New Starts and Enhancements: 2020
Every spring, the Board for Home Missions (BHM) and the BHM Executive Committee prioritize requests for new missions and ministry enhancements. In 2020, 13 requests were received. Because of the financial uncertainty due to the pandemic, the Board for Home Missions delayed the authorization of immediate funding until their Fall 2020 meeting. At that meeting, the Board for Home Missions authorized funding for three new starts and two restarts, and additionally approved one unsubsidized mission. Unsubsidized mission status means that direct funding from Home Missions is not provided, but the congregation receives assistance through their district mission board, mission counselors, and synodical support staff and have access to loans and grants from the Board for Home Missions and WELS Church Extension Fund.
2020 Home Missions New Starts:
- Amarillo, Tex. – Located 130 miles from the nearest WELS church, a group of 15 WELS members form the core group reaching out in Amarillo, Tex. The WELS pastor from Lubbock comes to Amarillo twice a month to serve the members with Word and sacrament. The prayer is that a full-time pastor will have many opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ so that this small group may blossom into a growing church.
- North Liberty, Iowa –North Liberty, Iowa, is a multi-site ministry with Good Shepherd in Cedar Rapids. The new mission site is between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and has the highest growth rate of any city in Iowa. A dedicated core group of 20 members call North Liberty their home campus. They began worshiping in July 2017 at the North Liberty Community Center, the heart of their community. Home Missions funding will allow Good Shepherd to call a second pastor to help their outreach efforts.
- West San Antonio, Tex. – The new mission start in West San Antonio is being sponsored by Our Savior across town. Ten families from Our Savior make up the committed core group. A retired pastor was called to assist the mission for the first year, and they began worship in March 2020. They held three in-person services at Cole Elementary School with an average of 40 people in attendance before the pandemic hit. They will be calling a full-time pastor to lead this multi-site mission location.
2020 Home Missions – Enhancements:
- Burlington, Iowa (Unsubsidized) – The core group at Our Savior in Burlington has rewritten their ministry plan and are actively reaching out with the gospel to their own members who have fallen away as well as new faces in their heavily unchurched community. As an unsubsidized mission they will have support from their district mission board and have access to loans and special outreach grants from the Board for Home Missions and WELS Church Extension Fund.
- Dix Hills, N.Y. (Restart) – Grace of God is the only WELS church on Long Island in New York. Members have stepped up and taken over various ministry responsibilities, including growing the church’s outreach and evangelism efforts, after their full-time pastor retired in 2013. They are now looking for Home Missions support as they call a new home missionary and renovate Grace of God’s existing facilities to better serve their community with the gospel.
- Santa Clarita, Calif. (Restart) – A dedicated core group of 10 families have committed to restarting their current congregation, Calvary, in the third largest city in Los Angeles County. Calvary already has its own facilities and property and has survived the past ten years without a full-time pastor. Home Missions funding will allow them to call a full-time pastor and renovate Calvary’s facilities as they renew their commitment to bring the truth of the gospel to the fastest growing community in the metro Los Angeles area.