These principles direct everything we do as a women’s ministry committee. Whether we are developing or promoting Bible studies, or organizing and promoting congregational and synodical ministries for or by women, these principles give direction to all we do:
We are determined to let the gospel predominate...<<more>>
We delight to teach all that Scripture’s principle of head and helper has to say to us....<<more>>
3) We are unafraid to apply Scripture wherever Scripture speaks, but we refuse to bind consciences beyond Scripture...<<more>>
We help God’s people to remember that we are part of a larger fellowship of believers...<<more>>
Our History and the Original Brainstorm
The WELS Women's Ministry Committee was spawned from an event that took place in June, 2002. The event, a brainstorming retreat, was a pilot project of the WELS Board for Parish Services. The "think tank" objectives were:
1) to review and reaffirm the Biblical principles of the universal priesthood of all believers and of the role of men and women in the Church,
2) to brainstorm, clarify, and prioritize ideas regarding vehicles and approaches which will foster, encourage, and enhance the personal and corporate ministry of WELS women and,
3) to craft the outline for a document that will present our recommendations to the WELS Board for Parish Services for appropriate action.
Ten WELS women from various walks of life participated in the June task force. Some of these women had full-time ministry positions or had had them at one time. Several women were working professionals, several were retired volunteers. Six WELS pastors representing the Board for Parish Services, Wisconsin Lutheran College, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and Martin Luther College also participated. The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday retreat generated a set of "Action Plans". One of the programs that resulted as a key idea from the brainstorming retreat was a Commission or Committee on Women's Ministry in the WELS.
It took a year to get the committee going; nevertheless, the think tank weekend essentially generated the committee. Initially, four women who attended the think tank were appointed to this committee. There were three men on the committee who represented the Board for Parish Services and the seminary.
Why is this ministry needed?
At the retreat the need to enhance the ministry of WELS women was expressed. All who attended felt—and also represented many other WELS brothers and sisters who feel—that there are some barriers that we in our church body must overcome in order to enhance this ministry of and to women. The task force participants felt that women in the WELS passionately seek to serve God in the Church in ways that please God and do not violate His Word. The committee's task is to fulfill the need to foster, encourage, and enhance the personal and corporate ministry of WELS women.
What types of opportunities for service and/or fellowship do are we considering?
The following are the key ideas that came out of the task force weekend in 2002:
▪ Hold a women's conference.
▪ Initiate a commission or committee on Women's Ministry (already referred to above, formed in 2003)
▪ Foster respect for WELS Christian women (to counter the real and perceived lack thereof)
▪ Identify, validate, celebrate women's (and men's) ministry
▪ Create a women's magazine.
▪ Create an environment that fosters heightened ministry among WELS women
▪ Ask the Conference of Presidents and Synodical Council to make women's issues an agenda item
▪ Offer all called workers enhanced leadership training
▪ Enhance the understanding of the Scripture's principles of the roles of men and women
▪ Enhance the understanding of the Scripture's principles of the priesthood of all believers
▪ Encourage WELS women to learn as much as possible about the Scriptures
▪ Identify and teach spiritual gifts in appropriate ways, starting young.
As you can see, the suggested action plans are ambitious! There is much to be done. But we on the committee are fully aware that women's ministry in the WELS is not dependent on our committee, by any means. There are many, many opportunities for Christian service for WELS women, and we have invited women in our synod to e-mail our committee with encouragements and successes regarding women helping and serving in their congregations so we can be a clearinghouse for these ideas. Our committee is moving fairly slowly; we want to "get it right," before initiating any major conferences or programs. By this I mean we are studying Scripture together at all of our meetings regarding men and women in ministry-service in the Kingdom. In the meantime there are lots of other programs, Bible studies, retreats, and seminars that are enhancing the ministry of WELS women throughout the United States and beyond!
Our Communication Tools:
Some communicating is taking place via the WELS website. In addition to a website for women, we envision a WELS women’s' magazine, regional and/or national conferences, and presentations. All of the women on the committee have done and continue to do retreats and presentations to spiritually serve WELS women. These events can also serve to be opportunities to share the work of the Committee and the work of other WELS women's groups throughout the synod.
In October 2008, the committee expanded to includes an Executive Committee, formed with the initial committee plus two new members, and several Sub Committees (Congregational Ministries, Publications, Conference) totaling 23 gifted women from across the nation and the two pastoral advisors. A web team was also developed after the initial meeting. Marilyn Miller was asked to serve as the Executive Team Chair.
In November 2008, the intial website www.welswomen.net was launched and continued to see development and additional resources.
In May 2009, a Theological Review team of retired Seminary professors and pastors was established to review Bible Studies being approved for our website.
July 16-18, 2010, the second National WELS Women's Leadership Conference was held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. About 231 women participated.
In July 2010, the Publications Team underwent some revisions to improve the use of resources and clarify jobs/responsibilities.
In October 2010, the Congregational Ministries Team underwent some revisions to improve communication and clarify their purpose/priorities.
In October 2012, the Executive Team met with participants of the original brainstorming team and its subsequent committee. Ten years after its inception, the two groups gathered to consider the progress being made and evaluate whether the committee had continued on the path that was orginally established. There was a spirit of unity and rejoicing as the original team marveled at the progress that had been made and the God pleasing attitude with which the work was being done. Several team were revised to address the growing needs of the committee and new members were added as the work moves forward.