OWLS Senior Convention

The Lutheran Convention for Seniors 2021

We Will Tell the Next Generation the Praiseworthy Deeds of the Lord

After not being able to meet in person last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Organization of WELS Lutheran Seniors (OWLS) was thrilled to gather at Martin Luther College (MLC) and the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in New Ulm, Minn., on Oct. 19–22 for its annual convention.

The convention revolved around the theme “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,” with particular emphasis on the 25th anniversary of the formation of Martin Luther College (1995-2020).

Early arrivals to the convention could…

Read more about the convention in Together.

The 2022 OWLS Convention for Seniors will be held at Stoney Creek Hotel and Convention Center in Onalaska, Wisconsin, on October 11-13,2022. The theme will be “There is a River” (Psalm 46).

Guidelines for Prison Ministry Projects and Donations

Individuals and groups can do much to support our sharing of Jesus with people impacted by incarceration. The resources found here give guidelines for ways to support and provide materials for this gospel outreach.

Resource Descriptions

  • Prison Mission Projects –WELS Prison Ministry operates because God’s people pray for us, volunteer their time, and give generously from their worldly treasure. Only 10 percent of our funding is provided from the WELS regular budget. Follow these guidelines to support the spread of God’s Word to hurting souls as an individual or a group.
  • Guidelines for Meditation donations – WELS Prison ministry redistributes gently used (less than one year old) Mediations, Time of Grace, and other devotional booklets. Please follow these guidelines.
  • Guidelines for cards, artwork, school projects. Inmates LOVE receiving encouragement from their younger brothers and sisters in Christ. Many have been abandoned by their families and have little if any contact with anyone, let alone children. These guidelines lay out ways anyone, including children, can share the love of Jesus.

Prison Ministry – Supplemental Printed Resources

In addition to our correspondence course material, WELS Prison Ministry offers a variety of additional resources that we offer free of charge to inmates and chaplains. Descriptions can be found in the document list below. Download sample portions of the documents from the package using the links below. Order copies of the supplemental material using the order form below.

Resource Descriptions

  • Scripture passages and prayer –Bible verses and prayers arranged by topics that apply to people affected by incarceration and other life crises. The downloadable sample is the chapter on forgiveness.
  • Facing Freedom – A wealth of spiritual and practical reminders and encouragement for soon to be released or released inmates. The downloadable sample is the chapter on decision making.
  • New Testament in Everyday American English. This translation of the original Greek text into everyday American English has been very popular among inmates and chaplains. The downloadable sample is John Chapter 3.
  • Water of Life Printed Bible Studies – A series of 30 Bible studies (6 modules of 5 lessons each) intended for recently released inmates (either individually or as a group) with a mentor or spiritually mature leader. Includes both participant sheets and leader guides printed together in a spiral bound notebook. Samples are available in the Ministry to the Released section.
  • La Promesa – A Summary of God’s Plan of Salvation in Spanish. The downloadable sample is “La Promesa – Tú tienes la paz” (The Promise – You Have Peace).

Use the order form to order printed copies of the Bible courses and other resources.


 

Prison Ministry – Newsletters

Learn more about Prison Ministry work and how it is making a difference in the lives of inmates.

Prison Ministry – Printed Material Order Form

A complete list of Bible Teaching Series Bible studies and resources can be found on the order form below.  All of the Bible studies were designed for use in jails and prisons.  They require no instructor; a student can complete a course working independently.  At the end of each Bible study is a test that can be mailed to WELS Prison Ministry.  Volunteers will go over the test and give the prisoner feedback on his answers, and WELS Prison Ministry will send the next course in the series.

Bible study samples are available for preview here.


For more information, contact Prison Ministries.

WELS PRISON MINISTRY
PO Box 452
New Ulm, MN 56073
prisonministry@wels.net
Telephone: 507-354-3130
Fax: 507-354-3219

Love in Action

WELS Special Ministries
Showing God’s love to those with special needs or in special circumstances

In these pages, you’ll learn about the eight areas of WELS Special Ministries:

  • Visually Impaired
  • Care for Called Workers
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Mental Health
  • Health and Wellness
  • Prison Ministry
  • Military Services

Funding for the programs you’ll learn about in these pages comes from people like you, who have a heart to share Christ’s love with those who may face hurdles in worship and in life. Our special ministries are primarily supported by special offerings from individuals and groups.

 

To order FREE copies of the Love in Action booklet, e-mail WELS Special Ministries at specialministries@wels.net.

Ministry to the Aging Bible Study

The four lesson Ministry to the Aging Bible Study series can be used to start a congregational ministry to shut ins or to revitalize church members who are carrying out ministry to the aging.

MDHH – Parent and Teacher Resources

Parent/Teacher resources include:

  • A list of available Bible story picture books
  • Jesus Loves the Little Children coloring book. (Free upon request)
  • Numerous sign language activity ideas can be found at teacherspayteachers.com.

MDHH – Interpreter Resources

Resources for interpreters include:

More signs for hymns and liturgy from Christian Worship are available here.

Find sign suggestions for additional hymns.

Sign to the Lord a New Song, a dictionary of religious signs, is available from Northwestern Publishing House.

MDHH – Contemporary Hymns Glossed

Includes sign suggestions for several contemporary hymns.

MDHH – Hymns from Christian Worship Glossed

Includes sign suggestions for various hymns from Christian Worship.

MDHH – Resources for Congregations

Find useful articles for congregations regarding visual aids, sound systems, interpreters, and confirmation classes for the deaf and hard of hearing.

For even more help, see the module Ministering to People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing on the Congregational Services website.

More resources are available for interpreters, parents, and teachers.

The Association of WELS Chaplains

The Association of WELS Chaplains conference

Feb. 2, 2018

Theme: Chaplains’ Care for Souls of Other Cultures


Date: Friday, February 2, 2018

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Schoenstatt Conference Center
W284 N698 Cherry Lane, Waukesha, Wis.

Cost: $75 (includes lunch and snacks)

The Bread of Life – Selected Bible Stories

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – Women of the Bible

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – The Ten Commandments

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – The Sermon on the Mount

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – Selected Psalms

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – People of the Bible

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – Parables

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – Life Skills

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – Prayer

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – The Christian Church Year

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

The Bread of Life – The Christian Life

The following studies are from the Bread of Life Bible Studies series, which was created by WELS Prison Ministries. More studies from the Bread of Life series, along with background information, are available. Learn more.

 

Chaplains

Resources for chaplains include:

  • WELS Chaplains Code of Ethics
  • Great Physician brochures

Also view the booklet A Pastor Looks at PTSD under “Ministry to the Military resources.

Martin Luther College offers courses for Chaplain Certification. Find course information and forms on the MLC website.

Prison Ministry Self-Study Courses

A complete list of Prison Ministry Self-Study Bible Correspondence Course descriptions can be found in the document list below. All of the Bible courses were designed for use in jails and prisons. They require no instructor; a student can complete a course working independently. At the end of each Bible course is a test that can be mailed to WELS Prison Ministry. Volunteers will go over the test and give the prisoner feedback on his answers, and WELS Prison Ministry will send the next course in the series.

The Bible courses are published in two levels: Level 1 Bible course booklets will be mailed for at no charge to any prisoner or inmate and are available without charge to prison chaplains. Level 2 books are only distributed directly to inmates, though chaplains and others may order single copies for review and personal ministry uses. Order copies of the Bible course booklets or books. Find the order form here.

Sample portions of Level 1 courses—Dealing with Depression and Anxiety, The Death and Rising of Jesus Christ, Overcoming the Guilt of Sin, and Jesus is Lord, Addiction is Not—can be downloaded to give you an idea of the format of these books. We have included a sample portion of the Level 2 course The Lord Cares for Me—a study of Psalm 23 taught in narrative style. All samples are copyright by WELS Special Ministries and may not be published or sold without the expressed, written permission of WELS Special Ministries.

The Self-Study Bible Correspondence Courses were designed for use in jails and prisons; however, you will discover that with a few adaptations, they may also be used in other situations. Churches or individuals interested in purchasing Level 1 or Level 2 booklets for use outside of correctional facilities may purchase them from Northwestern Publishing House’s Bible Teaching Series.

Looking for more Bible study options with inmates? Try the downloadable Bread of Life Bible Studies.


For more information, contact Prison Ministries.

WELS PRISON MINISTRY
PO Box 452
New Ulm, MN 56073
prisonministry@wels.net

Telephone: 507-354-3130

Use the order form to order printed copies of the Bible courses and other resources.

 

Ministry to the Released

When someone who was incarcerated returns to the community, it’s hard to overcome the many challenges of starting over. Prison Ministry has created a training course, “Mentoring a Returning Citizen” which provides excellent information and guidance for church members who have a desire to help someone rebuild their life after they’ve been set free.

Below are resources to assist in ministering to those released from prison. More resources, including Recovery Bible studies and a life skills course called “Facing Freedom,” can be found on the Institutional Ministries (IM) website.

Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Offenders – These guidelines give thoughtful guidance for congregations who want to keep members safe, obey the laws and rules that govern probation, and minister with Word and Sacrament to people convicted of sexual offenses.

Water of Life – View the list of modules and lessons, as well as two sample teacher guides and student lessons from the Water of Life Bible study.

Military Occasions and National Holiday Resources

An Introduction to the Military Ministry Prayers and Liturgies

Busy pastors have sometimes asked WELS Military Services if some ready resources of prayers and orders of service related to our nation and our Armed Forces could be prepared. In this folder you find our beginning answer to that request.

What you find offered here are our suggestions and ideas. You can improve on them. Perhaps in these files you may find some idea starters. On other occasions, when you look at your schedule, you may decide to use some of this work just the way it is. If you discover some typos, or have suggestions on how we might improve a work—or a suggestion for another topic, please let us know.

If you have prepared something that you think others may benefit from using, please submit it to us.

May the Lord richly bless your efforts to serve him by serving his people!

Paul C. Ziemer
National Civilian Chaplain to the Military
Armed Forces Liaison of WELS Military Services
paul.ziemer@wels.net

Eldercare

Helping Frail Elderly in the Pew – This brochure lists some obstacles and suggests how to help frail members so they can be served in the public service until they can no longer leave home.

Aging Bible Studies – Devotions and Bible reference for use in ministry to the aging. Download Bible studies

Organization of WELS Lutheran Seniors

2017 OWLS Annual Convention

Oct. 9-12, 2017
Country Springs Hotel, Pewaukee, Wis.
“Filled with the Gospel.”


Pastor Aaron Christie will tell OWLS about Luther and his music, former WELS chaplain Pastor Josh Martin and his wife will talk about the joys of their life and serving the European civilian chaplaincy in Germany, seminary Professor Bradley Wordel will tell of the work being done in our Japanese mission field.  Pastor Tony Schultz will fill hearts with the joy of sharing Jesus with young and old.

Early arrivals at the convention can enjoy Monday morning’s tours of historic WELS churches in the Milwaukee area as well as tour the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry.

Workshops will offer OWLS a wide variety of topics, including guidance on writing your life story, information about puppet ministry, little known facts about US presidents and their wives, the international student program at MLC, or meet with a WELS member who serves as a representative in the Wisconsin Assembly, Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt.

The Organization of WELS Seniors (OWLS) convention is open to all WELS / ELS members who are retired and / or over the age of 50. Among the special guests this year, former WELS Civilian Chaplain in Europe, Pastor Josh Martin and his wife Katie will be present. The OWLS have been major funders of the WELS European Civilian Chaplaincy, and this year’s convention features a silent auction with proceeds designated for that cause. The hotel complex provides a complimentary indoor water park for attendees. With plenty of time to make new friends and connect with friends from the past, the Pewaukee Convention promises to be a relaxing and enjoyable opportunity for seniors.

Registration materials are available below.  If you’ve attended previous conventions, a mailing has been sent to you.

Questions? E-mail the Convention Coordinator, Werner Lemke, at wandjlemke@msn.com.


The 2016 OWLS convention was held in October in Omaha, Nebraska. Learn more here.

Read here to find out more about the OWLS organization.

Care Committee for Called Workers (CCCW)

The resources on this page will be useful for starting a congregational Care Committee for Called Workers (CCCW) and for building loving, caring relationships with your called workers and their families. A detailed overview of the work of a Care Committee for Called Workers, called the “CCCW Quick Start” can be downloaded below.

The “Care to Care Manual” and video explain the work and provide sample questions to use in interviews with called workers. Three kinds of interviews are included: when a new called worker arrives, when the called worker is interviewed annually, and when the called worker transitions to a new call or to retirement. View the video here.  A DVD of this video can be ordered from Special Ministries.

“Care to Plan” materials provide CCCW teams with resources to encourage called workers to prepare for retirement, or at least be informed about the resources available to them. “Care to Plan for Called Worker Retirement” will help the CCCW team, or another appropriate group, prepare to discuss retirement resources available to called workers. “Retirement Guide” is a resource that the CCCW can give called workers to inform them about the resources.

Mental Health Needs

Informational brochures for dealing with mental health issues.

  • Ask a Therapist – This flyer gives you important questions to ask counselors when you seek counseling and don’t have access to WELS counselors.
  • Christian or Non-Christian Counselor – This flyer outlines potential concerns when a counselor is not a Christian, or is a Christian but not of your faith.
  • Mental Health Issues – This flyer will guide you when you believe you might need counseling for mental health issues.
  • Therapy Models – This pamphlet helps you sort out psychological terms and distinguish between different counseling processes.
  • When to Refer – This flyer is written to help pastors determine when a member is in need of other forms of counseling in addition to the spiritual counseling he offers.

The WELS/ELS Christian Therapists Network provides a network for professionally-trained therapists in fellowship with the WELS or ELS to enhance the delivery of Bible-based, Christ-centered therapy. It is a referral source for WELS/ELS congregations and called workers, and the Network helps Christians find professionally-trained, Christian therapists in their area.

Another resource for WELS called workers and their families, and for members of WELS churches, is Christ-centered counseling through WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions. WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions provides an array of counseling services including outpatient, intensive outpatient, day treatment programs, and psychiatry. Their services are available in person or through a secure video connection (telehealth) in some states. Their Member Assistance Program (MAP) is also available for congregations and schools that wish to cover the costs of counseling services for their members. Other program services include online support groups and support group facilitation.

Responding to the Spiritual Impact of Child Abuse- Freedom for the Captives is a WELS Special Ministries taskforce that provides resources for survivors of child sexual abuse, and for churches and their leaders who desire to minister faithfully when cases of such abuse become known.  A wide variety of resources can be found on the Freedom for the Captives website, freedomforcaptives.com.  Responding to the Spiritual Impact of Child Abuse makes clear the need for such resources.  It can be printed out for presentations or sharing with individuals to make them aware of the need for Christians to respond in a godly manner, and to introduce them to the website. Free online abuse prevention training, called “Standing Up for Children,” is now available at welscongregationalservices.net/abuse-prevention/

Conquerors through Christ-  Conquerors through Christ (CtC) is a WELS Special Ministries taskforce to help Christians deal with the temptations and devastation caused by Internet pornography.  A wide variety of resources and videos can be found on the CtC website, conquerorsthroughchrist.net.  This brochure can be printed to share with groups or to help someone find the resources and support they need to deal with this problem.

reading braille

Visually Impaired

WELS Mission for the Visually Impaired provides Christian spiritual materials in braille, large print and audio formats. People who are visually impaired or print impaired can also access Christian books and periodicals on the WELS Listen Library. The Listen Library and other MVI resources are available only to people who cannot read print materials because of vision impairment or reading disability. Learn about ministering to people who are blind or visually impaired  or download the catalogs of materials available for borrowing through MVI or the Listen Library.

Parish Nurses

Resources to help a congregation develop a strong Lutheran parish nurse program that functions in harmony with the pastor and other leaders and is a blessing to members.

Resources include:

  • Parish Nurse Guidelines
  • A Word to Pastors about Parish Nursing
  • Rite of Installation – Parish Nursing
  • Parish Nursing Blood Pressure Ministry

Find more resources on the WELS Nurses Association website.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Resources for ministry to those with Special Education needs.

Confirming and Communing those with Special Needs: Examine the first page of a resource that provides guidance on the process of instructing a person who has developmental disabilities with the goal of preparing them to receive communion. The full document is available from Jesus Cares Ministries National Director, Pastor Joel Gaertner jpgaertner@tlha.org

Your Piece of the Autism Puzzle: Read the paper by Pastor Thomas Gumm to learn about working with members that have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“He Cares, We Care” Mailing program: Many Christians who have developmental disabilities appreciate receiving letters and cards in the mail.  Use our online referral to enroll your loved one in a ministry-by-mail program which provides Christ-centered, simplified messages for those who are developmentally disabled.

What I Want and Need for My Child: Read a letter describing what parents want from a service provider here.

Guidelines for Establishing a Special Needs Parents Network: Learn about setting up a support network for parents of special needs children.

 


Mission for the deaf and hard of hearing

Resources to help those who are deaf and hard of hearing worship and spread the word.

  • View a PowerPoint presentation (available below) sharing “10 Things to Know About Ministry to People with Hearing Loss.”
  • Read the introduction to By Grace Alone, an adult instruction manual. Please contact the Special Ministries office, 414-256-3241 for your copy.
  • Learn about hearing loops with the brochure “Understanding Hearing Loops.” Watch a video demonstrating the difference a loop can make.
  • Find lists of WELS churches serving the deaf and hard of hearing with sound induction loops and signed services in the online yearbook.
  • Learn how MDHH is here for YOU.

OLD – Prison Ministry Bible Studies

Topical Bible studies are downloadable as PDFs for personal use. They were designed for use in jails and prisons; however, you will discover that, with a few adaptations, they may also be used in other situations. All Prison Ministry Bible studies posted here are copyrighted by WELS Special Ministries. They may be reproduced for individual and class use but may not to be published or sold without the expressed, written permission of WELS Special Ministries.

Level 1 Bible Teaching Series course booklets will be mailed for at no charge to any prisoner or inmate.  Churches or individuals interested in purchasing Bible Teaching Series booklets for use outside of correctional facilities may purchase them from Northwestern Publishing House.

An order form to request the study materials is available here.

General Church Resources

All Special Ministries resources are church resources, but Establishing a Special Ministries Committee helps a congregation find which of its resources might best serve members of the congregation and people in the community.  We also recommend that congregations download Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Offenders and Care to Care materials for supporting the ministry of called workers.

2015 OWLS Convention

Find information on the upcoming convention including: registration, workshops, speakers, agenda, and conference tours.

Prison Ministry Brochures

This package contains brochures that can be used to promote various aspects of Prison Ministry.  The general brochure gives people an overview of the ministry. The training brochure describes how laypeople or called workers can be prepared for ministry either to the currently or formerly incarcerated. Some laypeople or called workers may wish to explore the chaplain certification program through Martin Luther College, which provides more in depth training for ministry ion jails, prisons, and other settings.

Ministry to the Military Resources

Resources for promoting or carrying out ministry to military personnel.

Resources include:

  • “A Pastor Looks at PTSD”
  • GOODnewsletter
  • “Spiritual  Implications for PTSD and TBI”
  • Military Mission Projects
  • Military Referral Poster
  • For the WELS Service Member: How to have religious services on base
  • For the WELS Service Member: How to share your faith in the military
  • For the Military Contact Pastor: Providing services on a military installation
  • For WELS Congregations: Ministering to those who serve

Find other available military resources at the following links:

Military Services brochures are available upon request. Simply email your name, address, and the quantity desired to SpecialMinistries@wels.net.


His Hands newsletter

Special Ministries offers spiritual and practical guidance and training to congregations and individuals as they share God’s love to those with special needs or in special circumstances. Download and read the “His Hands” newsletter.

You can subscribe to have the Special Ministries His Hands newsletter delivered right to your inbox! Don’t miss the news and inspiring stories from these special ministries.

 

WELS Nurses Resources

Download important resources from a collection of WELS Nurses Association materials.

If your congregation is interested in developing a strong Lutheran parish nurse program see our Parish Nursing Resources.