Eligibility & Enrollment


In order to be eligible to participate in the WELS Pension Plan, a worker must be a called or synodically paid lay worker in the WELS.

Definition of Called Worker

A called worker is a person who has received and accepted a formal charge from the Synod or an eligible Sponsoring Organization and meets the following criteria:

  • Is a pastor, teacher, called professor, missionary, synodically certified staff minister, provisionally certified staff minister, or elective vicar; and
  • Is serving at least 20 hours or more per week; and
  • Is listed as a called worker in the yearbook of the WELS

Definition of Lay Worker

A lay worker is a person who meets the following criteria:

  • Is not a called worker;
  • Is listed as an employee who qualifies as a lay worker on the payroll records of WELS, Martin Luther College, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Luther Preparatory School, or Michigan Lutheran Seminary; and
  • Is not an independent contractor, temporary employee, seasonal employee, student intern, or vicar

Note that lay workers hired (or re-hired) beginning January 1, 2015 are not eligible for participation in the WELS Pension Plan.


If a worker meets the above eligibility rules, enrollment in the WELS Pension Plan is mandatory (as approved by the synod in convention) upon the worker’s completion of an hour of service as a called worker or lay worker.

Enrollment in the WELS Pension Plan is automatic for called workers upon acceptance of a formal call issued by WELS. Called workers do not need to complete an enrollment form to begin participation in the WELS Pension Plan. Upon accepting a new call to a new calling body, the called worker’s participation in the WELS Pension Plan will continue automatically and will be transferred to the new location.

Definition of Eligible Sponsoring Organization

The Synod, Member Congregations and Affiliated Agencies (as defined below).

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

The individual congregations listed in the Directory of Congregations in the annual Yearbook of the Synod.

Organizations listed in the annual Yearbook of the Synod, and include Northwestern Publishing House, Synodical Schools, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Synodically affiliated Lutheran high schools, and Synodical and Synodically affiliated charitable, social, and educational organizations.