The annual fall symposium at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary was held on the seminary campus on September 17-18, 2012..
A Symposium on Brotherly Admonition
There were 406 participants – consisting of WELS pastors, presenters, students, professors, vicars and emeriti – who gathered in the in the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS) auditorium September 17-18. The theme for this year’s symposium was on brotherly admonition in the congregation and among pastors.
Video recordings of the symposium presentations and festival service are now available at the bottom of this page. Digital copies of the essays and the service bulletin are also available for downloading below. A full description of the 2012 Symposium’s focus follows:
Monday, September 17
Pastor John Koelpin of Calvary Lutheran Church in Dallas, Tex. presented the first paper on Brotherly Admonition in the Congregation: God’s Seeking Grace. Then, Professor Bill Tackmier delivered a reaction to the essay, which was followed up with questions and clarification sought by seminary participants. “If we’re going to approach this issue merely with an attitude that says, ‘We need to clean house,’ we in the church will soon experience a great divide like the one we hear about daily in the news,” he said. “We were that one lost sheep that the Shepherd abandoned the ninety –nine in order to pursue. He sought us out and brought us back. So we go in pursuit of our straying brother.”
Pastor Earle Treptow presented the second paper on Brotherly Admonition in the Ministerium. Then, Pastor Professor Forrest Bivens delivered a reaction to the essay, and participants asked their questions. The evening continued with an afterglow, which provided an opportunity for pastor-guests and professors to mingle with seminary students.
Tuesday, September 18
Pastor Joel Heckendorf set the tone with his sermon on Brothers: Admonish in Step with the Spirit during symposium worship.
Professor James Huebner presented the third and final paper on Brotherly Admonition that Encourages Accountability. Then, Professor E. Allen Sorum delivered a reaction to the essay, “God wants us to manage what he has given us to carry out his mission,” he said. “Our stewardship is imperfect, but God’s grace is not.” It is important for pastors to set growth goals not only in the stewardship of knowledge and ministry skills, but also in their spiritual and physical health. God called pastors to their positions through the church, and this truth can be burdensome. Statistics show that 40-80% of North American seminary graduates will leave the public ministry in their first five years of service. Statistics in our own synod show the loss to be about one in four. “Studies consistently find that 70% of pastors describe themselves as depressed,” he said. “[This can lead to] extremely dangerous self-medicating schemes. Clearly, we need each other.”
President Wendland closed the symposium with some final thoughts and a prayer. One student gave his reaction to the symposium: “It was very encouraging to know that there are brothers you can go to when you’re facing spiritual and psychological problems who will encourage you with the Gospel,” Andrew Buschkopf, a junior, said. “As brothers we get to share God's Word with each other to strengthen our faith in our Savior and build up the church. It's comforting to know that whether you’re a junior in the seminary or have been in the ministry for 20 years, it is not in ourselves that we find worth, but our confidence and worth and hope are given to us in the forgiveness through Christ. This is what our ministry is built upon.”