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

Dear brothers and sisters in the faith:  

Bitterness happens because something sweet has turned sour. That's the case for the Prophet Jeremiah. That's the way Jeremiah himself describes his relationship with God. Jeremiah tells God, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight."

But the sweetness has gone away. The sweetness has turned bitter. Jeremiah has grown bitter and resentful. Listen to how deeply he is hurt. He says to the God who has called him to be a prophet, "I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation." Jeremiah has only done what God has asked him to do. He is confused. Listen to his questions. He asks, "Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?"  

To understand the reason for Jeremiah's bitterness, let's walk in his shoes a bit. God has called Jeremiah to a particularly difficult ministry. Listen to what God tells Jeremiah about his calling. God says, "I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day." Jeremiah is called by God to show the Israelites their sin, and then to call them to repentance. That wasn't an easy task. At every turn Jeremiah is foiled by the enemies of God. When Jeremiah talks about the sins which the Israelites have committed, he is branded a troublemaker. Because he is faithful to his calling Jeremiah is treated as a social outcast. When he calls the people to repentance, he is accused of being an enemy of the state.

Facing, owning up to sin is not something that we human beings do very well. We like to deny and avoid. We like to blame others. We like to excuse what we have done wrong; after all it can't be our fault. Calling someone to repentance is not a job that most of us want. From what we hear from the mouth and from the pen of Jeremiah, it's not a ministry that he enjoys very much at all either. Look at who Jeremiah blames for the troubles and the frustrations that he is struggling with. Jeremiah's target is God himself.


However, God is not to blame. T

he evil that makes us bitter has a different source. The sin that causes us to turn away from God is part of the world around us, and it is part of us. The fears and the doubts that rise up when things don't go as we want, rise up because we are sinners. Look at Jeremiah by way of example. The people reject Jeremiah's call to repentance because they have rejected God. The people rebel because that is the nature of sin; to rebel against God. Jeremiah is filled with bitterness because he, too, is a sinner. Jeremiah lashes out at God in frustration.  


Who hasn't been there? Haven't we all at times done the same? Aren't we guilty of the very same thing? Under the pressures of everyday living we grow so frustrated that we lash out in anger at God. If God loves us, how could he allow such a thing to happen? If God really cares about us, how can we be so lonely? How can things be so out of control? How can life be so complicated? How can I be so miserable? It has to be God's fault, or so we think. But it isn't God's fault. It's never God's fault. Remember what St. James writes in his Epistle. James says, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."


Only good things come to us from God. Only the best things come from God. Look at what our God has done for us. Look to the cross. Look at the sacrifice that takes place there on that cross. St. Paul tells the Roman believers, "He...did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all." Elsewhere Paul tells the Corinthians, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." The Prophet Isaiah tells us that our Lord Jesus was "pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."


Forgiveness means that we can let go of the bitterness that complicates our lives. Forgiveness means that we have been restored. Forgiveness empowers us so that, as Paul tells Timothy, we can be "useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." We are useful to the Lord for every good work!


May our Lord bless us not only with His forgiveness, but also with willingness for many good works!


Rev. Dr. John C. Wille ____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Pre- Retirement Workshops! 

Concordia Plan Services and the South Wisconsin District are hosting two 1-day workshops for professional church workers and their spouses to help them understand the process and importance of planning for retirement.  Paul Snyder, Retirement & Benefit Educator for Concordia Plan Services, will be leading these workshops. 

  • Basic Finances & Budgeting
  • Retirement Income & Concordia Plan Changes
  • Health Care & Costs
  • Envisioning Retirement Life
  • Advance Directives
  • Personal Q&A Time as Time Allows

September 12, 2014 

9 am - 3 pm
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
300 Broadway Drive - Sun Prairie, WI 53590

September 13, 2014 

9 am - 3 pm
South Wisconsin District Office
8100 W. Capitol Drive - Milwaukee, WI 53222


There is no cost to you to attend a workshop! The district will be providing morning refreshments & lunch. But advance registration is needed to plan for lunch and materials, and to make sure you have a seat, so please register with Karen Rayner  no later than Monday August 22, 2014. We will need your name, your spouse's name if attending, an e-mail address, and phone number. Shortly before the workshop you will receive some preliminary worksheets to complete, as well as questions to begin asking yourself about your potential retirement.  




Please make sure that all benefit-eligible workers at your church or school
are aware of this workshop!




Our SWD executive staff has been asked to be part of a pilot group of districts in addressing the need for congregational revitalization. The SWD staff will be at the LCMS International Center, Monday, August 18th to begin the discussion of how we can collaborate on every level to assist our congregations and their church workers as we engage this unchristian culture in which we find ourselves. Please keep this and your own congregation together with your pastor in your prayers!!  



Support Needed for a New Deaconess in the Dominican Republic:

The good news is that the outreach and ministry of the Dominican Republic mission start have been greatly blessed!  With those blessings come growing ministry needs.  One of which was highlighted in a request from Rev. Ted Krey, lead missionary in the DR and LCMS Regional Director.  Ted writes in an email:

I have a deaconess, Gail Ludvisgon who is in need of support for her personal support.  Do you have any congregations in which she could talk or that you could point me to.  Does the district itself have anything that could help us to push her towards this goal?  She is already 20 percent funded, so another 50 percent and we would have her on her way.  She will be writing curriculum for deaconesses not only for the Dominican Republic, but also Latin America.


Serving as district president, I thank you the people, congregations, and pastor of SWD for the way in which you have so generously supported the DR mission over the past seven years!  So many good things are happening there as the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments administered.  A solidly Lutheran church body is emerging!   


If you can assist in supporting this new deaconess who serves in the Dominican Republic, we will all be blessed; and I will be grateful to you!   

Rev. Stephen Rosebrock Installation  Rev. Joshua Rusert Installation      Rev. Jonathan Meyer Installation
at Mt. Olive, Milwaukee                        at Trinity Freistadt, Mequon            at Divine Savior, Hartford 

German Fest:
German Fest has made a CD of the complete church service with Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison available.  The cost is $3 including shipping.  Please make check out to:  German Fest C/O Ronald Kabitzke 6811 Hickory Rd., West Bend, WI 53090 

A Place of Refuge Baby Shower: 

On June 4th the South Wisconsin District Staff held a baby shower for A Place of Refuge (APOR) mom, Tia and her baby Leeonna. Tia was overwhelmed with the "showering" of gifts for Leeonna and very appreciative of the attention given to them.

A Place of Refuge looks to congregations and organizations to sponsor showers for their moms, as they may never get to experience the fun of a shower.  If you would like to sponsor as shower please contact A Place of Refuge.   



Pig Roast/Silent Auction/Family Games:  
Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm at Chapel of the Cross, Racine

A benefit to help recently ordained pastors in the Racine/Kenosha Circuite with student debt reduction.

2014 Annual Chaplaincy Fundraiser Picnic: At 3 Guys & A Pizza Pie Banquet Hall

Sunday, October 5, 2014 - Doors open at 11:00 am

Chicken and Hog Roast Dinner at Noon
Silent Auction - Bingo
Entertainment by "The Cody Clausen Band" $40.00 Adult Donation $20.00 Donation Children 6-12
RSVP by September 20th
For more information call 920-892-2211 -
See Flyer  

Mission & Ministry News


Campus ministries want to hear from YOU!   

One more reminder that our District Campus ministries are ready to keep our college students connected to all the blessings of God's love and forgiveness while they are away from home. Recently an e-newsletter with all of the updated information about some of their activities as well as their contact information was sent to all parish pastors. We intend to continue to keep your congregation updated with campus news as it is forwarded to us.

Here's a link our first Campus Ministries e-newsletter.  



Back to School supplies are needed!


You can help the children of various cultures from Benediction and Zion Lutheran Churches in Milwaukee go prepared to school this coming fall. We are collecting backpacks, paper, folders, crayons, markers, pencils, pens, scissors, and binders for about 75 children. Please bring your school supply donations to the church Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to noon, until      August 17. Your assistance will be appreciated very much! Benediction is located at    5740 N 85th St., Milwaukee 53225, 414-463-9158.



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 at Divine Savior, 3200 Highway K South, Hartford. This seminar is led by the Center for 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.

"A great way to work together with my staff and develop an exciting vision for reaching the lost in our community," (said a pastor, MNS).

"It got our group thinking outside the box, thinking of new ways to reach more people!" (said a lay person, IDW).

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. Why plant churches? So many reasons, but primarily because planting new churches helps us to reach the lost!


Please click here for more information. Registration can be made online (register with a user name and password first), or call Peg Raabe at the District office (414-464-8101).


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.

LCMS Missionary of the Month    

Ruth Pollex serves the Lord through the LCMS as a GEO missionary in the Dominican Republic. She is the liaison between the Lutheran school in the Dominican Republic and the partner Lutheran schools and churches in the United States. She also supports the principal and staff at this Lutheran school through the coordination and implementation of workshops and new curriculum provided by these supporting schools.  


Ruth visited our District in July while in the States this summer, raising support to serve a second year in the Lutheran schools. Here is her own newsletter she wrote while she was here. One of the next school projects is the implementation of a curriculum (teacher guides and student books for Spanish, Social Studies and Science) which will help drastically in the learning/teaching process. In the past teachers did not have teacher guides, nor did students have their own textbooks. Quite often students would copy from the same book in groups of 4 and then pass the book to another group. Thank you to South Wisconsin District for this support.  


Here is more information about Ruth.  


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
Lutheran Church Extension Fund 
Rostered Church Worker Loans
Rostered Church Worker Loans

                          Schools Youth & Family


Mission & Ministry in the Dominican Republic

News Update from Missionary Ruth Pollex, missionary in the DR


End of School Year and plans for the next!

The last months of school rushed by quickly as we worked to wrap up the school year and start vigorous planning for next year. There will be some big changes. 


Please pray that we are able to have Grade 8 next year...please pray for our Grade 7s that we can stay connected with them through the church community...pray for their home life...pray for the girl who married at 13 and left school...praise God and pray for the six students who were just confirmed!


  Graduating Students - June 2014 (left to right):

  Felipe (recently confirmed), Cristo (wants to be a pastor),

  Saul (wants to be a baseball player)








    * * * FREE * * *

          Parent Night Event

"Performing a Balancing Act for our Kids"

Dr. Tim Elmore


Monday, September 22, 2014

7:00 pm

Milwaukee Lutheran High School

9700 W. Grantosa Dr., Milwaukee


Invite your parents from your school and church! Friends and neighbors too! 



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Our Mission:


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

Look! New Website

If you have not already visited our new and improved
website check it out!



Rev. Tim Benninghoff recovering and rehabilitating after another surgery


 The Family of Nicole Kreger, a teacher, who's husband, Rodney, was injured in a work accident  


 Rev. Al Behnke and family at the death of his mother 



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Upcoming Events Around the District
  • September 7:  Pig Roast/Silent Auction 4:00 pm at Chapel of the Cross, Racine for Pastor debt reduction
  • September 12: Pre-Retirement Workshop 9:00am - 3:00pm at Bethlehem, Sun Prairie   
  • September 13: Pre-Retirement Workshop 9:00am - 3:00pm - at the District Office   
  • September 22:  Parent Event with Dr. Tim Elmore, Milwaukee Lutheran High School
  • September 23:  Administrator's Conference, Condordia University, Wisconsin 
  • September 26-27:  LWML Fall Retreat Blue Harbor, Sheboygan, WI
  • October 5: 2014 Annual Chaplaincy Picnic @ 3 Guys & A Pizza Pie Banquet Hall - doors open at 11:00 am
  • October 7-8:  Retired Pastor Retreat - Waupaca, WI 
  • October 17-18:  Churches Planting Churches Seminar - Divine Savior, Hartford
  • November 6-8:  LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission, Kansas City, Missouri  
  • November 14:  Professional Church workers' Conference - Olympia Resort, Oconomowoc   
  • January 31, 2015:  Passionate Believers Conference - Divine Redeemer, Hartland 
  • February 6-7, 2015:  LWML Winter Getaway (Young Women's Retreat) Racine Marriott
  • April 20-22, 2015: Spring Pastors Conference - Holiday Inn, Manitowoc
  • June 7-9, 2015: District Convention - Concordia, Mequon
  • October 12-14, 2014:  Fall Pastors Conference - Stoney Creek Conference Center, Onalaska,
Pastor Calls and Vacancies
Calling Congregations
  • Immanuel -Brookfield
  • Divine Savior - Hartford
  • St. Peter - Lebanon
  • Redeemer - Manitowoc
  • Hope-Milwaukee  
  • Monona - Monona   
  • Prince of Peace - Racine 
  • St. John, Portage
  • Bethlehem - Sun Prairie  
  • Trinity - Wisconsin Dells

Temporarily Non-Calling

  • Gospel - Milwaukee
  • St. Mark - Milwaukee 

Pastors Accepting a Call

  • Jonah Burakowski - St. John, Beloit to Living Hope, Stafford, Virginia
Contact Information

President John C. Wille
Karen Rayner