Passionate Believers....Confessing Christ
Changing Life
April  2014

Dear brothers and sisters in the faith:

The Lenten hymn: "Christ, the Life of all the living", has been a favorite for many generations of believers. It is one of my favorites. We sing it at least a couple of times during every Lenten season. Most of the time we sing the words of hymns like this, but don't know who wrote them or where they come from. Sometimes it's good to know a little about the author and his life. That can add more meaning to the words. Sometimes our hymns are written by authors who make their living writing hymns. At other times our hymns are born amidst tragedy and the struggle to be faithful to our Lord. And that is most definitely the case here.

The hymn was written by a man named Ernst Homburg. He lived from 1605-1681. Yet we still sing, and we still love the words of this hymn. Perhaps at least part of the reason why that is the case is that these words were written by a man who not only was a believer, but who had experienced the dark side of life. Early on in his life Homburg was known exclusively for his love songs and his drinking songs. But when illness struck down both Homburg and his wife, drinking songs brought him no comfort and no peace. They were just words on a sheet of paper. The only thing that brought Homburg comfort is our Lord Jesus. Homburg himself tells us why he turned to writing hymns instead of drinking songs. He writes, "I have been especially prompted to do this by reason of the heavy cross with which my good and faithful Lord has visited me. During all this time I have found my best comfort and strength in the Word of God."  It's a powerful confession of faith.

Struggling with pain and sickness, measuring those with what our Lord tells us in His Word, Homburg came to understand what a precious Savior we sinners have.If you have ever struggled with such wages, you know the beauty of the faith which Homburg confesses when he writes, "You have suffered great affliction And have borne it patiently, Even death by crucifixion; Fully to atone for me; For you chose to be tormented, That my doom should be prevented." Our Lord Jesus is standing here before Caiaphas for Caiaphas and his sins. Jesus is standing here before Caiaphas for us and for our sins. Jesus is here because the wages of our sin is death. Jesus has taken our sin and our death upon himself, so that we wouldn't have to stand where he stands.

  I am reminded of something I recently read from a sermon by Martin Luther: "If you believe that God steps in for you and stakes all he has and his blood for you, as if he were saying: Fall in behind me without fear or delay, and then let us see what can harm you; come devil, death, sin, and hell, and all creation, I shall go before you, for I will be your rear guard and your vanguard [Isa. 52:12]; trust me and boldly rely upon me. He who believes that can not be harmed by devil, hell, sin, or death; if God fights for him, what can you do to him?" [volume 53, page 93]>No wonder every verse of the hymn ends: "Thousand, thousand thanks are due, Dearest Jesus unto you."


May our gracious Lord bless you during this precious season of Lent!
Rev. Dr. John C. Wille ______________________________________________________________________________________________


Good News from Calvary Lutheran Chapel Madison!

On Wednesday evening, March 26, Pastor Jason Zobel who oversees the ministry at Calvary Lutheran Chapel Madison baptized one of the international students, a young man from China. 


We rejoice and give thanks to our Lord who has blessed Calvary Lutheran with this special gift!


We give thanks also for those who serve at Calvary Lutheran: Pastor Jason Zobel who serves as senior pastor at Mount Olive and at Calvary Lutheran, Dan Anderson who serves as an SMP vicar at both Calvary and Mount Olive, and Judy Tang who coordinates our Lutheran outreach to the international students.  Well done!!


Students from Elm Grove Lutheran Headed to the National History Bee!

To quote the message from Pastor Skovgaard: "Our three Chinese upper school students are going on to the National History bee in Atlanta!! ... Brilliant!!"


Along with God's people at EGL we give thanks that our Lord has so blessed us not only with good educators, but also with very good students, as well as a cross-cultural reality. What blessings we have!!



A Word from President Harrison about the Body of Christ.

"We're a body, a fellowship, and in Christ we love and care for one another. Please love and care for, speak well of, speak to and be an advocate for our DCEs, teachers and all the other church workers who are such a great blessing to us," says the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Watch this video to church workers and the congregations and organizations that employ them to be encouraged by the words of Martin Luther and 1 Corinthian.


Effective July 1, 2014

 As workers and employers enrolled in the Concordia Retirement Plan are aware, there are some major changes coming to the Concordia Retirement Plan effective July 1, 2014. For some workers, this has meant looking more deeply into the changes in order to determine if they might wish to retire by June 30, 2014, in order to lock in certain benefits before the changes take place. Although the changes in the plans have been implemented in a way to have no effect on current retirees and little effect on those nearing retirement, there are two specific benefits that will be impacted by the chosen date of retirement that we want all workers nearing retirement to be aware of:

  1. Death Benefit. Currently (and for all workers that retire before July 1, 2014), the retirement plan provides a death benefit payment of $10,000 for each retired member and $10,000 for an enrolled dependent spouse or child (up to $20,000 in benefits). The member and spouse post-retirement death benefit for active workers who retire after June 30, 2014, will no longer be available, except to grandfathered workers. A benefit of $10,000, payable only once per worker and spouse (after the death of the first to die), will be provided for active workers who are age 55 or older with at least five years of service as of July 1, 2014 (grandfathered workers). 
  2. Monthly annuity payments from your SRA and RMS will be calculated using market-based rates. Some soon-to-be retirees have noted that this change is much more dramatic than it first appears in print. The Supplemental Retirement Account and Retiree Medical Supplement, when annuitized for retirees after June 30, 2014, will no longer use a fixed annuity rate of 8%, but rather a market-based rate which will be significantly lower. One retiree has indicated the calculations provided by Concordia Plan Services indicate a 30% reduction to the calculated monthly benefits when retirement takes place after June 30, 2014. Please note this change only relates to these benefits, and not the Primary Retirement Benefit (PRB). Retirees that choose lump sum or rollover options will not be affected by the change to market-based rates,as they take the investment return and risk upon themselves. Regardless of retirement dates, retirees have the option to take a lump sum distribution of their SRA accounts. Individuals who retire after June 30, 2014 will also be able to take the RMS in a lump sum distribution.


Each individual nearing retirement should look at his or her personal situation and seek independent advice as he/she weighs the benefits of retirement by or after June 30, 2014.

The benefits of working additional months or years may outweigh the changes listed above once additional salary, increased PRB due to additional months of service, health insurance benefits, etc. are considered. To inquire about your specific benefits, please contact Concordia Plan Services at 888.927.7526 or go to:  


Calling all Lutheran Church Worker Couples!

If you are thinking, 'Wait - I've seen this email recently!' You're correct! 
Here's what you don't know - of the 54 available spots, we have set aside 32 specifically for couples from North or South Wisconsin!  So far, only 2 of the 32 spots have been taken but three couples from other districts have already registered as well. If you want to attend this retreat - Here's your chance! 
Last year, this retreat filled in just 2 weeks! 

Don't delay - register today!
Grace Place, in coordination with the North and South Wisconsin Districts, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Heartwood Retreat Center with additional underwriting from The LCMS Office of National Mission, is announcing a wonderful opportunity for Lutheran Church Worker Couples to Be Well and Serve Well:
Lutheran Church Worker Couple's 

Grace Place Retreat

June 9-13, 2014
Heartwood Retreat Center
Trego, Wisconsin


This Monday afternoon to Friday noon continuing education event focuses on skills and attitudes to keep 

you healthy in body, mind, spirit and finances 

  It is anchored around four "pause points" to be in God's Word each day, daily exercise, adventure activities and free time each afternoon, and wonderful, nutritious food and fellowship.


Leaders include Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman, Grace Place Director of Programs, 
and Rev. Dr. Todd and Heather Biermann, Senior Pastor, Faith Lutheran in Gran Blanc, MI. 

Each participant and each participant's congregation receives $50 for participation in this retreat if a member of Concordia Plan Services.

To enroll in the Be Well, Serve Well Program, Click here

             Cost:  $250 per couple                      

       For more information and to register, Click here  

Mission & Ministry News


POBLO Volunteers needed!   

Three POBLO outreach locations in South Wisconsin are seeking volunteers to help teach English and Sewing classes.  The locations are Brookfield Lutheran Church (English class), Bethany Lutheran Church, Milwaukee (English class) 
 and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Milwaukee (Sewing class).
Specific training to teach English and cross cultural outreach will be provided by
Janet Wilgus and Rev. Gary Rohwer of POBLO. No previous experience is required for English. Basic experience with machine sewing of simple items is all that is required for the sewing classes. Morning, afternoon and evening are possible times for English. Sewing classes will be held mornings. Please contact Priya Manuel at , or 262-527-8385 to express your interest. Training sessions will be scheduled after feedback is received.



Lutheran Hour Ministries Opportunities  

 Men's NetWork WORK DAY is Saturday, April 26 

 Looking to make a difference in people's lives? If so, then Saturday, April 26, is the day for you! That's when the Men's NetWork will see guys from around the country rolling up their sleeves and lending their brawn and brains to better their local communities and neighborhoods.  Follow this link to read all of the details: Mens Network:

Lutheran Hour Ministries Outreach Conference 
Lutheran Hour Ministries has become a wonderful resource in so many areas of ministry, but their calling is still focused on reaching out to a dying world. They are hosting an outreach conference in Detroit from July 24-27 this Summer. I'm going, and would love to have an SWD contingency there. If you're going, or are interested in going, let me know. We may even be able to get a group rate.

Here is the link to the conference information: Lutheran Hour Ministries Outreach Conference  



African Mission Auction    

Trinity-Freistadt Lutheran Church is hosting its 5th annual "Christ for Africa: A Mission Auction" on Saturday, April 26

from 6 to 9:30 p.m. This event has raised more than $187,000 since its inception for ministry in Africa and among Africans. Funds have benefited our sister seminaries in Togo and South Africa. Missionaries have been supported, and mission teams sent. Mosquito nets have been distributed, wells have been dug, and food and clothing have been provided for an orphanage. We've also helped Pastor Kasongo Gui Kabeo and his ministry outreach to African immigrants in Milwaukee. All in the name of Jesus! Besides the great cause, the night has incredible food and drinks, great entertainment and fantastic auction items. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit this link to Trinity-Freistadt's website.



Save the date! 

Churches planting churches...    


The South Wisconsin District will be hosting a "Churches Planting Churches" Seminar on Friday, October 17-Saturday, October 18. This seminar is led by the  Centerfor US Missions (an LCMS RSO), and is intended for congregational leaders (pastors and lay leaders) whose congregations are interested in beginning the conversation about the possibility of planting a church. Even if you aren't sure if your congregation is being called in this direction, the seminar is a great way to explore the possibilities. Look for more details in the coming months (including location and costs, much of which is taken care of by the District). Why plant churches? So many reasons, but primarily because planting new churches helps us to reach the lost!
If you or your congregation is interested in attending this seminar, please let me know.



Speaking of supporting missionaries...   

I recently had the opportunity to visit our expanding mission field in the Dominican Republic. As many of you know, SWD has a unique partnership with this mission field. Many teams from SWD congregations and schools have helped this expanding Lutheran mission, especially in the area of Palmar Arriyba, which has a thriving congregation with an elementary school, group home for developmentally disabled youth, and a seminary building to train future Dominican pastors and other church workers. From seven confirmed Lutherans to more than 300 baptized believers in six years, this field is expanding rapidly. Not surprisingly, this rapid expansion has necessitated more funding for the missionaries serving there. Here's a link for more information.



Small Places, Big Mission--Standing in the Gap 

The LCMSRural & Small Town Mission is holding a National Mission Conference November 6-8, 2014 at the Marriott Kansas City Airport, Kansas City, Missouri, for LCMS congregational leaders in rural and small-town settings. This conference will address the blessings and challenges facing rural and small-town congregations today as well give encouragement for cultivating healthy churches that are eager to bear witness to Christ, show mercy to those in need, and develop a robust life together with their fellow members.  Registration deadline is Sept. 15.


Passionate Believers Conference 





Saturday, January 31, 2015


Dear Passionate Believer,

Mark your calendars NOW to attend the annual Passionate Believers Conference on Saturday, January 31, 2015.

Watch for emails with updated information.


Once again the conference will be held at:

Divine Redeemer Lutheran Church & School

N48 W31385 Hill Street, Hartland, WI 53029

Credit Union Survey

We invite you to review potential names for the credit union being organized for members of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).


In November, Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) announced its sponsorship of a credit union for baptized/confirmed LCMS congregation members, LCMS congregations and entities, and employees and volunteers of LCMS congregations and entities. This credit union will be a new and separate entity from LCEF, serving as a state-of-art banking resource for LCMS members.


To find out more, read the story here. For inquiries about the credit union, email



Easter & Confirmation Bulletins Inserts Available



ORDER today by clicking here. or contact Barb at the South Wisconsin District. 

                          Schools Youth & Family


Hearts For Jesus
LCMS District Schools choose Owens' Mission for 2014

The 2014 Hearts for Jesus mission offering will go to Lutherans for Life (LFL) to support a very special project called "Owen's Mission".  The goal of this project is to provide a set of Touch of Life fetal models for every Lutheran elementary and high school in the country, so that students will understand the God-given value of each life from the moment of conception.

If you would like to help our schools support this mission, you are invited to send your donation to SWD-Hearts for Jesus, 8100 W. Capitol Dr., Milwaukee, WI  53222. Or go to Donate and select "other", specifying Hearts for Jesus in the comments box.

Thank you to all the schools who have supported the program so far.   
If you are still raising money/collecting chapel offerings, please send your check to the District office by June 30, 2014.

Goal for this years:  $15,000 
Total so far this year:  $1,430.29 

Camp LuWiSoMo
This summer Camp LuWiSoMo is excited to offer a 7-day camp week (Sunday afternoon to the following Sunday morning) for the same price as the traditional 5-day week!  we have added so many NEW camp experiences to our traditional favorites that it is impossible to fit everything into 5 days; we feel this program is so valuable to our campers that we are adding 2 more days to our camp schedule at no additional cost. 

Click here for more information or to register.

Camp LuWiSoMo will again have Lutheran Band Camp this summer that will be run by the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee.

The dates are July 27 through August 2, 2014

Here is the link to their web site. 

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Our Mission:


Empowering life-changing
bold, passionate witness
of the
Jesus Christ
More Information



Rev. Richard Boeck and his family at the death of his mother


Rev. Peter Schmitt and his family at the death of his mother


Rev. Tim Benninghoff recovering from a massive stroke and surgery 


Rev. Cal Seban as he recovers from a heart attack and surgery.  


The family of Rev. Willis Piepenbrink who was called home to glory.


The family of Rev. Richard Thompson as he was called home to glory. 


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Upcoming Events Around the District
  • April 5, 2014:  Dr. Paul Maier at Elm Grove Lutheran Church 9:00 am - 3:15 pm "The Week that Changed the World"  
  • April 5, 2014:  LWML Heart to Heart Sisters event at Benediction Lutheran Church 9am - 1:00pm   
  • April 25, 2014:  Pastor James Keuch Family Benefit- Spaghetti Dinner/Silent Auction 4:00-8:00pm  at St. Paul, Union Grove
  • May 1-2, 2014:  DOXOLOGY Seminar- The Resurrection and the Life: Funerals, Preaching and Pastoral Care at Schoenstatt Retreat Center, Waukesha.  register at  
  • May 5-7, 2014:  Spring Pastors Conference, Oshkosh, WI  
  • June 9-13, 2014: Grace Place Retreat, Heartwood Retreat Center, Trego, WI for Lutheran Church worker couples   
  • June 20-21, 2014:  LWML District Convention -  Olympia Resort Oconomowoc 
  • July 28-30, 2014:  Continuing Education Workshop at St. John, West Bend - "Narrative Preaching" with Dr. David Schmitt; registration information to come 
  • July 27-Aug 2, 2014: Lutheran Band Camp at Camp LuWiSoMo   
  • September 12, 2014:  Pre-Retirement Workshop 9:00am - 3:00pm at Bethlehem, Sun Prairie watch for further details   
  • September 13, 2014:  Pre-Retirment Workshop 9:00am - 3:00pm - at the District Office, watch for further details   
  • September 26-27, 2014:  LWML Fall Retreat Blue Harbor, Sheboygan, WI
  • October 17-18, 2014:  Churches Planting Churches Seminar - watch for further details
  • November 6-8, 2014:  LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission, Kansas City, Missouri 
  • February 6-7, 2015:  LWML Winter Getaway (Young Women's Retreat) Racine Marriott 
Pastor Calls and Vacancies
Calling Congregations
  • Divine Savior - Hartford 
  • Divine Redeemer - Hartland
  • Redeemer - Manitowoc
  • Trinity Freistadt - Mequon
  • Hope-Milwaukee  
  • Monona - Monona   
  • Prince of Peace - Racine 
  • St. John, Portage
  • Bethlehem - Sun Prairie  
  • Trinity-Wautoma 
  • Trinity - Wisconsin Dells

Temporarily Non-Calling

  • Gospel - Milwaukee
  • St. Mark - Milwaukee 

Pastors Accepting a Call

  • Marc Englehardt - Brookfield Lutheran to Immanuel, Oceanside, CA 
Contact Information

President John C. Wille
Karen Hauser-Rayner