Tomorrow's Ministry Begins Here

The current number of pastoral vacancies in WELS is over 100, but WELS is adding only 25-35 new pastors per year.  At this rate, we aren’t going to be able to supply enough pastors for our synod’s needs. In addition, more pastors are retiring than joining the ministry. This will add very quickly to the number of congregations with pastoral vacancies.

We need to be thinking about tomorrow’s ministry today. On average it takes 12 years to go from a high school freshman to a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary graduate. A majority of those graduates come from our synod’s two preparatory schools. As one of those prep schools, Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) is working hard to keep encouraging WELS young people to consider lives of service to our Lord Jesus in the public ministry. To do this we continue seeking the prayers and support of God’s people.

Education expenses increase at a rate above national inflation due to the rising costs of energy and health care coverage. Another factor affecting schools today is the need to provide technology training so that our future pastors and teachers are able to function in an increasingly technological world. Please consider how you can help MLS grow and flourish as one of our synod’s two prep schools. The future of WELS ministry begins here.


How did it come about that WELS has a preparatory high school in Michigan?

It began back in the second half of the nineteenth century when the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Michigan saw the importance of training their own pastors so that they would continue to have well-trained confessional pastors for the growing number of congregations in their synod. They began Michigan Lutheran Seminary in 1885 and it operated as a pastor training seminary in Saginaw, Mich., from 1887 until 1907.

In 1910, when the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Michigan joined in a federation with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other synods, it was decided the school that had been their pastor training seminary would now become a “progymnasium,” or preparatory school, for the college in Watertown, Wis., (now Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn.) and then the seminary in Wauwatosa, Wis., (now Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis.). The name Michigan Lutheran Seminary was kept to call to mind the original purpose of the school.

For more than 100 years an average of 45 to 50 percent of high school graduates from MLS have gone on to study for public ministry in WELS. Other graduates use their gospel-based education in secular professions and through active involvement in their congregations.
Today MLS graduates, together with graduates from her sister school, Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis., account for more than half of the pastors in our synod and about one-third of our teachers.

The purpose of MLS from the beginning has been to provide the full-time called workers God’s people need to share God’s Word and to help them reach out with the gospel to all nations.


Our students will tell you what MLS means for them and for the future of WELS ministry. The following students decided to pursue full-time ministry after attending MLS.

“As an eighth grader, I was not convinced I should attend MLS. I had absolutely no interest in the public ministry. As I completed grade school, I didn’t see anything in myself that even began to hint at the possibility of a career in the ministry. I wasn’t social; I wasn’t particularly smart; and I had absolutely no background in music. I would not have been able to attend MLS without major financial help; in reality, my family couldn’t really afford it with financial help. Regardless, I went to MLS for my freshman year of high school.

What happened to me during my first few years of school was unbelievable. I learned that I was smarter than I thought; I learned that I had the ability to connect with people; I learned that I had an innate musical ability I never realized before. Really, the summation of this is that I realized I do have the abilities to serve in the ministry. MLS brought out a side of me that I never could have seen in a typical American high school.

Now, as a senior, I am on my way to attend Martin Luther College. Could that have happened had I not been able to afford MLS? It’s not even in the realm of possibility. I’ve said before that MLS is “the biggest stroke of luck in my life.” That’s not really true, though. It’s God’s guiding hand creating a path in my life to serve him. He used faithful teachers, pastors, and friends to make this possible. Of course, my parents also played an instrumental role in this by paying for this education. However, there is no way they could have paid the full price for it. I confidently say now that it was worth it.“   —  JOSH BARNETT
“Ever heard the pastor talk in sermons about how you can help further the Lord’s work? It used to kind of just sit in the back of my head and I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I give money and help out at church.” But what I didn’t realize is that what he meant was to put me on the track toward the ministry. I have to admit that it was not my first thought when I arrived at MLS, but God has blessed me so much through this school.

I have sat down and talked to many of the teachers at this school, and they are the greatest trainers I could’ve asked for. As of junior year I have decided to continue my training at Martin Luther College, and then in Mequon. I really doubt that would have been my decision if I had gone to another school.

When MLS was in danger of closing down some years ago, I didn’t think much of it, but now I realize I would have so much less appreciation for what God has given to me. It would be a shame to see a school as great as this one go to waste. It has so much potential and it produces so many pastors and teachers that this world needs so badly. I thank God every day for the path he has put me on and I know that he has put all these people and this school here for the purpose of serving him and spreading his message.“  —  ISAAC SCHAEWE

With your prayers and support, MLS can . . .

    • As the cost of tuition continues to rise, so do the number families who can use financial aid. Every student who attends MLS learns about God’s Word every day to encourage and prepare them for work in his kingdom.
    • The exterior of the dormitory building needs repairs; workspaces can be consolidated for efficiency and cost savings; and our 20-year-old bus fleet could use an update.
    • Currently, MLS is operating without any reserves so that any fluctuations in enrollment can have a devastating effect on our budget. The lack of reserves also does not allow MLS to respond to needs that come up during the biennium or to be proactive in maintaining the best school we can for our synod’s future called workers.

The Michigan Lutheran Seminary family thanks you for your generous support of our program to begin the training on the high school level of pastors, missionaries, and teachers for the future of our beloved WELS and its congregations and schools. If you would like to learn more or need assistance with a special gift to the “Tomorrow’s Ministry Begins Here” campaign, contact your local WELS Christian giving counselor.