In 2014, Divine Peace, Garland, Texas, began discussing the idea of starting a second congregation in the neighboring community of Rockwall. This area northeast of Dallas is booming, and many families were traveling from the Rockwall area to Garland to attend Divine Peace. Rather than start a separate daughter congregation, Divine Peace decided to become a multi-site congregation.
John Hering, pastor of Divine Peace, notes, “Initially there was some hesitation from members wondering how it would be possible to start a new location and survive. But, after clearly explaining that we would not be two churches but one church at two locations, the tensions eased and folks supported the effort.”
In 2016, after Divine Peace conducted community surveys and a demographic study of the area and demonstrated that a strong core of its members would support ministry at a second site in Rockwall, the WELS Board for Home Missions voted to support the mission effort. In May 2016, Gunnar Ledermann, a new graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, was assigned to serve as the second pastor at Divine Peace, with the main responsibility of establishing the Rockwall location.
Soon, those in Rockwall were worshiping at a wedding chapel just off of the town square. In January of this year, Divine Peace bought the wedding chapel and its property thanks to support from WELS Church Extension Fund.
“Now that Divine Peace has a second permanent location for ministry, a new door has opened for reaching our community,” says Ledermann, who is excited about the potential the location has for serving as a gathering place for the community.
Mark Drezdzon and his wife, Michelle, joined Divine Peace in 2013 after completing Bible information classes with Hering. Mark currently serves as Divine Peace’s president. He says, “ ‘One church—two locations’ brings challenges and blessings alike. One of the biggest challenges was splitting our congregational resources and talents between two locations. We have been blessed with many talented and gifted members to cover things, like musicians for all of our services and teachers for our Kingdom Kids Bible study sessions. It takes time to coordinate everything between the two locations, but it has also brought members closer together. But most important, having two locations gives us the chance to achieve the Divine Peace mission—to bring the true Word of God to our community—in two communities.”
Hering agrees. “Multi-site gives you the joy of sharing the gospel with more people in more places while remaining one church.”
“Stay tuned,” concludes Drezdzon. “With the way growth continues in the Northeast Dallas Metroplex, we might be ‘one church—three locations’ in the not too distant future!”
To learn more about multi-site congregations, consider attending the WELS National Multi-Site Conference. WELS Home Missions supports congregations that are establishing ministries in new locations through both multi-site and mother/daughter efforts. To see how a congregation is reaching out by daughtering congregations in the Las Vegas area, watch the May WELS Connection.
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Volume 105, Number 5
Issue: May 2018
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