2021 Symposium

A Symposium on Pastoral Wellness

For many pastors, the pandemic has overturned daily parish life as they had come to know it. Faithful pastors know all about enduring the heat of the day. In dealing with the current realities and ongoing consequences of the pandemic, however, they are confronted with new challenges on multiple fronts. The burden of pastoral care has increased significantly, and many have expressed concerns over the long-term viability of ministry once the pandemic has passed. Pastors are already tired—and they are still facing a long road ahead as they look not only to the latter half of 2021, but also beyond.

The 2021 Symposium on Pastoral Wellness will aim to be a source of personal encouragement and spiritual nourishment as it seeks to minister to the whole man—body and soul.

Dr. Mark Paustian, a professor at Martin Luther College, will present an essay on spiritual wellness. Pastor Jonathan Scharf, serving God’s people at Abiding Grace, Covington, Georgia, will present an essay on physical wellness. Dr. Benjamin Kohls, a licensed professional clinical counselor at Christian Family Solutions and also professor at Bethany Lutheran College, will present an essay on emotional wellness.

SPIRITUAL WELLNESS (view the essay)

Dr. Mark Paustian

Livestream Link

Reaction by Prof. Stephen Geiger

This essay is intended to be a cool gospel drink—and in rich measure! A man rooted in the gospel will bear gospel fruits in his ministry. He must be filled with the confidence of Christ if he is to put his hand to overseeing a vibrant parish life in the years ahead. While nothing can separate the under-shepherd from the love of Christ, there is plenty in life that threatens to separate a man from the Word of Christ. This essay, therefore, will also serve as an encouragement to deepen our private devotional life. In turn, the pastor can take a devotional lead in the home, at church, and in our communities. He will be a source of Christ-centered encouragement to other brothers in our fellowship. Through this exposition of the gospel, we desire that pastors be renewed, refreshed, and restored for their lives of ministry.

PHYSICAL WELLNESS (view the essay)

Rev. Jon Scharf

Livestream Link

Reaction by Prof. David Bivens

The church in America is trending neo-gnostic with her spiritualizing tendencies. One often hears Christians relegate the human body to little more than a shell for the soul. The incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ witness to the fact that God places great value upon the human body! He has united himself to our flesh. He has redeemed the body as well as the soul. He will raise our bodies up on the Last Day. This essay will be a practical encouragement to take care of the Spirit’s temple and take to heart what we confess in Luther’s explanation of the First Article of the Creed: I believe that God created me…and that he gave me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my mind and all my abilities.

EMOTIONAL WELLNESS (view the essay)

Dr. Benjamin Kohls

Livestream Link

Resource: Professional Quality of Life Scale

Reaction by Prof. John Schuetze

Depression and anxiety, dysfunction and despair, fatigue and burnout are no stranger in our congregations. Sadly, they are also no stranger in our ministerium. This essay will explore the emotional wellbeing of the pastor. It will also tie together the previous two topics noting that our spiritual life has a direct bearing upon our emotional wellbeing and our physical ailments can often spill over into sadness or doubts in the soul. Such realizations help to lead us to the recognition that we, as God’s workmanship, are a profoundly complex creation.

The 2021 Symposium will begin in the campus auditorium at 1:10pm on Monday, September 20. Two essays will be presented after which there will be an opportunity for evening fellowship. Tuesday’s session (September 21) will begin with the third essay at 8:00am. Following the final essay, the symposium will conclude with a worship service. The symposium adjourns no later than 12:30pm.

At present, the seminary is planning on welcoming attendees for in-person participation. In addition, the essays, reactions, and worship service will be streamed via the seminary’s website for those who desire to watch remotely. Copies of printed materials will be available for download the day they are presented.

The registration fee for this year’s symposium is necessary for in-person participation only and has been significantly reduced thanks to a generous grant from the Conference of Presidents, which would like to encourage as many pastors to participate as possible. The registration fee for WELS and ELS pastors is $30 ($15 for retired pastors). Online registration will be available from July 6 to September 3, 2021, on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary website. If online registration is impossible, contact Nola Zemlicka at nola.zemlicka@wisluthsem.org or 262-242-8141.

WLS Alumni Annual Meeting – In conjunction with the annual Symposium, the WLS Alumni Annual Meeting will be held at 10:30 am on Monday, September 20, in the chapel. You may register for the alumni meeting and optional lunch (held in the WLS dining hall) on the same registration form as the Symposium.

View the 2021 Printed Schedule