Professor Paul Koelpin WLS ’90 and Professors Emeriti Daniel Deutschlander WLS ’68 and Arnold Koelpin WLS ’58 were featured in the Luther documentary, A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy. Paul Koelpin (pictured) also appeared in Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World.

As Reformation historians, the professors offered context and commentary on this world-altering movement and its lasting effects. Both films were made by Boettcher + Trinklein Inc, the Emmy Award-winning production company of WELS members Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein. The Idea that Changed the World was featured on PBS in September. It’s available on Netflix and on DVD from PBS. A Return to Grace played in churches and select cinemas. It is available on DVD from Northwestern Publishing House.

Luther’s Christmas Pageant

Adapted by Professor Emeritus Arnold Koelpin

“Luther on Christmas Eve” was painted by Bernhard Plockhurst in 1887.

Martin Luther liked to celebrate Christmas with the freshness and spontaneity of a child. He composed the Christmas hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” to be enacted as a family Christmas pageant. Published in 1535, it may well have been written for the previous Christmas, when his son Hans was 8 and his daughter Lenchen was 5.

Imagine: Near the Christmas tree stood a cradle. Most likely Luther himself, with his fine tenor voice, took the part of the angel and sang stanzas 1-2, where the angel announced: “From heaven above to earth I come to bear good news to every home.” Perhaps his wife, Katie, continued the angel’s announcement in stanzas 3-4, and then together, in stanza 5, they invited the children to come to the cradle.

The Luther children, like shepherds, were probably waiting not far from the cradle: John (Hans), Elizabeth, Magdalena (Lenchen), Martin, Paul, and Margaret. “Look now, you children, at the sign” was their cue. They took up the song at stanza 6: “How glad we’ll be that it is so! With all the shepherds let us go.”

We can imagine them approaching the cradle, individually or together, as they sang each of the subsequent stanzas, marveling at the Christ-child and inviting him into their hearts. And finally, the entire family joined in the closing doxology of stanza 15: “Glory to God in highest heaven!”

You can reenact this inclusive and intimate family Christmas pageant in your home, whether you have just a few people or a large group. Find the pageant, with hymn stanzas and the easy-to-use instructions, at

Note: *Elizabeth died in infancy, but we have included her in the pageant nonetheless.

Let the Children Come!

Trinity Christian Early Childhood Centre – St. Lucia

A Servant Teaches How To Serve

At Trinity Christian Early Childhood Centre-St. Lucia, director and teacher Evodia Cassius-Noel ’16 is a servant of the Word and of her young students. And she makes sure her students are learning to serve others as well. The church and school are in an area of the island that is considered problematic, she says. “Before enrolling in our school, many of the students had not been exposed to books, physical activity, or simple things like shopping in the supermarket or interacting with people beyond their families.”

Donors pay 50-75% of the students’ tuition, allowing them to attend this Christian centre that introduces them to the world—and also to the Word. “Students are learning how much God loves them,” Evodia says.

And then their teacher leads them to share that love in their community. “We do random acts of love—small service projects for the public. To date we have given candy canes and the Christmas message to the staff of the special education unit on our island, donated money to the children’s orphanage, and served tea and coffee to people in the Bisee community on their way to work.”

The preschool is small, with 16 students aged 2-5, but the impact they are making on their community is large. People are noticing, and enrollment is on the rise.

Evodia is grateful. Originally from St. Lucia herself, she gave up a few seasons of St. Lucia sun for Minnesota snow so she could earn her early childhood education degree from MLC and then come back home and make a difference. That’s the kind of servant she is.

Adapted from CLS e-News, a publication of WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools (September 6, 2017).

Crawdads for MLC Grads

Fifty members of Victory of the Lamb-Katy TX added a twist to their annual crawfish boil this year. In addition to the games, Cajun music, and tasty crawfish, they also took a freewill offering for MLC’s Congregational Partner Grant Program (CPGP).

At their spring event, newly dubbed “Crawdads for MLC Grads,” members gave $1,617. Through CPGP, MLC matched $1,000, and a generous donor matched the rest, raising Victory of the Lamb’s gift to $3,234.

Organizer Kevin Begnaud said: “As a congregation we have a lot of respect for ministerial education. This is one of the core values of our congregation. It’s particularly true of the vicar program and how it encourages and develops young men for their roles as pastors. Additionally, we recognize the importance of MLC in fostering a sure foundation for pastors, called workers, and laypeople, a foundation that will lend itself to seeing them appropriately prepared for their (and His) work.”

Several alumni attend the Texas church, including Pastor Nathan Buege WLS ’02, Amy Buege ’98, Charles Buege DMLC ’69, Ruth Buege DMLC ’71, and Vicar Noah Willitz ’14. Several younger members have MLC in their sights.

Begnaud began having the crawfish boils at his house several years ago “because it was an opportunity to have many church and non-church friends hang out together.” When the annual event was moved to the church, Begnaud and several others continued to act as host, donating time and food, so that all proceeds could go to the church. This is the first year they’ve donated the members’ donations to MLC.

As for the crawdads themselves, Begnaud says he’s continuing a family tradition of “providing a repast of high quality and spiciness.” What he throws in the pot includes crawfish, sausage, corn on the cob, red potatoes, yellow onion, garlic cloves, mushrooms, and—we’re quite sure—secret ingredients he refuses to reveal.

“I believe dedicating this gift to MLC was a great idea,” he concludes, “and I look forward to continuing such efforts well into the future, until they bury me with my pot!”

Your Gifts Make MLC a Great Value!

Although tuition, room and board at Martin Luther College is rising every year—as it is rising at all colleges across the country—the net price our MLC students pay has risen very little.

This is due to your generosity! Your gifts allow us to award need-based and merit-based grants and scholarships to our students—in addition to the financial aid they receive from the government and other sources.

Because of your generosity, MLC has received national recognition again this year, being named a “Best Value” by several different organizations. See these awards on the back page!

Thank you for helping MLC provide a high-quality education at an affordable price. Thank you for partnering with us as we prepare these young men and women to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank you to Director of Finance Carla Hulke for these figures.

Thank You, Congregational Partners!

The Congregational Partner Grant Program (CPGP) has taken off in a big way! For the 2017-18 school year, 242 students from 146 congregations received grants from their congregations that were then matched by MLC. This resulted in more than $400,000 in aid to our students!

We plan to expand the program to include MLC juniors in 2018-19 and seniors in 2019-20. If you’d like to support your congregation members studying at MLC, please apply! Applications for the 2018-19 school year will be accepted until June 1, 2018.

If you do not have any MLC students in your congregation, you can still participate. You can be the match! Your gift will be used to match other congregations’ gifts to MLC for their members.


Professor James Danell WLS ’90 (German) presented “Luther’s Jewish Writings” at the St. Croix Pastors’ Conference in September. He preached and then presented “From Luther to the Formula of Concord” at the Mission Festival of Zion-Morton MN in September. And he presented “Luther and the Reformation” at St. John-Vesta MN in October.

Professor Paul Koelpin WLS ’90 (history/theology) presented “The Blessings and Challenges of ‘Teaching Lutheran’ in the 21st Century” at the Lutheran College Conference at MLC in August. The faculties of Bethany Lutheran College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, and Martin Luther College participated at this conference. He also presented the keynote “Take Every Thought Captive – Make It Obedient to Christ: On Being a Lutheran at Reformation 500” at the Southeast Wisconsin District Convention at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in June and Reformation-related topics at the Michigan and Minnesota District Teachers’ Conferences in October.

Professor Thomas Nass was co-chair of the CELC committee that produced the “Ninety-Five Theses for the 21st Century.”

Professor David Scharf WLS ’05 (theology) presented on Luther’s “Babylonian Captivity of the Church” for Bay Area Lutheran Ministries in Bay City MI.

Dr. Keith Wessel WLS ’91 (Latin, Greek, theology) was the keynote speaker at the Arizona-California District Conference in San Diego in November. His three one-hour presentations centered on the Reformation and the continuing importance of Lutheran parish and elementary education.

President Mark Zarling WLS ’80 wrote the essay “In Trembling Hands! With What Spirit Shall We Celebrate the Reformation?” for Reformation 500: The Enduring Relevance of the Lutheran Reformation (Northwestern Publishing House, 2017). He also presented “Luther and the Saints” at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Symposium in October.

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Preschool – Las Vegas

Caring, Sharing, Preparing

On Thursday nights Erin Stob ’16 (pictured) attends the Basic Bible Questions class at Beautiful Savior-Las Vegas. An MLC-trained teacher wouldn’t usually attend a beginner’s Bible class, but Erin isn’t doing this for herself.

This is the story: Last school year, two of Mrs. Stob’s aides came bounding into her office, excited because one of the preschool moms mentioned she wanted to get her daughter baptized. Erin reached out to the mom and offered to take the Basic Bible Questions course with her. It’s become their regular Thurday night date. And yes, the little girl was baptized. “It was on Easter in front of a full church and a life-sized tomb,” Erin says. “We all cried many joyful and thankful tears. The little girl went around telling all her friends she’d been ‘baptetized’ on Easter.”

It’s a beautiful story, but it’s not that surprising. Sharing the gospel with little children and their families is the primary purpose of WELS early childhood ministries. At Beautiful Savior Lutheran Preschool, they put it this way: CARING for children’s and families’ needs, SHARING the love of Jesus, and PREPARING young hearts and minds for now and the future.

An Early Childhood Director’s Schedule
Erin’s Thursday night Bible classes are one small item on a very busy schedule. She opens the school each morning at 7, and when the 45 children arrive, they begin their day with Pastor Andrew Mueller’s chapel service. After chapel, they practice for the next time they’ll be singing in church, and then they break into three sections: 4K, 3K, and Rising 3K. Erin teaches until noon and works on her administrative tasks in the afternoons. Like any school administrator, her tasks include financials, state licensing regulations, creating marketing materials, maximizing enrollment, planning outreach events, and evaluating staff—not to mention the emails, phone calls, and meetings with staff and parents that punctuate the day.

Curriculum Planning
A preschool may sometimes look like a playschool to the uneducated eye, but these playtimes are actually finely tuned curricular activities, with specific learning outcomes attached. That’s why it’s so important that a college-degreed educator lead the school. At Beautiful Savior, Erin led a complete curriculum revamping and intensive teacher training last summer. She worked closely with her 14 staff members, “rebuilding their knowledge of teaching through their own reflection and self-evaluation.” She’s proud of the enthusiasm and the growth of her staff, both professionally and as a team.

The Support of a Good Pastor
Erin sees her pastor’s support as another blessing of the school. In addition to his daily chapel services, Pastor Mueller has weekly meetings with her, he provides professional and personal counseling and encouragement, and he attends the events to build relationships with the families.

The Outreach Events
The school and church outreach events at Beautiful Savior bring in hundreds of attendees. “Trunk or Treat” (which is trick-or-treating out of decorated trunks—plus a train, petting zoo, bouncy houses, and face painting) brought in 350 people last year, each one of them a soul who is becoming more comfortable with the people and the facilities at Beautiful Savior.

Mrs. Stob’s favorite event is Bedtime Stories Night. The three classroom teachers each prepare a 10-minute story. Everyone comes in their PJs, including the teachers, and the children and families rotate through the classrooms, hearing all the stories, and then finishing in the chapel, where the church youth group performs a Readers’ Theater production for them. Of course there’s milk and cookies.

It’s About the Gospel
It might be easy to get lost in the details of this bustling preschool, but Erin keeps her eye fixed on the most important part of this ministry. Inside the classrooms, the children are immersed in the Word, both at Bible time and in all the classes. They even line up to a signal song: “My God Is So Great.”

And every minute of the day, in and out of the classroom, Erin knows the importance of “building relationships between the school, the church, and our community here in Vegas,” because it’s relationships that lead to gospel conversations.

Reformation 500 Contest Winners

In celebration of 500 Years of God’s Blessings through the Lutheran Reformation, students participated in three campus competitions,  an art contest, a hymn contest, and a T-shirt design contest—all on Reformation themes.

Click here to view our winners and their submissions!