at both prep schools has declined in the years since then, primarily because of the drastic increases in tuition in the years 2002-04.

Example #7

"The 'Year of Jubilee' sounds more like a child's way of saying: 'Oh, I spent more than I had, Mom and Dad, please bail me out' "

FACT: The synod leadership did not ask for the debt offering. The convention delegates themselves encouraged the Conference of Presidents to undertake such an offering. They were aware that a removal of the debt would free up over $3 million for mission expansion.

Example #8

"I would think a good discussion should focus around the debt that we still have from the amalgamation"

FACT: That is exactly what the convention did (maybe you missed it being too busy trying being fixated on decisions made 12 years ago). The convention WAS concerned about the debt that came from amalgamation and took action to provide a way to remove the debt once and for all.

Example #9

"I don't mean to be critical about the WELS and its budget"

FACT: MLS Veteran opened with this statement and then proceeded to do nothing but offer uninformed criticism. Why say you are not intending to be critical when being critical is all you seem to be able to do?

I can only conclude from the posts on this string (with the exception of TL) that the people on this blog are almost hoping for the synod to fail in this new emphasis on missions and training missionaries. Why else would there be such a refusal to see the facts? Why else would there be such bitterness when there seems to be an opportunity for real change? Why else would there be the tendency to focus on mistakes of the past rather than to offer support for the faith-filled decisions of a convention? I truly feel sorry for those of you who are expressing such cynicism. God appears to be blessing our synod with a chance at a fresh start and a new direction, but you seem unwilling to acknowledge those blessings or to offer even a hint of positive support.

Rather than blather on with opionions based on false assumptions, why not talk to some real people and get the facts? Why step away from your computer and see what is starting to happen in congregations throughout the synod? I sense in you no commitment to support our mission as a synod, only a gleeful desire to tear down and evidence of hearts that have concluded that our God cannot give us even more than we ask or imagine. I truly do feel sorry for people who can only see failure, problems, and disappointment in the future and who offer absolutely no concrete suggestions for doing things better. You must be very, very unhappy.

PCK said...

Wow...couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you!

WLC said...

Interested observer

Thanks for laying out what you see as facts and your perspective. I am truly happy that there is a new positive direction being taken.

But you state primarily because of the drastic increases in tuition in the years 2002-04.

This is true and has happened across the country among private institutions. This tuition issue needs to be addressed or no matter what is done the enrollment will continue to drop. I have heard or read nothing about how our schools are going to keep tuition rates affordable. So I think that school closings could or will happen because of the lack of enrollment. Why won't MLC and WLC work closer together in training teachers? Both colleges offer teaching degrees yet MLC tells WLC you can't synodically certify teachers. MLC tells schools don't you dare call WLC grads. Come on get together and work this out. This is common sense.

WLC

Anonymous said...

"Although, we could ask our district to send out their tenured Tetzel." - rlschultz

Thank you, interested observer, for your comments. I couldn't agree more. There's just so many uninformed and pessimistic comments on this thread that it's hard to know where to begin or if it's worth it. Our synod has some issues, but they won't be solved by these folks, and I pray for and expect our synod to prosper in spite of them.

Regarding the above comment from rlschultz, in the past I've just ignored the reference to planned giving counselors as Tetzels as a poor attempt at being clever.

I would like to point out that Tetzel sold salvation for money. He even went so far as creating a chart that listed a price for each type of sin and claimed that the indulgences he sold could even save a soul who violated the virgin Mary. I have yet to see in print or hear in person a single planned giving counselor promise redemption in exchange for money. Have you, rlschultz? Has anyone else? If not, I would ask you as a brother in the faith to stop calling other brothers names that imply they are doing so, clever or not.

CL

Michael Schottey said...

3 months and we're back to the same topic? I'm glad that others have pointed out the false dictonomy espoused by the pessimists and those who try to point out the synod..."Its over there in Milwaukee!"

We are the synod. We lay the blame on our budget crisis on ourselves, not just OUR leaders. It is a spiritual problem first and a fiscal problem second. We treat stewardship like a chore to preach and a bigger chore to follow. We have widows giving their last mite (and their life insurance to boot!) while others drive around in Mercedes and give their $5 every sunday.

But we don't preach law and gospel because those aren't "felt needs"

Another observer said...

"We are the synod."

Are we? Are each of us, individually, members of the synod, or are we just members of a church that is a member of the synod? I know WELS considers the synod to be Church, so does that we are Church?

Anonymous said...

If you want to get technical about it, pastors and male teachers are members of the synod, as well as individual congregations. Laypeople are members of the synod in the sense that they belong to congregations that hold membership. Are we the synod? Yes we are. Pres. Schroeder talked about that very fact rather well in his first WELS Connection.

another observer said...

"Are we the synod? Yes we are. Pres. Schroeder talked about that very fact rather well in his first WELS Connection."

Then I guess that makes it so. I din't know because I didn't see that WELS connection. I usually leave before it starts--that jingle is bad theology (and annoying).

Anonymous said...

a silent observer . . .

I appreciate the dialogue concerning the Synod. Truth and passion need to go hand in hand.

In this thread and others I get the distinct impression that some people believe there are biblically mandated orders of service or formats for a sermon. My pastor told me that the Bible does not mandate either, ""to suggest such would be legalism -- and that's not what the WELS is about." The Bible and the Lutheran Confessions (satis est - Article VII) do not mandate such." I wonder if Jesus' sermons or parables would stand up to the scrutiny of some here. The way I read it some times Jesus used all law and some times all gospel and sometimes a mix.

I have been to several WELS churches that offer "contemporary services" (how ever one defines this) and was always pleased with the fact that all of them, including St. Mark in De Pere, had very clear confession and absolution part, clear law and gospel. Are some here possibly going to far and allowing personal preference to cloud judgment? I have appreciate the WELS Q & A on this subject, very evangelical.

I do believe there are some parts of the service received from the past that need to be in the service (only my opinion) but I cannot accuse a pastor of "sin" if he doesn't include them in his service. Are some on this blog confusing Lutheran and Biblical? I see them as the same ideally. The Bible does not mandate forms . . . let's make sure we don't.

mav said...

Dear silent observer,

And we're off the cash and back to doctrine, which you seem to be using your own feelings to determine. The debate of form vs. substance has been fought. Read the sainted Prof. Marquart's excellent work, "Church Growth as Missions Paradigm".

aso-"In this thread and others I get the distinct impression that some people believe there are biblically mandated orders of service or formats for a sermon."

Why do you get this impression? What exactly was written that led you to this?


aso-""to suggest such would be legalism -- and that's not what the WELS is about."

Thanks for the comic relief.

aso-" The Bible and the Lutheran Confessions (satis est - Article VII) do not mandate such."

AC VII does not mean that everything was now up for grabs in a "worship service". The Lutheran reformers did not freely borrow "methods" from Zwingli.

aso-"I wonder if Jesus' sermons or parables would stand up to the scrutiny of some here."

Why do you say this? Direct quotes would be helpful.


aso-"I have been to several WELS churches that offer "contemporary services" (how ever one defines this) and was always pleased with the fact that all of them, including St. Mark in De Pere, had very clear confession and absolution part, clear law and gospel. "

And I have been to abominable contemporary services that had none of the above and have family who have been to St. Mark in DePere on days when there was no Gospel preached.

aso-"Are some here possibly going to far and allowing personal preference to cloud judgment? "

As opposed to yourself?

aso-"I do believe there are some parts of the service received from the past that need to be in the service (only my opinion) but I cannot accuse a pastor of "sin" if he doesn't include them in his service. Are some on this blog confusing Lutheran and Biblical? I see them as the same ideally. The Bible does not mandate forms . . . let's make sure we don't."

The Holy Liturgy of the Church is not a set of Snap-On tools.

You will need much more than your experience and feelings to back up what you have said.

Study communication theory. Forms are never without substance. There is a reason why Baptists and Lutherans worship differently. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

mav

The BL said...

"In this thread and others I get the distinct impression that some people believe there are biblically mandated orders of service or formats for a sermon. My pastor told me that the Bible does not mandate either, 'to suggest such would be legalism -- and that's not what the WELS is about.'"

Your impression is wrong. Legalism is the straw man. This is how the conversation usually goes:
A: "I think we should replace the creed and confession with something more mordern and relevant"
B: "Why? Those are valuble parts of our service."
A: "Because the bible doesn't say we have to. You're trying to make it a law, and legalism is bad. Stop telling me I'm sinning."

If you don't beleive me, keep reading:

"I do believe there are some parts of the service received from the past that need to be in the service (only my opinion) but I cannot accuse a pastor of "sin" if he doesn't include them in his service. Are some on this blog confusing Lutheran and Biblical? I see them as the same ideally. The Bible does not mandate forms . . . let's make sure we don't."

No one is saying that, but for those of you that insist everything is adiaphora, consider these words: "Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference."

But back to your point--whether certain "forms" are "mandated" has never been the issue. Here is the issue: "Because I can" is not a good reason for abandoning good Lutheran liturgical practices.

The following sentence is further proof of your confusion:

"The way I read it some times Jesus used all law and some times all gospel and sometimes a mix."

I hope you didn't get this from your pastor, because it doesn't make sense. Christ is the Gospel.

BL

Norman Teigen said...

How about this idea: close MLC and send your people to Bethany. We close Bethany Seminary and send our people to Mequon.

Norman Teigen
ELS layman

Anonymous said...

Then we close Mequon and send everyone to Fort Wayne.

KM said...

Genuine theology always embodies itself in practice, and authentic practice is steeped in theology. Theology without practice is empty, and practice without theology is blind. Each is bankrupt without the other.

KM

Donald McGavran said...

Mission theology, mission theory, and mission practice. These three do not exist in isolation, but as an integrated whole-theology influencing theory and practice, practice coloring theology and theory, and theory guiding both practice and theology.

Donald McGavran

MLS Veteran said...

I would like to take a moment to apologize to anyone who I offended with my iniitial post to this topic. I would like to state that:

#1. I certainly do not take any joy in the synod's financial troubles; I certainly do not want the synod to fail in any way.

#2. I can see where my analogy of the Year of Jubilee to children asking for more money from their parents was inappropriate and possibly inflamatory.

#3. My intention was never to start discord among fellow Christians.

However, the main point I made previously is that we had been told many times that the synod was in immediate financial crisis. President Gurgel in his summer WELS connection address emphasized the financial crisis, with severe cuts looming in the immediate future for either prep schools or mission fields in order for the synod to survive.

I have never thought of President Gurgel (or any other WELS president) as a scare monger. And while there had been that "double spending" of synodical money a few years ago, an independent auditor declared that NO fraud had been perpetuated.

So, what is the problem here?

I certainly do NOT believe that there is any conspiratorial group within the WELS administration that is seeking its own selfish agenda. I have heard this espoused by both those who wanted to see MLS closed as well as those who wanted it kept open.

Yes, it would be a good thing if we hit the target for the Year of Jubilee offering. Perhaps I am taking too much of a micro look at this issue since my congregation is in a fairly tight financial condition.

I just see this "Year of Jubilee" sort of like a church bake sale. Bake sales (open to the public) can be excellent outreach vehicle for a church, however, as a substantial source of church contributions they usually fall somewhat short. Again, that is my experience.

I offer this as a respectful opinion, and hope God Blesses all of you out on this blog site.

Anonymous said...

interested observer and CL,

Are we being too pessimistic, or are we being realistic while you're overly optimistic?

Only time will tell. February of 2008 will be a huge indicator.

But, in my opinion, there's nothing in recent synodical history to suggest taking such an optimistic stance. Trusting God to bless does not always equal financial success.

Bespoke said...

Norm? Norm! Send Bethany Seminary students to the Sausage Factory at Mequon? Horrors. Bethany College and MLC could be merged in Makato. A new name for the combo could be: Northwestern College. I like it!

Fewer colleges will exist in the next decade.

Anonymous said...

WLC,

You said:

"Why won't MLC and WLC work closer together in training teachers? Both colleges offer teaching degrees yet MLC tells WLC you can't synodically certify teachers. MLC tells schools don't you dare call WLC grads."

Thank God that MLC keeps its distance from WLC! Thank God that WLC teachers aren't synodically certified and that schools are told not to call people from WLC!

Here's why:

1. WLC is not funded or run by the synod. Thus, the synod has no say over what sort of graduates it produces.

2. Our synod has designated MLC as the school at which it trains synodical teachers. Those who go to WLC hoping for a call are attempting to circumvent and subvert the system.

3. WLC is the hotbed and center of the liberal, Church Growth wing of the synod. WLC faculty have published articles which clearly and bluntly promote a liberal view of things like the authority of women and fellowship.

4. WLC also puts these false doctrines into practice. For example, it allows those not in fellowship with us to sing in the choir and to preside at campus worship.

5. If our called workers were trained at such a place, our synod would fall into false doctrine far more quickly than it already is.

I'll say it again: Thank God that the WELS and MLC distance themselves from WLC. Thank God for WELS pastors who actively warn the children of their congregations not to go to WLC. If only the WELS would go the whole way and make it clear that WLC is an organization that promotes false doctrine and practice and thus has no connection with the WELS at all. Many problems would be stopped, or at least slowed.

WLC said...

2. Our synod has designated MLC as the school at which it trains synodical teachers. Those who go to WLC hoping for a call are attempting to circumvent and subvert the system.

This is happening so why turn a blind eye and so "oh no" MLC is only allowed to certify. The education faculty at WLC and MLC know full well that some students interested in teaching in the Lutheran system go to WLC for this purpose. 1) WLC has the same curriculum as MLC (even a teaching religion course).

3. WLC is the hotbed and center of the liberal, Church Growth wing of the synod. WLC faculty have published articles which clearly and bluntly promote a liberal view of things like the authority of women and fellowship

Give me a break. 2) I would say that the theology professors are as confessionally sound as MLC's (ie Prof. Cortright).

4. WLC also puts these false doctrines into practice. For example, it allows those not in fellowship with us to sing in the choir and to preside at campus worship.

False!


5. If our called workers were trained at such a place, our synod would fall into false doctrine far more quickly than it already is.


WLC is not the Church and Change group. 3) WLC trains some of our called teachers now and provides an urban setting which New Ulm doesn't!

Anonymous said...

"This is happening so why turn a blind eye and so "oh no""

Just because something wrong is happening doesn't mean that we just accept it. It means we try to stop it.

"I would say that the theology professors are as confessionally sound as MLC's (ie Prof. Cortright)."

For everyone one confessionally sound prof at WLC, I can list 2 Church-Growther and/or non-WELS prof.

"False!"

Read Charis. Articles have been written boasting of the exact things I mentioned.

"WLC is not the Church and Change group."

No, but it's the home of the Church and Change group as well as Charis. Without the profs and resources of WLC, there would be no C&C.

WLC said...

non-WELS prof

Please tell me who is at WLC that is not WELS.

WLC-Defender said...

"For everyone one confessionally sound prof at WLC, I can list 2 Church-Growther and/or non-WELS prof."

You have to be WELS to teach at WLC. They would also like you to have your PhD.

The current theology professors are good, confessional men. You owe them all an apology for your slander.

WLC-Defender

Anonymous said...

"The current theology professors are good, confessional men."

I've read Charis. That's about as far from good and confessional as you can get.

(And I didn't write the "non-WELS" thing, but my guess is that the writer meant non-WELS-certified, meaning they don't have synodical certification and are laypeople who were hired, not called.)

WLC-defender said...

"I've read Charis. That's about as far from good and confessional as you can get."

What does Charis have to do with the theology faculty at WLC? How many of them have written in it?

"(And I didn't write the "non-WELS" thing, but my guess is that the writer meant non-WELS-certified, meaning they don't have synodical certification and are laypeople who were hired, not called.)"

All the theology professors (and the some of the other faculty) are ordianed ministers.

Defend your statement or apologize.

WLC-defender

Anonymous said...

"All the theology professors (and the some of the other faculty) are ordianed ministers."

But see, that just highlights the difference between MLC and WLC all the more. At MLC, every single professor is theologically-trained and synodically-certified and called. At WLC, that only applies to a small group of theology professors. WLC is basically a secular college with a little hint of theology. MLC is college at which every professor knows and teaches the Word. Just because the WLC faulty are WELS laypeople, doesn't mean a thing for their knowledge of the Word. Most WELS laypeople have an extremely limited knowledge of the deeper truths. Perhaps that why WLC has so many problems with doctrine and practice.

Anonymous said...

All WLC professors are called. All have been certified. All are WELS ministers. All WLC professors have as much training in the "Word" as it relates to their discipline as do their counterparts at MLC. All staff (secretaries, custodial staff etc.) are also ministers in the WELS as MLC professor Thomas Nass wrote in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. Learn your WELS' doctrine of ministry.

STP

Confused said...

STP

"All staff (secretaries, custodial staff etc.) are also ministers in the WELS as MLC professor Thomas Nass wrote in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly."

Please explain what this sentence means. I'm confused...

Anonymous said...

Confused,

You must not be WELS. I needed to straighten out the person who -against WELS doctrine - said that most of WLC profs are "laymen". Nope. All who do work in the church are ministers, all teachers, all profs, all, including other staff such as secretaries and custodians are, so says Professor Thomas Nass in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly (Professor Schuetz says likewise in "Church-Mission-Ministry") and you can't get much more official than that! I don't know what is confusing about that! (So that person who made that charge must not be WELS either!)

STP

Confused said...

STP -

Ok now I see where you are coming from. The WELS now claims that everyone is a minister so there is no such thing as a layperson. This has come from a seminary prof so it must be true.

I am WELS and I'm confused..

Anonymous said...

Dear WELS and Confused,

No, no, no, not everyone is a minister, just those who are asked or called or volunteer when the call goes out to do things in the church, such as those I mentioned. This is the official WELS position as it is articulated in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly and in the synodically approved booket I mentioned. And if you are WELS you agree. You agree, don't you? I would wager that all of the WELS people who read this blog agree.

STP

P.S. To the WLC disser - in my opinion the quality of the theological education is far better at WLC than at MLC. I have children who have gone to both schools. And my children agree.

WLC said...

I'm the one who started this little WLC diversion. I am WELS. I believe that the MLC and WLC should discuss ways in which both schools can mutually help each other out. From what I have heard this doesn't happen because MLC profs and administrators have become very territorial. They don't want anyone infringing on their duty to train all called workers. As I said WLC is not church and change and is as confessionally sound as MLC, so a partnership in some areas could reduce costs and could be a more effective way of training teachers.

Anonymous said...

"WLC is not church and change and is as confessionally sound as MLC,"

Funniest thing I've heard in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Come on Charis and C&C are different, but they are connected because some of the people associated with C&C are also associated with Charis. Let's not pretend that they are 2 distinct groups with nothing to do with each other--they are connected by commonality in peopple involved, thought, theory, doctrine & practice.

Anonymous said...

"interested observer and CL,

Are we being too pessimistic, or are we being realistic while you're overly optimistic?

Only time will tell." - Anonymous

I suppose time will tell, though pessimistic attitudes tend to be self-fulfilling. I hope it's not as widespread of an attitude in the WELS as it is in this thread.

Every year, when it comes time to budget for the next fiscal year at our church, there are those who claim to be realistic, not pessimistic, when putting limits on God's promises. We've gone from collecting @$70,000 in 2000 to a budget of @$260,000 this year. I don't remember a single year where we increased the budget by less than 10%. A few years we've increased it by well over 20%. Yet every year, "realists" object to projecting a rise in offerings by more than inflation. Considering how much God has blessed our decisions to challenge ourselves every single year, would you call that realistic or pessimistic?

By the way, when our church does pass a budget, those same “realists” who have objected during the process of adopting a budget don’t speak out against the church’s decision all year long and predict failure and demise, seemingly hoping for it. They support it. So their attitudes aren’t exactly the same as represented in this thread.

CL

Jesse D. Phillips said...

WLC dissers,

At least one of you have accused WLC (and/or its administrators and teachers)of false doctrine. I'd like to know more about this. If public and true, it is a serious matter and you need to be more specific. If you cannot provide details, then you need to exercise some control over those busy typing fingers and kindly let some of your more prurient thoughts remain unexpressed.

I'm a graduate of WLC. My theology professors and courses were excellent, as were my history and philosophy courses--which were also taught by highly qualified WELS pastors. In fact, all my professors were excellent--a fact which leads me to question how the college or I would have benefited from having a "WELS-certified" professor teach a seminar course on the southern novel.

Moreover, I'm not sure what Charis has to do with this conversation. To my knowledge, Charis' perspective is not the college's. In fact, the last I heard, Charis had ceased operation indefinitely. And to the poster that said this:

“Come on Charis and C&C are different, but they are connected because some of the people associated with C&C are also associated with Charis. Let's not pretend that they are 2 distinct groups with nothing to do with each other--they are connected by commonality in peopple (sic) involved, thought, theory, doctrine & practice.”

Couldn’t the same thing be said about C&C and the WELS?

JDP

Anonymous said...

"In fact, all my professors were excellent--a fact which leads me to question how the college or I would have benefited from having a "WELS-certified" professor teach a seminar course on the southern novel."

Hmm, so all of your profs weren't WELS certified? Very interesting. Others very strenuously made the point that all WLC profs were WELS certified and called.

Purposeful deception or ignorant mistake?

Jesse D. Phillips said...

"Hmm, so all of your profs weren't WELS certified?"

Did I say that? I'd have to know what you mean by "WELS certified" to answer that.

"Others very strenuously made the point that all WLC profs were WELS certified and called."

And others have insisted they are not. What is your point?

Oh, here it is:

"Purposeful deception or ignorant mistake?"

Nope. My point is, "certified" or not (see above--I don't know), the professors I had were great.

Oh yeah, and WLC taught me to respond to what people actually say. I know its hard though, as our flesh (myself included) often tempts us to play "gotcha" instead.

JDP

Anonymous said...

"Did I say that?"

Yup. Let me quote you: "leads me to question how the college or I would have benefited from having a "WELS-certified" professor" Now, since WLC taught you so well, it should be clear that if you are wondering how a WELS certified prof would have been beneficial, then you must not have had a WELS certified prof. If the prof was WELS certified, that sentence would make no sense.

"I'd have to know what you mean by "WELS certified" to answer that."

WELS certification is the process by which WELS schools certify that their teachers have been instructed in Christian and Lutheran truths. This is done by going to MLC, or by going through their certification process. Just reading through the faculty directory online reveals that most WLC profs did not go to (D)MLC. Have they really all gone through the certification process?

"Oh yeah, and WLC taught me to respond to what people actually say."

Really? Because my question about deception or mistake wasn't even referring to you. It was referring to the original person who claimed that all WLC profs were WELS certified. I never said anything about you.

JDP said...

"It was referring to the original person who claimed that all WLC profs were WELS certified. I never said anything about you."

You quoted me. I think it was reasonable mistake, but thanks for the clarification.

"Now, since WLC taught you so well, it should be clear that if you are wondering how a WELS certified prof would have been beneficial, then you must not have had a WELS certified prof."

Read what I wrote again. You said, "Hmm, so all of your profs weren't WELS certified? Very interesting." The words "all of my profs weren't WELS certified" appear nowhere in what I wrote. In fact, I don't know if they were. Again, "certified or not" wasn't my point. The point was, does WELS certification make a professor better at teaching a Southern Novel class? What is/are/would be/have been/ the benefits of having WELS certified college professors in subjects such as English, Ecconomics, History, etc.?

"If the prof was WELS certified, that sentence would make no sense."

I used the wrong verb tense. My apologies. I guess that is what I get for using my real name--public grammar-based humiliation.

JDP

Anonymous said...

A press release was just issued regarding the retirement of WLC's president. I thought this paragraph was particularly interesting:

"Prior to the Wisconsin Lutheran presidency, Kriewall, a biomedical engineer, was vice president of research and development at Medtronic in Jacksonville, Fla. With both Medtronic and also 3M Company, Kriewall devoted much of his professional life to developing medical products ranging from cochlear implants to heart/lung machines."

What does any of that have to do with being the president of a college? More importantly, what does any of that have to do with leading a (supposedly) religious institution? How could anyone look at that and say that MLC and WLC are on the same theological level or that they (should) share the same purpose, goals, or mission?

Anonymous said...

"More importantly, what does any of that have to do with leading a (supposedly) religious institution?"

It shows that WLC has a good understanding of the doctrine of vocation--not everyone has to be in the ministry to use their God given talents to do God pleasing work.

Anonymous said...

No, it means they have a terrible understanding of the doctrine of vocation. Vocation refers to the laity serving God in the secular world, not the laity taking on positions of religious leadership in the church or church organizations. (Or at least the claim by WLC is that WLC is part of the church. I tend to disagree.)

RNN said...

Dear Anonymous of 7:02,

I am not familiar with your definition of vocation. Where are you getting this definition?

I understand vocation as those callings that God gives to Christians, clergy and/or lay. I have not heard before that vocation is limited to the secular realm.

I have heard and believe that some vocations are common to all Christians--such as all Christians having the calling to hear God's Word and receive his gifts through that Word. Or all Christians having the vocation to pray.

Likewise, the roles in the family that we possess (Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, sister, brother . . ) and our jobs (. . . or student? As one source lists them) are also vocations that are not common to all Christians. This means that clergy have the vocation to serve in the office; lay memebers do not, but serve God in their vocations--at home and/or in the workfield.

It is this understanding of vocation that sees all service done by Christians as pleasing to God and extensions of God's love into the world, thus leaving no need to make everyone a minister so everyone can get their chance to serve God. But that is a different topic.

Back to the point here, what is wrong with having a lay-member as the president of WLC? After all, the purpose of WLC is to provide a college education to WELS laymembers who will serve in various vocations--such as a vice-president at Medtronice--while remaining faithful Christians. Seems to me that such a lay-person would be an excellent choice to lead such an institution.

And being vice-president in a company like Medtronic means this man would be experienced in leading and working with large groups of people; again, a good fit for the administrative post of college president. Such a man would be well qualified to serve in that vocation.

RNN

Anonymous said...

"After all, the purpose of WLC is to provide a college education to WELS laymembers who will serve in various vocations"

If that's true, then why bother with a theology department? Why bother calling yourself a Lutheran college? Why bother publishing things like Charis?

"And being vice-president in a company like Medtronic means this man would be experienced in leading and working with large groups of people"

What about his theological experience and aptitude and understanding? What about his Christian character and example? Does that have any place at all?

See, this is my problem with WLC. It's kinda like the Boy Scouts. It claims to be religious when it's profitable to be religious. It claims to be secular when it's profitable to be secular. WLC needs to make its mind up. If they want to be a religious organization (centered around Word and Sacrament) then they should have called pastoral leadership. If they want to be a secular organization, then they should stop advertising in churches and publishing Charis.

(Thrivent is another good example of such an organization.)

Anonymous said...

"If that's true, then why bother with a theology department? Why bother calling yourself a Lutheran college?"

By that line of thinking we should also do away with Lutheran grade schools and high schools - why bother having a Lutheran school for many that will not go into the ministry?

Anonymous said...

"By that line of thinking we should also do away with Lutheran grade schools and high schools - why bother having a Lutheran school for many that will not go into the ministry?"

But the grade schools and high schools are very clear about being part of the church. They're very clear about being led by those who have been trained and called as ministers. Their focus very clearly is on the means of grace.

None of those things can be said of WLC.

MLS Veteran said...

Wow, the subject really seems to have migrated from what I thought would have mainly been a conversation on how WELS handles it finances.

I still think that WELS has a poor record of long term and strategic planning.

Perhaps in the long run the Schwann fund has actually been more of a curse than a blessing.

Even at our small, struggling congregation a member once asked "Maybe the Schwann fund can help us out".

Sometimes the calvary is not riding to the rescue; sometimes YOU ARE THE CALVARY.

Just a few words for thought:

Manage your money, or your money manages you.

Good planning beats wishful thinking everytime.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps in the long run the Schwann fund has actually been more of a curse than a blessing."

Not for WLC...but then again "[i]t claims to be religious when it's profitable to be religious. It claims to be secular when it's profitable to be secular," right Anon?

Anonymous said...

Right.

Anonymous said...

"Even at our small, struggling congregation a member once asked "Maybe the Schwann fund can help us out"."

The same sort of mindset is present at my congregation too. We let ourselves get deeper and deeper into debt while hoping that a large gift will be made to rescue us. The gift inevitably gets made, everyone says, "See, God provides!" and then the cycle starts all over again and back into debt we go. Nobody realizes that God can also provide through their regular offerings and that if they supported our mission as generously as they could, we wouldn't need to hope for large gifts in the first place. It seems that the WELS operates in much the same way: get into debt and then hope for large, one-time gifts to save us. That's not trusting God, that's tempting God.

Another observer said...

"See, this is my problem with WLC. It's kinda like the Boy Scouts. It claims to be religious when it's profitable to be religious. It claims to be secular when it's profitable to be secular. WLC needs to make its mind up. If they want to be a religious organization (centered around Word and Sacrament) then they should have called pastoral leadership. If they want to be a secular organization, then they should stop advertising in churches and publishing Charis.

(Thrivent is another good example of such an organization."

WLC is nothing like Thrivent. All of WLC's teachers are called and members in good standing of a WELS congregation. All of WLC's theology professors are called and ordained WELS clergy.

You need to stop speculating about WLC’s motives. People that have attended WLC know what it is like. Those that haven't can either take your word--which makes little sense and projects impure motives into the hearts of those involved with WLC--or they can take the word of those who have actually attended WLC and know the administrators and professors.

Will people here believe the person with first-hand knowledge or the anonymous slanderer?

Another observer

PS: Regarding your repeated comments about Charis--do you actually read what other people have written, or do you just imagine that you know what they have written and then respond to those imaginary arguments? Charis' connection with WLC has already been explained. Charis is now on an indefinite hiatus.

As one poster already said--if you insist on accusing WLC of false doctrine, our Lutheran understanding of the Eight Commandment requires that you either substantiate that claim with PROOF or sit on your hands.

Anonymous said...

Just posting because I noticed that we were on comment "69." I recognize that the number may be offensive to some, so here you go--post 70...to ensure no one is made to feel uncomfortable in any way, shape or form.

Anonymous said...

What interests me is the WLC calling process. Right now I see that a search committee is on the look out for a new president. I don't think anything is necessarily wrong with having a call process follow this format. But is this how WLC fills all its teaching position?

Anonymous said...

"Just posting because I noticed that we were on comment "69." I recognize that the number may be offensive to some, so here you go--post 70...to ensure no one is made to feel uncomfortable in any way, shape or form."

Are all MLC grads this polite?

Bespoke said...

St. Marvin of Schwan bankrupted WELS. It was not his fault, but his gifts lubricated the downhill slide of WELS. Giving money to greedy, wasteful men is a big mistake. They should have been given copies of the Triglotta and some Lutheran theological works.

Anonymous said...

"Are all MLC grads this polite?"

I'm not a MLC grad. I am not a teacher. I am not a pastor. I am just a regular 'ole layperson.

Now, MLC students have their faults, but I wrote it and I haven't stepped foot on that campus since 1998 when I was there for a gradeschool basketball meet. So, I can't blame MLC for my lack of maturity (and for others who lack maturity on here, I am thinking they can't all blame MLC either).

I have no idea why you thought I was an MLC grad, but I'm a solid product of a lovely secular college in a conservative part of the country (i.e. My prof for "Issues of Unity and Diversity" was Irish and solidly pro-life as was my entire class. It was a very boring "debate" day as we all agreed).

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, is the WELS synod in its Year of Jubilee going to forgive all loans that it has with congregations? Sounds like a nice thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Read The Motley Magpie.