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2021 National Convention Presentations

VALUE THE GIFT – Almost everyone calls life “a gift”, but far too often, far too many people (even Christians!), treat that gift as something of little worth, perhaps even to be thrown away. But Scripture teaches us that every human is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Lord and that he valued each of us enough to send his Son to redeem us. So we want to be sure to value the gift of life at all times and in every situation – even when it’s costly or inconvenient, even when the world or our feelings tell us to treat it like trash.

The presentations that we are sharing with you are informative and inspiring and will help you learn again – for our own thoughts and decision-making, and to influence others’ – how to VALUE THE GIFT of life from beginning to end, today and tomorrow.

You can expect:

  • Engaging and informative presentations
  • Topics of interest: the future of life issues; embryo adoption; the impact of suicide on the bereaved; stem cell research; and, Christian love and the New Beginnings home-for-mothers ministry.
  • Words to inform and inspire you from our experienced speakers in a concise “TED Talk” format.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:14

Opening Worship

Presentation 1


Value the Gift: Loving as We Have Been Loved

Mrs. Tabitha Schroeder, Executive Director of New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers

When we truly value the gift of life, we reflect the same love that Jesus showered on us. New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers aims to do exactly that for single mothers who have chosen life for their babies.

Tabitha Schroeder is the Executive Director at New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers. She started working with the mothers and babies at New Beginnings this past May and feels so blessed to be a part of such an important ministry. Tabitha graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Edgewood College. Prior to starting with New Beginnings, her experience had been as a psychotherapist primarily working with adults experiencing anxiety disorders, relationship concerns, or struggles with body image. Tabitha and her husband, Noah, are members of Christ the Lord Lutheran Church in Brookfield, and recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary.

Presentation 2


Dangers and Opportunities on the Life Horizon

Mr. Thomas Frey, Founder and Executive Director of the Da Vinci Institute

In 1968, Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich and his wife wrote a book titled, ”The Population Bomb.” The opening sentence to the book stated, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over, and humanity had lost.” He went on to say that, “Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in the 1970s.”

This book triggered a movement that set the stage for a series of wrong-headed decisions that are permeating society today. The demographics of the world has now shifted so dramatically that half of the world’s population is being born in six countries – 5 in Africa, and 1 in Asia.

We are now moving into an era of designer babies, artificial wombs, and pregnant grandmas. What other dangers and opportunities may await us on the life horizon?

But even in the darkest times of history, people of extraordinary character have lived among us, guiding us on a pathway to a better future. During times of great chaos, comes great opportunities!

Buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a fascinating ride! Join Futurist Thomas Frey as he takes the audience on a journey into the future that few are likely to forget.

As the Executive Director and Senior Futurist at DaVinci Institute, Tom works closely with his Board of Visionaries to develop original research studies, which enable him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. As part of the celebrity speaking circuit, Thomas continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come. His keynote talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, Disney, IBM, Federal Reserve Bank, TED, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Visa, Frito-Lay, Toshiba, Dow Chemical, KPMG, Siemens, Rockwell, Wired Magazine, Caterpillar, PepsiCo, Deloitte & Touche, Hunter Douglas, Amgen, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Korean Broadcast System, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more.

Presentation 3


An Update on Stem Cell Research

Prof. Robert Balza PhD, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Wisconsin Lutheran College

This presentation will highlight recent advances in stem cell biology as well as the ethical concerns surrounding such research. Recent attempts to use the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 to repair mutations in viable human embryos will also be explained.

Dr. Robert O. Balza, Jr. is a 1998 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran College. Before joining the faculty at WLC in 2005, he earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Medical College of Wisconsin. His primary academic interest is in the cellular and molecular control of cardiovascular development, as well as the mechanisms of coral growth and death. Balza assumed the leadership role of Dean of WLC’s College of Health Sciences in July 2019, having developed numerous dual-degree programs in the health sciences at WLC. Balza and his family live in Germantown, Wisconsin.

Presentation 4


Battling Suicide is Battling Satan

Pastor Kurt Ebert, Wings of Hope and Pastor at Christ Alone Lutheran Church, Thiensville, WI

In recent years, the issue of suicide seems to have gained some respect. While there is still some stigma involved for the survivors, it’s gotten easier to say, “She’s in a better place. He was too good for this world. We can be glad they are no longer suffering.” Physician-assisted suicide is no longer as revolutionary as it sounded in the days of Jack Kevorkian. It’s important for suffering Christians to revisit their theology on this matter and to insist, with compassion and with Scripture, that God still is the author of life as his greatest earthly gift and continues to insist his sovereign authority over its end.

Kurt Ebert has been a WELS pastor for 36 years, serving exploratory and established congregations in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wisconsin. He currently serves at Christ Alone in Mequon, WI, just down the hill from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. His other passions include camping, fishing, hunting, and woodworking, and working on his “happy place” in the northwoods of Wisconsin. He and his wife Connie have been blessed with four children and four granddaughters. Losing their youngest son Nathan to suicide was an agonizing turning point in their lives. Together they have worked to provide encouragement to those who likewise grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide through a local support group called Wings of Hope.

Presentation 5


The Embryo Adoption Experience

Mrs. Leah Bongard, Mukwonago, WI

In Genesis 1:28 God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Most married couples desire to do just that… but what if you can’t? The Bongard’s journey through infertility and the desire to honor God and his truth that life begins at conception led them to the wonderful, unique blessing of embryo adoption. Leah will share that experience with you and raise awareness of this pro-life answer to infertility.

Leah Bongard was born in Minnesota and lived in Utah and Colorado. Yet, she’s lived most of her life in Wisconsin, and she and her family call Elkhorn, Wisconsin, home. Bongard was a former travel agent and police officer and is now a legal assistant. Her husband, Matt, is a retired police officer. The Bongards have been married for 20 years. They are blessed with two beautiful children, Madison, 19, and Isaac, 11. Madison, who is deaf, is a sophomore at UW Madison, and Isaac, whom they adopted as an embryo, currently attends the 6th grade at First Lutheran, Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Leah likes reading, running, and relaxing at their cottage near Crivitz, Wisconsin.

Closing Devotion

Sponsors & Vendors

New Beginnings logo
Life Challenges Podcast logo
Thrivent logo
Institutional Ministries
Christian Family Solutions
WELS Church Extension Fund logo
Love in Action logo
Kingdom Workers logo
WELS Foundations
Wings of Hope logo
Lutheran Girl Pioneers

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