Our Prayers Are with the Czer Family

In the early morning hours of June 26, 2023, our dear friend and colleague Larry Czer received his crown of life. Larry was surrounded by his family as he passed, their grief matched by deep confidence and joy. As his wife, Ramona, said, “Heaven is Larry’s home, and his Savior’s waiting for him.” Larry dedicated […]

A Practice Lost, a Practice Restored

 “Instill in the hearts of our children
a desire to follow you
as they prepare for future days.

Help them distinguish
between what is passing and what is eternal,
between instant thrills and lasting joy. 

Encourage more young people
to prepare for service
in the public ministry of the gospel.” 

(Excerpt from the “Prayer of the Church,”
The Service, Setting Three, Christian Worship 2021, p. 198)

As these words are prayed again and again in our churches across the country, you are seeing the restoration of a corporate worship practice that has been too often missing among us for 30 years.

A Practice Lost
In The Lutheran Hymnal, used in our WELS churches from 1941 to 1993, the Prayer of the Church for both non-communion (page 5) and communion Sundays (page 15) included this petition: “Send forth laborers into Thy harvest . . .” When Christian Worship 1993 came into use, there was a shift away from a repeating General Prayer to a set of Prayers of the Church that rotated through the seasons of the church year.

We could debate the pros and cons of that shift. Yet this much is certain: what was unintentionally lost in our corporate prayers was the weekly petition to our Father to raise up a new generation of gospel workers. In the eleven sample Prayers of the Church in Christian Worship 1993, there were some petitions asking God to bless those currently preaching and teaching the Word, and there was a flowering of petitions asking God to embolden his entire army of royal priests to speak to others the hope they profess. But you can scan all those prayers without finding a single clear reference to what Jesus urged us to pray: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).

Now certainly, many of us continued to pray Jesus’ petition in our personal or family prayers. But was there not a loss when we no longer prayed this petition together in our congregations? What may have been the impact of that loss also on our individual or family prayers? A pattern lost in corporate worship easily becomes a pattern lost in our individual and family worship.

It’s not too much of a stretch to wonder whether part of what we are experiencing now in vacancies is the fruit of this truism of our prayer life: “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

A Practice Restored
That’s why the restoration in Christian Worship 2021 of the historic practice is so wonderful. Week after week, as the assembled people of God, we send our prayers heavenward, asking our Father to lead many from the next generation to serve in gospel ministry!

What a perfect time for this practice to be restored! Anyone who follows call lists and vacancy numbers knows we are struggling as a church body to provide anywhere near a sufficient number of staff ministers, teachers, and pastors. That is true even if all we consider is maintaining current levels of ministry. What really makes the need glaring is when we compare available workers to the expanding outreach opportunities in new mission starts and in schools with growing enrollments, from preschool through high school.

Partners in the Practice
I certainly don’t wish to shift attention away from MLC. We feel the weight of the responsibility you’ve given us to train a new generation of gospel messengers. As we Pursue Excellence under the Cross, we assure you that we take seriously the task our Lord—and you—have entrusted to our campus.

But the task was never MLC’s alone. The work of recruiting young (and not so young) men and women for ministry isn’t something that happens only in New Ulm or wherever our MLC representatives happen to travel. The task belongs to our entire fellowship. It belongs to all who cherish the truth of the gospel proclaimed and shared!

And prayers for such faithful workers aren’t meant to rise to heaven only from New Ulm and here and there when we think of it in our church body. If we take seriously Jesus’ encouragement to pray for workers, such prayers will rise again and again—corporately and individually—all across our synod.

When all of us do both—pray and recruit—then we may find that God makes those we are encouraging the very answers to our prayers.

Dear Father, encourage more young people to prepare for service in the public ministry. Amen.   

President Gurgel is sharing an adaptation of this article at the 2023 Synod Convention in Saginaw, Michigan, this August.

Spring Choir Tour 2023

During spring break, the MLC College Choir shared the gospel in song under the theme “Christ Is All in All.” While winter weather delayed the choir’s departure and caused the cancellation of the Washington and Oregon concerts, the choir was able to present their concerts in California.
Chilly temperatures greeted the group in California, but they met with a warm reception from their hosts and new friends. As a fresh start to the tour, the choir joined the congregation of St. Mark-Citrus Heights CA for worship on Sunday, February 26.
The tour isn’t all hard work! Members took breaks between concerts to sight-see and enjoy fellowship with one another. And they took plenty of fun pictures to prove it! Check out the MLC Facebook page to see photos of the fun.
Pictured: The College Choir sings during St. Mark’s morning worship.

Bingo Night!

Snow, ice, and frigid temperatures can’t keep students away from one of their favorite events: Bingo Night!
While the MLC Ladies’ Auxiliary sponsors many projects in support of our students, Bingo Night is special. The Ladies’ Auxiliary hosts this event as an annual encouragement to students, letting them see that support firsthand.
This year, 77 different giving units, including many churches and organizations, were so generous! Students won quilts, baked goods, and almost $5,000 in donated gift cards and cash. Most importantly, they felt valued and encouraged by you, MLC’s supporters. To find out how you can help with Auxiliary projects, visit their website.
Pictured: Students gather in the MLC auditorium for an exciting Bingo Night 2023.

New Face on Campus: Rachel Youngblom

Dr. Rachel Youngblom (special education) is originally from New Ulm, and in 2022, she left the Phoenix sunshine to return to her hometown. She serves MLC as a professor of special education in both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
After attending Minnesota Valley LHS, Dr. Youngblom pursued post-secondary education at Minnesota State University Mankato, obtaining a BS in psychology, an MS in special education, and a PsyD in school psychology.
She then practiced as a licensed psychologist, a certified school psychologist, a paraprofessional, and a braille transcriptionist. Dr. Youngblom is a blessing to MLC’s special education program because she brings expertise on how WELS ministries can serve children with disabilities and their families.
“I have had the opportunity to evaluate, assess, diagnose, and support children with a wide range of disabilities and disorders,” says Dr. Youngblom. “In addition to working with children, I have been blessed to collaborate with various other professionals and providers who support students with disabilities, and learn from them.”
Now she’s sharing her knowledge with her students at MLC. Foundations of Special Education, Developmental Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities and Emotional Behavioral Disorders are just a few of the courses in which Dr. Youngblom has the opportunity to work with future teachers on supporting students with various disabilities.
“I am excited for our graduates from the special education program to be prepared to serve students with disabilities in our WELS schools,” says Dr. Youngblom. “Knowing that we can extend the reach of God’s Word by including exceptional students in our schools and providing them with specialized instruction is such an amazing opportunity and blessing.”

MLC Forum: Radium Girls

On February 17-19, MLC Forum presented Radium Girls, the story of the women who painted luminous watch dials and had to fight for justice after suffering radiation poisoning.
Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder.
Under the direction of Josiah Winkel (Redemption-Milwaukee), cast members were able to explore who these complex human characters truly were and how best to portray them.
The cast’s performances met with glowing reviews from audience members, who noted the outstanding acting, organization, and artistry involved in the production.
Pictured: Joshua Aden (St. John/St. James-Reedsville WI) portrays Arthur Roeder, owner of the US Radium Corporation.

Early Field Experience

If you come to MLC during the first week of spring break, you’ll notice that many students and faculty are still on campus, and they’re excited about it. They’re doing what they love: teaching!

Early Field Experience (EFE) is required of all education and staff ministry students, and for the first-years, it’s held on campus during the first week of spring break. Students learn about reflection journals, lesson planning, classroom management, and much more. The education professors mentor students as they prepare their first lessons.
These teachers-in-training start with some simple lessons for their peers, practicing planning and instruction techniques. Then the real fun begins: preparing to teach elementary and middle school students! Each MLC student teaches their lesson to multiple small groups.
While nerves are high, morale is high too. EFE gives students their first taste of the teaching ministry and encourages them to grow as they look forward to the future.
Pictured: Anna Plocher (King of Kings-Garden Grove CA) leads a lesson for her peers.

Ladies’ Auxiliary: A Great Way to Serve

Please consider joining or supporting the MLC Ladies’ Auxiliary!

Ladies’ Auxiliary has supported the college for more than 50 years, donating over $600,000 dollars. Their standing projects include scholarships, student teacher travel assistance, and student outreach trip assistance. They also pledge to fund many other important projects every year.

A highlight of their work is the annual Bingo Night in February. Every year, the students fill the auditorium for this event and leave with plates of homemade baked goods, handmade quilts and blankets, knitted scarves and caps, gift cards, and cash. This year, almost $5,000 in donated gift cards and cash was given out.

If you’d like to learn more about Ladies’ Auxiliary, check out their website or contact their faculty advisor, Professor Bill Pekrul. If joining isn’t convenient now, you can still support their projects. Donate here and select the Ladies’ Auxiliary option. Thanks, parents!



Winter Carnival

What does a college student do when the temperature is minus 10 F? Broomball, painting, ice skating, hockey, trivia, and more!
During Winter Carnival, students willing to embrace the cold competed in broomball, played hockey against Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary students, and went ice skating.
For those more interested in escaping the frigid weather, indoor activities included badminton, Iron Chef, speedball, trivia night, and a talent show.
Students enjoyed the best of both worlds in a favorite event: Bob Ross Night. They painted a wintry scene while staying warm, eating snacks, and relaxing with friends.
Pictured: Naomi Bridgemen (St. Mark-Eau Claire WI), Yu Geng (Jerry) Yang (St. Paul-New Ulm MN), and Jacob Leyrer (St. John-Wauwatosa WI) show off their Bob Ross Night creations.