Confessing Christ for the next Generation
Changing Life

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Moving from one year to the next, from 2015 to 2016, affords an opportunity to reflect both on what has happened in the past and on what our goals will be for the future. I have done that a bit in emails with the SWD staff. What follows is a snapshot of those conversations.
As we begin this New Year, 2016 this marks my 10th year as district president. Much has changed over those years. The chaplaincy at the House of Correction has been revitalized, literally hundreds have been baptized. And now we are working on securing a deaconess to serve the female population of the county jail. There are a variety of cross-cultural activities. The SOS Center has been reborn. SWD debts are paid off. Camp LUWISOMO is a stand-alone organization. SWD has a great many of its pastors and laity involved on the Synod level, representing us on a variety of major LCMS boards and commissions.
Church planting is gaining a bit of momentum, in places like Madison and Sheboygan. The Waunakee replant is moving forward and will begin divine services soon. Sunday, January 10, David Blas will be installed as an Hispanic vicar in the Sheboygan area. A new Hmong ministry is also beginning to take shape at Good Shepherd Sheboygan. Not long ago a Chinese student was baptized at Calvary Chapel by Pastor Dan Anderson. Great things are happening!
Overseas our partnership in the Dominican Republic FORO, which began as the result of a series of conversations with Earl Bleke (a friend whom I miss dearly), has surpassed everyone's dreams. Where there was only a small struggling team of missionaries in the DR, there is now a large mission group headed by Rev. Ted Krey, multiple ordained missionaries and a variety of commissioned and lay workers, two schools with more on the way, a seminary, a much respected group home in country that had never heard of such a thing, several new congregations, and indigenous workers studying to be pastors and deaconesses.
As we begin 2016 I give thanks for the members of our SWD staff, for each of you and your role in your local congregations as you help make these things a reality. I give thanks for the pastors and congregations who have been so generous in their support of all that we do together!  
Some can and do at times complain about various things, some more involved than others; and that is to be expected, after all we live in an imperfect world where even God's people and their pastors are less than perfect. What's more, increasingly we find ourselves to be outsiders to the culture in which we live, aliens in this world. All of which means it is time for us to stand together in this church where our Lord has placed us. It is time for us to be who we are; intentionally Lutheran, time for us to plant new congregations, time for us to honor our vocation as the people of God, time for us to embrace the communities in which we find ourselves.
As long as we stand on this side of eternity, such will always be the case, in every parish, with every pastor. I am reminded of Paul's words to the Philippians chapter 3:  
  • Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (verses 12-16)
Hence, as we begin 2016 we focus our energies and dreams on "Confessing Christ for the Next Generation", longing for our Lord's continued blessings.
May our gracious Lord shower His blessings on us as we "confess Christ"!
Rev. Dr. John C. Wille
President, South Wisconsin District
Calvary Chapel at UW-Madison   
Ministry at Calvary Chapel in Madison continues to be a blessing to students, including more than a few internationals and their families.
Pastor Dan Anderson recently sent me this update: "We have a much larger congregation now on the whole as we have about 90 students that consider Calvary their home church here on Campus. We had 64 for our annual Christmas service a few weeks ago. The numbers are up but more importantly, the congregation is vibrant and God is using these students to share the love of Jesus in this UW campus community. We have about 20 students serving as leaders on our Leadership Team and Board of Directors."
Click here to view a recent Calvary   newsletter. 

Dominican Republic News: 
We recently received from the Dominican Republic from the Dominican Republic a short video regarding the preschool in a community named Licey.  Several of our congregations and a goodly number of SWD people have been there for mission trips.  The school hosts 120 young children with a waiting list of 60 or so.  With the help of a matching grant from SWD somewhere in excess of $50,000.00 has been raised to build a new church and school on a piece of land which we helped purchase right next to the preschool.    Watch Video  

Creation Workshop: 
Martin Luther, the sixteenth century reformer, once lamented that we fail to see and appreciate the daily miracles of God because they are so common. That probably remains true to this day. How can we recover that sense of wonder and with it gratitude for our lives on earth? Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Watertown, WI is hosting a Creation Workshop with Concordia Seminary Professor Dr. Charles Arand. This seminar will take place on Saturday, January 23, from 9 AM to noon. There is no cost. For more information or to register, please email Jan Neitzel at or call Jan at (920) 285-0282.           See Flyer! 

Passionate Believers Conference - Jan. 30
"Caring for the Church, Caring for the Church Worker"
is the theme for the 2016 conference that will again be held at Divine Redeemer, Hartland, from 8 a.m. until     2:30 p.m.
Dr. Beverly Yahnke will be the keynote speaker on the theme for our conference. She is a clinical psychologist and Executive Co-Director for DOXOLOGY.
In addition to that there will additional breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Here are two sessions that will be offered in the afternoon:

Called Servants "Miracle Workers" and Doers of Impossible Deeds - Dr. Beverly Yahnke, DOXOLOGY 
In this sectional Dr. Yahnke will offer just the right mix of wisdom, humor, data and spiritual encouragement for those of us who are eager to support our pastors and our teachers.  Her presentation will feature reflections and insights regarding precisely what called workers require as they take on the hearty challenges of preaching, teaching and service.  Dr. Yahnke will invite listeners to enhance their current awareness regarding the challenges of church service and will suggest specific strategies that church leaders can employ to ensure that their pastors and teachers are best-equipped to continue to serve the sheep and lambs entrusted to them, all the while inviting new souls into the fold.  This breakout  is in the morning session.

Congregational Leadership in Cha
llenging Times - Rev. Dr. John C. Wille, SWD President Charles Dickens once wrote, "These are the best of time and these are the worst of times."  We live in challenging times for the church, challenging times for pastors and God's people.  Many of our congregations are in decline.  Many of our church workers suffer from a variety of maladies.  Our faith and confession are scorned by the world in which we live.  Right has become wrong; and wrong has become right.  What used to be immoral is now moral.  What do we do?  How best can we witness to this crazy culture in which we find ourselves? How can we reach those who have turned away from the church?  This breakout will discuss those questions and more.  This is breakout is in the morning session.   
Men's Retreat - Feb. 19-21, 2016:
The 16 th annual Men's Retreat will be held at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc on the weekend of February 19-21. The retreat is organized by three congregations in the South Wisconsin District: First Immanuel in Cedarburg, Our Redeemer in Wauwatosa, and Divine Redeemer in Hartland. The theme for this year's retreat is, "Life Is _________" It is based on a book with the same title, written by Judah Smith who is pastor of City Church in Seattle, Washington. His first book was "Jesus Is _______" and was the #1 best-seller of the New York Times and USA Today. In the book Pastor Smith shows men how to live life to the fullest. He also shows that God's love for us is beyond human logic and shows us the life God intends for us to live in our present day culture. He also shows us how to trust God in any situation life springs upon us and how to be at peace with God and enjoy God's presence in our daily lives.
Last year 127 men from 37 different congregations attended the retreat. Here are some comments from some of the men who attended last year's retreat: My faith was strengthened this weekend; major issues men face today were addressed; this weekend was a faith builder; outstanding breakout sessions; the weekend made me take an inventory of my spiritual life. Come to this year's retreat and learn how to live life to the fullest. If you have any questions about the retreat e-mail Jim at or phone him 414-462-5871 or cell 414-469-0100.

National LCMS Convention: 
The 65 th Convention of The Lutheran Church-Mis souri Synod will be held July 9-14, 2016, in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center.
The national convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod shall afford an opportunity for worship, nurture and inspiration, fellowship, and the communication of vital information. The convention is the principal legislative assemble, which amends the Constitution and Bylaws, considers and takes action on reports and overtures, and handles appropriate appeals. It establishes general positions and policies of the Synod, provides overall program direction and priorities, and conducts business in order to provide responsible service for and on behalf of its members.

If you would like to volunteer your time and talent at the synod convention click here.

For more information on the LCMS Synod Convention click here. 
2016 National Youth Gathering:

Held every 3 years, the LCMS Youth Gathering provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God's people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Christian faith and their Lutheran identity. During the five days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God's word, worship, service and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry in Saint Louis, Missouri.

For more information about the Gathering in 2016, visit the     Gathering website.

Concordia Apologetics Conference:  "Truth on Trial:  Science and Faith in Today's World" - March 4-5, 2016 
What is the relationship between science and the Christian faith?  Do the two contradict on another?  How do they relate to apologetics (making a defense for the faith)?  This spring, you are invited to grow in your understanding of the relationship between scientific investigation of the world and the Christian faith once delivered to the saints. 

The Concordia Apologetics Conference brings to the table some of the best minds in Christianity today, individuals who specialize in areas related to apologetics.  This year's keynote speakers are Rev. Todd Wilken, host of Issues, Etc. radio program, and Dr. Mark Kalthoff, co-author of Man and Creation:  Perspectives on Science and Theology and professor at Hillsdale, College.  The conference also includes nine breakout presenters from Concorida's science, philosophy, theology, and education faculties and from LCMS-U.  Join us to learn that science and the Christian faith are not only compatible but actually benefit one another!

For more information and registration, please visit: 

Cost of Attendance: 
Friday-Saturday: $100.00 
One-day Saturday:  $60.00 
Student Rate:  $30.00

Concordia University Wisconsin hosts a Luther Heritage Sites Germany Tour:
Here is your chance to experience the life of Martin Luther during the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation along with seeing the sights of Germany. Travel with Rev. Dr. Timothy Maschke of Concordia University Wisconsin along with a local travel guide as they share their expertise in this once in lifetime experience. This ten -day trip ($3,095 including airfare) will take place Tuesday,
May 17 through Thursday, May 26, 2016, with an option of a three -day extension. Attached you will find a brochure with the detailed itinerary and a registration form.  The commitment deadline is December 1, 2015 so airfare can booked. 
If you have any questions, you can email Rev. Dr. Maschke at or call him at 262-243-4252 or Tempo Travel at 414-774-1080.

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Rev. Dennis Schueler for continued care and keeping as he returns home battling cancer
Bonnie Meier, wife of Bruce, as she recovers from surgery
Vicar David Blas and family as they begin  work among the Hispanic community in Sheboygan 

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icy-branch-header.jpg    They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
 "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.'"
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Matt 2: 5-6, 10-11
Upcoming Events Around the D istrict


  • January 23-30, 2016:  National Lutheran Schools Week
  • January 25, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference - Fine-Tuning "Christ in Every Word":  Reflections on Psalm 8:                            by Dr. Brian German
  • January 30, 2016:  Passionate Believers Conference - Divine Redeemer Hartland ( Watch for more details!)
  • February 19-21, 2016:  Men's Retreat Holiday Inn, Manitowoc
  • February 22, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference:  Will This by on the Test? The Vocation of the Learner: by Dr. John Oberdeck
  • March 4-5, 2016:  2nd Annual Concordia Apologetics Conference - CUW, Mequon
  • March 21, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference:  The Living Voice of Micah:  by Dr. Jason Soenksen & Prof. Jason Lane
  • April 9, 2016:  Pre-Retirement Workshop-Concordia Health Plan - District office
  • April 11-13, 2016:  Spring Pastors Conference - Best Western, Oshkosh
  • April 25, 2016:  CUW Pastor Conference:  The Womb to the Tomb:  Growing in Christian Maturity: by Dr. Harald Tomesch
  • July 9-14, 2016:  Synod Convention, Milwaukee
  • July 16-20, 2016:  National Youth Gathering - New Orleans, Louisiana
Pastor Calls and Vacancies
Calling Congregations
  • Messiah - Beloit
  • First Immanuel - Cedarburg
  • Risen Savior - Franklin
  • St. Paul - Grafton
  • St. John - Mayville
  • Hope - Milwaukee
  • Oklahoma Ave. - Milwaukee
  • Immanual & St. Stephen - Random Lake/Batavia
  • St. Paul - Sheboygan Falls
  • Bethlehem - Wales
  • Our Redeemer - Wauwatosa
  • Pilgrim - Wauwatosa

Pastors Accepting a Call

  • Timothy Ritter - Immanuel, Wisconsin Rapids to Our Redeemer, Delevan
Contact Information

President John C. Wille
Karen Rayner