On October 12-13, 2012, commission members from all three member congregations, Our Redeemer Forsyth, IL, Pilgrim Decatur, IL, and Redeemer St. Clair Shores, MI, along with Pastor Brock Abbott from Pilgrim, returned to the Wyndham Lisle-Chicago Hotel and Executive Meeting Center for the fall General Meeting of the United Lutheran Mission Association (ULMA). Pastor John Hafermann from Our Redeemer Forsyth joined in by phone.
Our mission churches were represented by their pastors, Rev. William C. Mack from Christ the Rock Lutheran Church in California, Rev. James Behling from Sola Scriptura in Wisconsin, and Rev. James Shaw from Agnus Dei Lutheran Church in Virginia. It was a blessing for the commission representatives and mission pastors to meet again, and we rejoiced in the sharing of the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
Both Friday and Saturday were spent in meetings and fellowship. Planning for the upcoming year included reviews of budget information and areas for growth. The mission congregations talked about the blessings and challenges of the prior half year.
Members of Christ the Rock have been worshiping at their new location at Calavera Hills Elementary School in Carlsbad, CA, for a few weeks. With few churches in the area, the congregation is making a positive impact with its traditional, liturgical, Christ-centered worship. A prior outreach attempt in El Cajon among the Chaldean refugees who have settled in the area has been discontinued. The refugees have a strong affiliation with the Catholic Church, and were not receptive to Lutheran outreach.
Sola Scriptura is now using Wisconsin Memorial Park’s larger chapel, which recently became available. The congregation has noted an increase in visitors in the past six months. Pr. Behling’s devotional writings are sent to twenty families in the area, garnering positive feedback.
Members of Agnus Dei are rejoicing in the addition of two new families who recently joined the congregation. Their largest Sunday attendance took place when they were blessed to add a new member via baptism. Pastor Shaw and the members of Agnus Dei have been diligent in asking visitors how they heard about the congregation. With personal contact being the most popular answer, it is clear that an invitation from a family member, co-worker, or friend is still the most effective outreach. Information dissemination via modern, electronic means is very helpful for those “looking”. But nothing beats a prayerful, personal invitation.
Pastor Brock Abbott from Pilgrim Decatur officially announced that on August 7, 2012, the Illinois Board of Higher Education granted to Walther Theological Seminary (WTS) the Certificate of Approval and Authorization to operate in the Prairie Region of the State of Illinois. The concept for WTS began in 2009. Upon approval of Pilgrim’s voters, research was undertaken and the groundwork was laid to start a Lutheran seminary. The primary mission of WTS is to meet the needs of Pilgrim and like-minded confessional Lutheran congregations by training reliable men as candidates for the pastoral ministry. Secondarily, the seminary offers proficiency in Lutheran theology to laity and professional church workers. The generous donations of WTS supporters have enabled the seminary to offer the Master of Divinity degree program tuition-free.
WTS is solely under the direction of Pilgrim Lutheran Church. As a mission association and not a synod, the ULMA does not own or operate a seminary. WTS will serve as a valuable resource for the Lutheran Church, and we look forward to its formal dedication. More information may be found at www.wtsem.org.