Keynote Presentations

Work. No one truly likes it, right? It’s a necessary evil to be able to survive in a world dominated by money, position, and power. One of the first questions asked on a first date or in the cursory introduction of an individual proves that point: “So, what do you do for a living?” For a Christian, the answer is easy: “I serve.” Luther, in his exquisitely-crafted, “The Freedom of a Christian” (1530), reveals the liberated life that a Christian enjoy: The Christian is free…to serve. “The Christian is a completely free lord of all, subject to none; The Christian is a completely dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” In whatever vocations you may be blessed to live––parent, spouse, child, sibling, citizen, church member, employer, employee, and so many more––Christians wear the masks of God. When serving your neighbor, you are not only the vessel God uses to provide his earthly and spiritual “daily bread” for which we ask in the Lord’s Prayer, but we are privileged to serve our Lord himself (cf. Matthew 25:31-46), who hides behind the masks of our neighbors. This presentation will, Lord-willing, strive to foster a joy in and a recognition of the freedom you have through whatever vocations in which you may serve.
John the Baptist prepared God’s people for the coming of Jesus Christ by preaching repentance. Our Lord himself commands us to repent so that we may receive his gracious forgiveness. The Scriptures constantly urge us to turn away from ourselves and away from our sins and trust only in Christ for forgiveness and salvation. Yet, although the Scripture is clear, the history of the Christian Church on earth demonstrates how heresy has distorted the true teaching and practice of repentance. This presentation will highlight some of the major false practices of repentance and how God used Martin Luther to restore the true teaching and practice of repentance. This presentation will also demonstrate how a proper understanding of repentance is essential to a proper understanding of the doctrine of justification.
“Our churches teach that ceremonies ought to be observed that may be observed without sin…Yet, the people are taught that consciences are not to be burdened as though observing such things was necessary for salvation.” Two statements from Article XV of the Augsburg Confession that might seem to stand opposed to each other. “Observe rites and orders in the church but don’t demand rites and orders in the church.” So what does that mean for us living in Christian Freedom? It means we are free. We are free from the question of “how” and free to ask the question “why” in regards to worship. When we establish the “why” we can move forward with the “how.” This presentation will not deal so much with the freedom that we have in Christ (that is established) but rather together we will seek to let the “why” drive the “how” in worship.
“It is altogether necessary for salvation to submit to the pope.” With these words Pope Boniface VIII made clear the intended role of the papacy in the life of Christians everywhere. The papacy today still requires such submission when it declares in canon law that there is no appealing a papal decision and that the pope is a universal pastor of all Christians who can infallibly pronounce upon faith and morals binding the conscience of all Christians.

How revolutionary then when the Lutheran Church says, “The pope is the very Antichrist” and that he rules not by divine law but only by human law. How revolutionary then when the Lutheran Church makes demands of the pope, “Let us preach the Gospel and then we will treat you as our shepherd.”

In this presentation, we will look at Luther’s developing relationship with the pope and see how it parallels our own. We will see the role that the gospel of Christ plays in that relationship and how it is the three solas, grace, faith, and Scripture alone that must mark any shepherding ministry among us, papal or otherwise.

Speaker Bios

Pastor Nathanael Seelow has served the saints as pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Kearney since August 2014, following terms as a full-time instructor at Great Plains Lutheran High School in Watertown, South Dakota, and a vicar in Eagle River, Wisconsin at Christ Lutheran Church and in Phelps, Wisconsin at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Pastor Seelow is a 2003 graduate of Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and received his Master of Divinity degree from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin in 2007. He completed a second master’s degree with honors, in Education, from Martin Luther College in 2013. He served on the WELS Dakota-Montana District Worship Committee, and currently serves on the Nebraska District Worship Committee.

During his time in Watertown, Pastor Seelow also met and married his wife, Megan. They were married in 2012, and are blessed with the gift of two sons–Judah and Ezra.

Pastor Reckzin has been serving St. John’s Lutheran Church in Oak Creek (Oakwood) since June, 2000. Previously he served at Peace Lutheran in Sun Prairie, WI and Atonement Lutheran in Baltimore, MD. Pastor Reckzin currently serves as chairman of the Shoreland Pastors Conference. He has served on the Shoreland Lutheran High School Board of Directors. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Lisa. They have visited over 42 US states and about a dozen foreign countries. Pastor Reckzin also enjoys cooking, history, reading, y, por supuesto, la música popular de España.
Pastor Gregory Lyon is a 2006 graduate of Martin Luther College and he earned his M. Div. in 2010. He spent one year as a vicar at Abiding Word in Houston, TX. He has served as a campus pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran College since August of 2015. Prior to that he served God’s people at Peace Lutheran Church and School in Sun Prairie, WI. While at Peace he served on the Board of Regents at Lakeside Lutheran High School and had a brief role as the chairman of Adult Discipleship for the Western Wisconsin District of the Wisconsin Synod. Now at WLC, he focuses primarily in the areas of worship, Bible study, and pastoral counseling. He has also taught entry level theology classes in the undergraduate and adult study programs. He is currently pursuing an advanced degree in the area of pastoral counseling and taking classes in crisis, trauma, and suicide prevention.

When not at school, he enjoys time with his family: my wife Amy and three kids, Samuel, Elliana, and Addison. His family is actively involved at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls where he and his wife serve as Sunday School Superintendents.

Pastor Benjamin Tomczak has served the saints as pastor at Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Sioux Falls since January 2013. Previously he served as pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Duncanville, Texas, and as vicar in Asheville, North Carolina at Living Savior Lutheran Church. He will speak at the 2017 Return to Wittenberg “Liberated” conference on how Martin Luther and the Lutheran Church have been liberated from the power of the Antichrist.

After graduating from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Pastor Tomczak earned a Master of Divinity degree from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. He served on the Governing Board of Michigan Lutheran Seminary and as the secretary of the South Central District. He currently serves on the District Worship Committee of the Dakota-Montana District and the Wisconsin Synod’s Commission on Inter-Church Relations. In 2016 he was one of the essayists at the Symposium on Biblical Hermeneutics at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. He also frequently reviews books for The Shepherd’s Study, a blog “for busy pastors”.

Pastor Tomczak married up when he was united to his wife, Kristen, and he has four children: Katherine, Samuel, Hannah, and Rachel.

Pastor Johann Caauwe was born in Fremont, Nebraska, but grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota. He is the product of the Lutheran school system, from kindergarten through high school. He began his formal training for the pastoral ministry at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the college in the spring of 2001. In 2005, he graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. He served as pastoral assistant to the district president in Modesto, California for three years after graduation from the Seminary. Pastor Caauwe has served Trinity Lutheran Church in El Paso, Texas since 2008, and is Circuit Pastor of the Rio Grande Circuit, as well as civilian chaplain to Ft. Bliss, Texas, one of the nation’s largest military installations.

Pastor Caauwe has been married to the former Sara Kassulke since 2001 and the Lord has blessed them with nine children.

Mr. Daniel Baker is an organist at St. John’s Lutheran Church (Oakwood) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where he also serves on the fellowship and evangelism committees. He also served as a lay delegate to the 2013 WELS Convention while he was a member of St. James in Milwaukee, WI. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he studied history, and is currently pursuing a degree in parish music at Concordia University Wisconsin. He has been a church musician since 2009 and has studied and written extensively about the Lutheran Liturgy, both colloquially and academically. Mr. Baker is serving as the music director and organist for our conference.