Martin Luther College

Thalassa Prize


This award is given to recognize a Martin Luther College student or graduate who expresses clearly and beautifully, in image and word, a personal reflection on a WELS/CELC ministry experience overseas.

2023 Winner: Go in Peace, Your Sins Are Forgiven

The winner of the 2023 Thalassa contest is Nathan Golisch MLC ’22 with his submission, “Go in Peace, Your Sins Are Forgiven.”

Nathan was commissioned by the Friends Network to serve as a missionary to Law and Gospel Lutheran Church and the Novaliches community, a densely populated “suburb” of Quezon City in Metro Manila, Philippines.

MLC’s Cultural Engagement Center awarded Nathan $1,000, half of which he designated to the Friends Network. This is the 17th annual Thalassa Prize awarded by MLC.

 Go in Peace, Your Sins Are Forgiven

In 23 years, I’ve met thousands of Confessional Lutherans my age. It’s an odd thing, trying to imagine what my spiritual journey would have been without experiencing that sort of seemingly endless fellowship.

For the 30 or so young people of Law and Gospel Lutheran in Metro Manila, Philippines, fellowship calls to mind something different. Not 12 years of Christian schooling or the sound of an organ overpowering the Sunday morning buzz of 300 souls gathering together in His Name.

No, for these young people, it’s the weekly Sunday morning walk together to worship, the older hand-in-hand with the Sunday School little ones. It’s the praise and prayer they offer without the compulsion of any adults in their life. It’s the hours spent with one another after the service is over, the home-cooked meal prepared for them to enjoy. And now, it’s the bread and wine, the body and blood.

Confirmation class had been put on hold under the strict lockdowns in the Philippines, but on Easter Sunday this year—and for the first time in over five years—10 young people were confirmed in their Christian faith.

With that, fellowship meant something new—an almost 2,000-year-long tradition. “Take and eat . . . Take and drink . . .”

Seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting the bread and wine. Hearing “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” All the senses are at work. All of God’s promises are at work. For them. For us. At that moment, 10 young men and women are experiencing in a new way the extravagant grace of God together with the Communion of Saints around the world.

They are experiencing Christ again.

Purposes of the MLC Thalassa Prize

  • To express gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve him in international venues.
  • To provide an opportunity for MLC students and graduates in WELS/CELC international ministry to share their stories.
  • To motivate and inspire current MLC students to consider serving overseas.
  • To bring glory to God through excellence in the arts of photography and creative writing.
  • To reaffirm through image and word the dignity of the entire human race and the desire of God to save all people.

Entrance Requirements

  • Open to all MLC undergraduates and graduates who have done WELS/CELC ministry or are doing WELS/CELC ministry outside the United States.
  • Each entry must include
    • A completed entry form.
    • A color digital photograph taken in a foreign mission field.
    • A personal reflection on ministry in that foreign mission field.
  • Entrants may submit as many entries as they wish.
  • Deadline for all submissions: April 30, 2024
  • Check out photo and essay specifications, judging criteria, and tips for entrants here.


  • The Thalassa Prize recipient will be announced in May or June.
  • The prize will be divided equally between the winner and a WELS/CELC international mission of the winner’s choice.