On January 29, 2017, approximately 175 people gathered in a morning grand opening service and 200 people gathered in the afternoon at The Word in Stevens Point to give glory to God on the day of its dedication. “The Word” is a new multi-site location which sprung from Divine Word in Plover, Wis. The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (which ranks near the top of WELS student attendance at a public university) is less than a mile away from this former American Legion Hall, turned bar, turned night club turned into a place where Christ crucified and risen will be proclaimed to young and old alike!
The idea was born back in 2011 at the School of Outreach in Little Chute, Wis. As our congregation pondered its next steps moving forward in reaching the lost and nurturing the found, the reality became clear that Stevens Point was the largest city in Wisconsin without a WELS church and the University could be a congregation all to itself with the amount of WELS students who attend. This led to many surveys and meetings and committees which culminated in the calling of a second pastor to focus on campus ministry and outreach (which God answered in May of 2015 through the assignment committee at the Seminary with Pastor Jim Roecker) as well as the start of a search for property in Stevens Point near campus.
In fall of 2015 we were presented with the opportunity to purchase the current property in downtown Stevens Point, which had been abandoned for nearly five years. While certainly much work was needed, the potential was definitely there to turn a 10,000 square foot night club into a worship area and campus center. Partly through a gracious grant from the WELS Campus Ministry Committee, the building was purchased and renovation began in July 2016.
Many thanks need to also go to our partners at WELS Church Extension Fund and the Board for Home Missions. The one time and ongoing grants and subsidy we have received have helped immensely to make this vision a reality. Our collegians now have a beautiful new space to call their own. They are taking on roles in Sunday morning worship and are enjoying their campus center where they come to study, do laundry, make some pizzas, have a cup of coffee, relax and watch a movie or the big game.
Finally, we thank God for YOU, the members of the WELS, for your well wishes, prayers, and congregational mission offerings. Here in Stevens Point is a small glimpse of how and where those dollars are put to work for the present and future of our Synod. If you’re ever in the area, feel free to stop in and look around! Join me in praising God from whom all blessings flow!
By: Rev. Scott Wolfram
Divine Word, Plover, Wis. and The Word, Stevens Point, Wis.
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