At its recent convention, the Organization of WELS Lutheran Seniors (OWLS) gave the Commission on Special Ministries about $54,000 to support the European civilian chaplaincy ministry. One hundred eighty people attended the convention, held Oct. 7-10 in Wausau, Wis.

OWLS has been helping support the European Chaplaincy, which is funded largely by special gifts, since 2003 and has raised more than half a million dollars for this program over that time. Mr. Dale Markgraf, the OWLS convention director, says that the OWLS members have developed a sense of ownership and connection with the European civilian chaplaincy after supporting it for so many years. He says, “The military people need to hear God’s Word and this ministry provides that, in addition to serving the lay people in Europe.”

The convention, under the theme “We have received grace upon grace,” included presentations on memories from World War II, WELS Prison Ministry, Biblical Nazareth, and an “arm chair” tour of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Markgraf says, “I think people enjoy the programs. We try to hit several areas – spiritual growth, cultural growth, and personal growth.”

Also announced at this year’s convention, long-time OWLS Executive Director Mr. Lester Ring, will be retiring from the position. The volunteer position has not yet been filled, but the organization is considering options to set the course for OWLS in the future.

“This year’s OWLS Convention was like a family reunion of active, dedicated WELS retirees who still want to grow, learn and be involved in the Lord’s work and the world around them. OWLS members have a passion for spreading the gospel and an eagerness to hear about the ministry of their church. It was great to meet old friends and make new ones,” says Rev. Jim Behringer, director of Special Ministries.

OWLS, a WELS service organization for those age 55 and up, has about 1,350 members in 50 chapters throughout the United States. The next OWLS convention will be held in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., in October 2014.