WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday – Encouraging Word – November 2016

Coming Next Fall: WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday

As we work together in Christ to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all people, we realize the value of promoting ownership of and celebrating these kingdom endeavors. To accomplish this as well as to encourage growth in Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) and special unrestricted gifts from individuals, WELS Conference of Presidents has proposed an annual WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday.

How would this work?

  • Starting in mid-2017, WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday resources will be available for use during the fall of the year so it will coincide with CMO encouragement for calendar year congregations or in the winter (e.g., Epiphany) for fiscal year congregations.
  • Congregations may choose to observe their own WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday or they may gather with other WELS congregations for a traditional-style mission festival.
  • In addition to contemplating God’s grace on us and the privilege of proclaiming Jesus in our communities, individuals and congregations will have the opportunity to learn about and enhance synod mission efforts through CMO growth and special individual offerings to WELS Mission and Ministry or their favorite area of WELS ministry.
  • By God’s gracious blessing, we will better understand the gospel ministry we perform together, our prayers will be more specific, and we will find joyous satisfaction in increasing our support for WELS ministries that share the eternal good news of Jesus with souls around the world.

WELS Endowments Distribute Funds to Missions, Ministerial Education – Encouraging Word – September 2016

WELS Endowments Distribute Funds to Missions, Ministerial Education

The 2005 synod convention resolved that WELS establish and build up endowment funds for the support of WELS Missions and Ministerial Education. An endowment fund is a donor restricted gift that is not spent immediately but invested in a diversified investment portfolio. Annual distributions from the endowment funds are used to provide a source of ongoing financial support.

So far God’s people have given $21.3 million to these endowment funds—$11.8 million to the Missions endowments and $9.5 million to the Ministerial Education endowments. Annual distributions are made each year in July. This year’s distribution totaled $787,444—$435,175 to Missions and $352,269 to Ministerial Education.

According to Paul Prange, administrator for Ministerial Education, the funds are providing much-needed financial assistance to students. “One third of all of our graduates from Martin Luther College graduate debt-free. And the MLC graduates who continue at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary never add any education debt. We give thanks to God for these remarkable statistics, due in part to the distributions from WELS endowment funds.”

The Missions endowments are also helping our synod take advantage of the outreach opportunities God is giving us at home and abroad. “Along with Congregation Mission Offerings and special gifts to Home Missions, these endowment funds are allowing Home Missions to start and enhance missions in North America,” says Keith Free, administrator of Home Missions. Larry Schlomer, administrator for World Missions, says, “These gifts allow us to respond to new opportunities that are developing right now through immigrant contact in WELS congregations and new leads online. Thanks to the gifts, several outreach opportunities are possible in places like Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Guatemala, and Venezuela.”

In addition to the $21.3 million already given to the WELS endowment funds, another $50.4 million is expected from planned gifts. The convention set a goal of gathering $300 million for the WELS endowments, which would ultimately distribute about $6 million each year to both Missions and Ministerial Education.

Congregation Mission Offerings Update – Encouraging Word – March 2016

Congregation Mission Offerings Update

Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) for calendar year 2015 ended the year 1.1 percent higher than 2014 gifts and 2.9 percent higher than subscriptions. Total CMO for the year was $21.5 million, an increase of $234,000 over the previous year. This is the highest CMO total in the synod’s history and the fourth consecutive year that congregations have exceeded their subscriptions. “We praise Jesus for providing such generous offerings through his people’s congregations!” says Kurt Lueneburg, director of the Ministry of Christian Giving.

Recently, 95 percent of WELS congregations reported their plans for 2016 CMO. While CMO subscriptions for 2016 show a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2015 actual receipts, no reductions in ministry are necessary because of the higher than anticipated offerings in 2015.

“We thank God for the high percentage of congregations that reported subscriptions for CMO for 2016,” says Lueneburg. “We are confident that Jesus will enable our churches to exceed their subscriptions for the fifth consecutive year.”

Lueneburg says that a stable—not declining—CMO makes it possible to maintain the present level of ministry as long as there are also many substantial special gifts from churches and individuals. While CMO has increased about 1 percent annually over the last ten years, that increase provides only one-third of the 3 percent annual increase in gifts needed for maintaining WELS’ present level of worldwide gospel outreach for Jesus. “We ask our heavenly Father to help us keep growing in the grace of giving for our local and global ministries,” he says. “This is an opportunity for each of us to dedicate to the Lord an increased level of financial support through our congregations and special gifts. To that end, God help us.”