WELS and WMLT…
Yesterday, a group of LCMS representatives arrived at Saint Peter, Minnesota, on the campus of Gustavus Adulphus College for the Wisconsin Synod's National Conference on Worship. The Wisconsin Synod has been holding worship conferences since 1996, and this is their sixth conference. As of the end of June 2011, nearly 900 people registered for this worship conference. The plenary speaker stated that the WELS Conference on Worship is the largest worship conference in the Western Hemisphere. A significant percentage of WELS church workers (pastors and church musicians) attend the conference. This is remarkable considering the size of WELS (around 400,000 members) in comparison to the ELCA and the LCMS, not to mention other Protestant groups in North America. This shows in part WELS commitment to Lutheran Worship.
A recurring theme at the WELS Conference on Worship is "authentic Lutheran Worship." Yesterday, I heard a presentation by Jonathan Schroeder about a WELS mission start in Atlanta (Faith, Sharpsburg, GA) in 2001. The pastor was confronted with starting a church in a strange land to Lutherans -- the Deep South, where the predominate religious affiliation is Baptist and other Evangelical groups. He explained the recognition that he did not make a good baptist, nor could his fledging congregation compete with the musical groups or styles of the mega churches. His conclusion, the only option is to be authentically Lutheran. He had many good suggestions for being a "missional" church while remaining authentically Lutheran. Approximately 100 people attended Jonathan Schroeder's session on "Teaching Worship." This is a session that would have been good for me to hear starting out as a pastor.
By way of observation and not comment ... Another interesting theme or motif that recurs among WELS people is the Synodical Conference. While I suspect many LCMS folk give little to no thought to the Synodical Conference that broke up in the late 1950s. Yet for many in WELS the Synodical Conference or rather the breakup of the Synodical Conference is a defining moment. In a sense, the break of the Synodical Conference is the sad story about the dissolution of a family -- three sisters who could no longer have a Life Together. In any case, I cannot remember the last time I heard the Synodical Conference mentioned at an official LCMS event.
The Conference Book is literally a book of over 200 pages. The conference is rather impressive and well done. Below are some photos of the Gustavus Adulphus Campus. Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to visit the Wisconsin Synod's Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota.
Representatives from the LCMS include: Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Herb Mueller, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Rev. Jon Vieker, Rev. Larry Vogel, and Rev. John Willie, District President of South Wisconsin. As few people know us, we are able to go about the conference more or less incognito. Thus far the conference is not only impressive but rather edifying.
Gustavus Adolphus College is affiliated with the ELCA and is rooted in a Swedish and Lutheran heritage. The college is 150 years old. The campus is rather impressive.
Gustavus Adolphus was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He fought for the Protestant cause during the 30 years war, and made Sweden the third largest nation in Europe after Russia and Spain. He was known as the "Father of Modern Warfare." He restored a number of territories to the Lutheran faith, but his early death resulted in the loss of several territories to the Roman Catholic forces. He is honored as a hero in many Lutheran lands for his efforts during the 30 years war.
Gustavus Adolphus College hosts the Nobel Conference each year since 1963, where top scientists, philosophers, and Nobel Prize winners lecture on a variety of topics. The Nobel Conference for 2011 is the 47th and is on the topic of The Brain and Being Human.
The jewel and figurative if not the literal center of the campus is Christ Chapel.