One of the most challenging responsibilities of our WELS Missions administration is to work with a national church body, almost always one that WELS Missions started, to figure out issues like national workers’ support and worship/ministry facilities. These two issues are inseparably paired in our mission efforts in Bulgaria.
More than two decades ago, WELS and the Bulgarian Lutheran Church purchased a significant property in Sofia. This lovely building that just happens to be situated in a lovely neighborhood has succumbed to the ravages of deferred maintenance. But the building still has value. If not as a place to host aggressive outreach in an historic neighborhood in Sofia, then certainly, if it were sold, to provide years of financial support to Bulgarian pastors working in other cities.
The chairman of the WELS Europe Administrative Committee, Rev. Michael Ewart, assembled a team to go to Sofia to meet with the pastors of the Bulgarian Lutheran Church to discuss a way to manage mission resources. Pastor Ewart invited his new administrative committee member, Gary Thoma, and Board for World Mission’s operations director, Sean Young, and the PSI’s E. Allen Sorum to be part of his team. The plan that came out of this meeting with the Bulgarian pastors and the WELS visitation team seeks to sell the property as soon as possible for as much as possible given its maintenance liabilities. A portion of the proceeds of this sale will be used to provide ongoing support to the Bulgarian pastors. The meetings also produced a commitment to coordinate continuing education for our Bulgarian pastors to support them in their challenging mission and to step up efforts to provide training for more Bulgarian spiritual leaders through the collaboration of the PSI.
The PSI’s part in providing gospel instruction and encouragement will be coordinated with Missionary Luke Wolfgramm who is based in Novosibirsk, Russia. Our sister church bodies in Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, Ukraine, and beyond are carrying out the Great Commission in challenging circumstances. One of the most precious expressions of WELS fellowship and partnership with our brothers and sisters in these places is ever-deeper theological training and heartfelt personal encouragement. God grant his blessings upon the leadership of our WELS Missions and worker training administrators to provide this encouragement. God grant a spirit in WELS Christians in North America to support all of our gospel partners in every corner of this planet!
Professor E. Allen Sorum is the seminary’s PSI Director.