On Saturday morning, Oct. 5, the annual Friends of the Seminary Day was held in the seminary’s auditorium. This event highlights the way gifts to WLS help support the worldwide mission of WELS. Through worship and presentations, participants see how they are a vital part of the kingdom work that takes place at the seminary.
Guests were both long-time attendees as well as new friends. Michelle Neuman, a member at St. Peter, Fond du Lac, shared, “I had seen the seminary on the WELS Connection, but had never been here. So I thought I should come see it in person. It’s beautiful.”
The family of Robert Beaver, a junior at the seminary, also attended for the first time to learn more about the seminary. His sister Rachel; mom, Lisa; and Grandma Sherry were all grateful for the morning. “We are so glad we came. Hearing about the experiences of the seminary students was so interesting,” they said.
Pat Hepner and her daughter, Chris Himm, also attended. Pat’s husband, Ron, worked on the grounds crew for about 20 years. For Pat, Friends of the Seminary Day is a tradition. “I was part of the auxiliary early on—before this building was built,” she said. (The auditorium was built in 1985.) Years ago, Chris spent one summer working on the campus alongside her dad. So, for both, this is also a chance to catch up with friends.
During the opening worship, Professor Steven Pagels, who was installed this fall, preached the sermon based on Matthew 5:14-16. He reminded everyone, “You are the light of the world. It’s not a question: will you be the light of the world? Or a command: Be the light of the world! Or a pious wish: I hope that one day you might become the light of the world. Jesus states it as a fact.”
Then the 111 attendees listened as Professor E. Allen Sorum shared photos and stories of Pastoral Studies Institute students and spiritual leaders in Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia. He highlighted the strategic partnership between the PSI program, the overseas mission work of WELS, and the worldwide fields of Christians. Through these partnerships, we are helping train spiritual leaders, who are the hands and feet of Jesus. “Africans are teaching Africans how to be confessional Lutheran Christians,” he shared. “In Vietnam, we have 700 pastors leading 120,000 Christians.”
Another PSI Team member, Professor Bradley Wordell then shared how PSI work isn’t only located worldwide, but also closer to home—throughout North America.
Seminary senior Paul Bourman discussed his experiences during vicar year in Falls Church, Virginia. Bourman, the youngest of seven children, was encouraged to be part of the ministry from an early age. He spent two months with his brother who works with a mission church in South Carolina. Another brother is doing Spanish-speaking ministry in Queens. This family history and support served him well as he shared stories about the blessings and challenges of living, working, and sharing the gospel in the diversity and busyness of the Washington D.C. metro area.
In addition to presentations, the Auxiliary collected an offering of $1,685 which is combined with other gifts throughout the year. These donations allow the Friends of the Seminary to provide wish list items to the students and staff. This year’s gift will provide and ADA drinking fountain with bottle filling station in the dorm commons, upholstered chairs for the main entrance, coats racks, and a paper trimmer.
Next year’s Friends of the Seminary Day will be Oct. 3, 2020. It is open to all—men, women, young, and old. Plan now to join us.