Mission Board report to the� by c9L2e73

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									                        Dakota/Montana District Mission Board
                    Report to the Dakota/Montana District Convention
                                  June 11-13, 2002, in Watertown, SD

           Unable to explain why a certain man was born blind, Jesus’ disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Notice their assumption: problems, all problems must
be a consequence of some sin. When life is not working the way we desire, we feel a need to blame
somebody. Jesus, however, plainly points out that this particular problem is not a case where God is
punishing someone’s sin -- “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus says -- but is a situation
where God is setting the stage for another miracle displaying God’s glory -- “this happened so the work
of God might be displayed in his life.” Then, while spitting on the ground, making some mud with the
saliva, putting it on this blind man’s eyes and telling him, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” – when this
man obediently goes and washes, he will come home seeing – Jesus speaks familiar words: “As long as
it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am
in the world, I am the light of the world.”[JN 9]
           When we today face a future where, as a synod, we will reportedly be unable to continue
supporting all the new or old programs we have begun, at least with our current level of offerings, there
is certainly a temptation to ask, “Who sinned?” “Who blindly piloted us down this narrowing financial
path?” When, as a synod, we face a future where our Board for Home Missions (BHM) may only
anticipate opening two or three missions per year instead of twenty a year, as we were able to do in the
recent past; when we feel our Lord’s light might be shining a little less brightly through our ministries;
when we sense our Savior’s life-giving gospel rays may not fall on as many souls as we would desire, we
might feel a natural need to blame some bookkeeper or board for what must obviously be “human error,”
at best. However, if we will learn a lesson from Jesus’ disciples, if we will realize our Lord’s power to
perform miracles has not diminished in the least, we might see our gracious God setting the stage to
perform more miracles of ministry (using our synod, not because he needs us, but because he lovingly
allows us to use our talents in his service), as he has in the past.
           Anticipating God’s gracious blessings in the coming years, we might wonder, “Where will our
Lord’s light begin to shine and continue to shine in these coming years?” “Where will unbelieving-from-
birth eyes be opened to see their Savior like this formerly blind man who is later led by Jesus to see Jesus
as the Lord of his eternal life?” Only God is able to fill in future numbers for our ministries at this point
in time. We, like disciples who rejoice when Jesus miraculously opens this man’s eyes without guessing
how many more blind eyes their Lord may open in the future, we will simply rejoice in what our Lord
has been doing without throwing darts at tomorrows detail’s as we pray, plan and faithfully work (while
it is still day) to encourage and instruct one another as we assist in “planting God’s gospel seeds and
nurturing the plants” through our home missions and missionaries.

      We Rejoice…in blessings our Lord has brought through Dan Myers’ service on our DMB
         We ask you to first take a moment to thank God for allowing us to have had Rev. Dan Myers
serving with our District Mission Board (DMB) these last twelve years. Dan’s experience as an
“outreach explorer” opening our mission in Saskatoon enabled him to competently counsel missionaries
called to open gospel ministries in other communities. Dan’s enthusiasm, insight and persistence have
been particularly used by our Lord to multiply our Canadian missions during this last decade. Dan’s term
of service coming to an end because of the “two elected terms” limit previews the fact Mr. Schlomer’s
and Pastor Seeger’s terms of service will come to an end in 2004; Mr. Halldorson’s and Pastor Schultz’s
terms of service will come to an end in 2006.
                                               DK/MT DMB Report to DKMT District Convention      page      2


         We would also like to extend our continuing gratitude for the work of our Mission Counselor,
Rev. Wayne Schulz, whose experienced advice, whose truly loving encouragement and whose dedicated
efforts bring the Lord’s blessings to our missions and missionaries (especially to our new people and
places) as well as to our DMB. While counseling our district from his base in Cottage Grove, WI, Pastor
Schulz also serves as Mission Counselor for the Minnesota, Western Wisconsin and Northern Wisconsin
districts, in addition to service he offers our entire synod through Satellite Evangelism Workshops,
through his consultations as our ‘expert’ on larger congregations ‘daughtering’ mission churches.


              We Rejoice…as Exploratory Groups develop into “Mission Status” Congregations
        In West Rapid City, SD, Pastor David Maertz and Abiding Word were granted “Mission Status”
in February, 2002. While these saints in Rapid City will continue sharing the gospel with new souls –
using innovative approaches like ‘volleyball camps’ as well as Christmas VBS and Easter VBS while
regular witnessing to friends and also knocking on their neighbors’ doors – Abiding Word is also
authorized to look for land where we may possibly build facilities for their ministry in the coming years.
         In Red Deer, AB, where God has already graciously provided a parsonage and fine church
facilities, Pastor Jonathan Were and Mighty Fortress were granted “Mission Status” in October, 2001,
allowing them to continue receiving financial support which enables them to keep contacting new souls
with the message of a Savior – including their innovative use of a “spiritual fitness combined with a
physical fitness class.”
        In Yankton/Vermillion, SD, Pastor Steve Geiger and the saints at Prince of Peace and Christ
Our Savior were granted “Mission Status” with the establishment of a Mission Program Grant Agreement
(MPGA) in the fall of 2000, enabling their efforts to touch their communities with Christ’s truth to
continue expanding.


                         We Rejoice …as Exploratory Groups continue ‘Exploring’…
        In South Calgary, AB, Pastor Peter Goetsch was led by our Lord in early 2001 to begin
gathering believers who now call themselves Tree of Life Lutheran. Our BHM recently approved
another year of subsidy for South Calgary as we explore the possibility of establishing a third
congregation in Calgary. During this summer, a “summer student assistant” from our Seminary will be
working with Pastor Goetsch as well as with Pastor Priestap at St. Paul’s in Northeast Calgary. Working
to contact souls throughout their community by attacking ‘presenting’ problems so we might receive
opportunities to address the ‘underlying’ problem of sin, our three congregations in Calgary will
cooperatively sponsor “drug awareness and counseling” seminars this spring.
         In Regina, SK, Pastor Stephen Nuss and the members of Apostles were granted another year of
subsidy last October so they could keep reaching out to new souls with the message of our Savior while
they at the same time develop spiritual leaders within their group. After being moved out of their
‘storefront’ ministry center in the mall, Apostles has found worshipping in a school to be bringing
blessings as they have become more visible to their community.


                              We Rejoice…as Missions Move to New Facilities…
        In Saskatoon, SK, Pastor Brian Pechman and his wife Angie have been moved into a new
parsonage where the Lord will soon bless them with the birth of a second child. Selling an ‘extra’ piece
of property, Abundant Life has been able to reorganize their Church Extension Fund (CEF) loan and
                                                 DK/MT DMB Report to DKMT District Convention       page      3


focus more clearly on communicating Christ’s love to their community, including a major Easter
advertising campaign.
        In Bozeman, MT, Pastor Marty Luchterhand and the members of Shining Mountains have yet
not moved, but our Lord did place a prime piece of property into their possession last fall which will
allow them to continue planning to relocate their ministry into larger facilities on a more accessible site
so they will better be able to handle souls who are coming to study truths they may have first heard
through Shining Mountain’s regular radio messages.


                            We Rejoice…as New Pastors move into ‘old’ facilities…
         In Milbank, SD, Pastor Jason Schulz was installed last summer, bringing the energy of youth
and the confidence of God’s unchanging gospel promises into his ministry at Peace while also serving the
saints in Summit.
        In Huron and Mitchell, SD, Pastor David Reichel was installed as the ‘first’ pastor of a ‘new’
dual parish formed by Faith and Ascension with the prayer it will enable them to fund a ministry focused
on outreach.
        In West Fargo, ND, Pastor Jeff Halldorson guides Shepherd of the Valley to be sharing God’s
saving truth even while he temporarily serves a Valley City vacancy our Lord is filling with Seminary
graduate Newton Trimmer. Using some final funds from our “Lift High the Cross” offering, our BHM
has approved a three-year grant for expanding our outreach ministry in Valley City when the saints of St.
Paul follow their pastor out into their community with Christ’s invitation to believe and be saved..


                We Rejoice…in our opportunities to instruct and encourage one another
        In Northeast Calgary, AB, guided by Pastor Doug Priestap, thirteen members of St. Paul’s are
involved at various points of an “Evangelist” training program offered through Martin Luther College
(MLC) in New Ulm, MN. Consulting with Rev. Al Sorum our WELS’ Multi-Cultural Mission
Counselor, St. Paul is exploring the possibilities for reaching their diverse community with Christ’s
message of life that last forever.
        All our missionaries and their wives were blessed by being able to gather with peers from across
our continent at a (once-in-a-lifetime) “Mission & Ministry in the next Millenium” conference in
Chicago during the summer of 2000, a major effort to enhance our WELS outreach efforts funded
through our “Forward In Christ” offering.
       Our District’s annual “Missionaries’ Conference” was unfortunately canceled last fall in the
wake of 9-11 travel concerns, but we are planning to meet again this September 17th/18th in Billings.
        In Billings, MT, a “mission team” intended to expand outreach at Apostles Lutheran by training
members to carry Christ’s gospel into their community has been requested and funding has already been
approved through our “Forward in Christ” offerings. Volunteers, however, have not yet stepped forward
to serve in this capacity. With a pastoral vacancy occurring at Apostles, we suspect


                         We Rejoice…in opportunities to fund outreach efforts
       Money is not as ‘available’ as the Lord made it available in previous years, yet a good number of
missions in our district were able to be given a disproportionately large percentage of the $100,000 in
“Outreach Grants” offered through our BHM budget each of these last two years.
                                                DK/MT DMB Report to DKMT District Convention       page    4


         A few upward revisions of Mission Program Grant Agreements were able to be approved in
spite of tightening finances, yet we should realize no “automatic” changes can ever be assumed.
Unfortunately, while some of our mission congregations in different degrees encounter those financial
crunches which occasionally occur as the Lord moves our members from place to place, our BHM is not
able, not was it ever designed to be able, to subsidize every ministry for indefinite periods of time. Our
goal, as always, as responsible stewards of the financial gifts God gives us, will be to place a priority on
subsidizing ministries where demonstrable outreach efforts are occurring. In all these areas where we are
actively reaching out with the gospel’s invitation to salvation, we trust our Lord will guide our mission
efforts as he leads souls in various numbers to respond by confessing Jesus as the Christ.
        Considering possible cuts in funding for our ministries if WELS costs increase more quickly than
our WELS income, our DMB worked with our BHM this spring to prioritize our entire 2003-2005
budget, as requested by our Synodical Council (SC), identifying what might first be jettisoned, if
necessary, with the least detriment to our entire gospel ministry.
         While the majority of our missions are making regular monthly payments, Church Extension
Fund (CEF) loan repayments apparently remain a challenge in a number of our missions, despite a major
effort by the CEF board to restructure all loans in line with a congregation’s income. We are particularly
pleased, however, to note a couple missions increasing their efforts to repay building funds which have
been borrowed from a CEF ‘bank’ which is built by gifts or investments from our WELS brothers. We
also anticipate increasing publicity from the CEF encouraging gifts or investments which will enable the
CEF to assist more congregations in the coming years.

                       We Rejoice…to look at better ways to disciple “all nations”
         It is good to review the way we have structured ourselves so we might use our Lord’s resources
most effectively as we attempt to teach our Savior’s truth to all creation. To this end, we would like to
avoid any possible misunderstanding as you read page 13 of the 2002 RTTTD. While our BHM, with the
Board for World Missions (BWM) did request a task force which has been labeled the “Mission
Opportunity Task Force,” this committee was originally asked to study the overlapping work of world
& home missions (such as college campuses, native reserves, etc.) so that we would not unnecessarily
reinvent wheels which were already rolling smoothly. When this first committee concluded we should
have one mission division in synod, our BHM strongly refused to support such a conclusion because no
real working plan was presented to show a projected efficiency in our mission work. We could only see
another layer of administration being needed as two different boards aimed at the same target using two
different approaches. A second committee was then asked to review all overlap of work among divisions
of synod, what I believe is being called our ‘second-level restructuring.’ This committee is offering a
report to our District Conventions this summer. It appears this committee is now not recommending one
mission division, but improved communication, a good goal at all times. We are pleased to note that
communication between our BHM and our BWM, especially through our administrators, and cooperation
in our efforts to reach all the souls our Savior has redeemed has been increasing

                          We Rejoice…in your gospel partnership and prayers
        Please, pray for our missions and missionaries! God will bless your requests. God will bless
your personal witness. Please, tell a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, tell a neighbor how Jesus was
crucified to pay our sins’ price before being raised from his grave to guarantee us God’s forgiveness!

                                           Your DK/MT DMB:
                     Mr. Jacob Halldorson, Mr. Marvin Schlomer, Mr. James Taecker,
                    Pastor Dan Myers, Pastor Jonathan Schultz, Pastor Norman Seeger,

								
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