New Starts and Enhancements: 2018-2019

Typically the Board for Home Missions (BHM) is only able to approve new mission starts and enhancements at their spring meeting. This fall, the BHM was able to approve an additional three new mission starts thanks to a special $1 million grant from the WELS Church Extension Fund, Inc (CEF). Strong financials and a prosperous year have allowed CEF’s board to approve this special grant while continuing to provide a sound investment vehicle for WELS members and congregations.

Home Missions New Starts – Fall 2018

New congregations are being supported in:

  • Bluffton, S.C., which has developed through the efforts of Risen Savior, Pooler, Ga. The new mission in Bluffton is likely to be part of a multi-site ministry effort with Risen Savior. This effort is spearheaded by Eric Janke, a 2018 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., who deferred an assignment due to his wife’s three-year residency to become a doctor. Janke has worked with Risen Savior’s pastor and members to develop a strong ministry plan for this new mission site.
  • Mansfield, Ohio,where a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation is closing and contacted WELS to see if our synod might be interested in opening a mission in this area. The new mission will be buying the land and building of the former LCMS church. Some of the church’s members are planning to join the new WELS mission and are working with WELS members in the area to launch this new WELS congregation.
  • Richland Center, Wis.,which is part of a multi-site effort being supported by St. John, Hillpoint, and Trinity, Lime Ridge, both in Wisconsin. St. John and Trinity currently share one pastor, who has been exploring the viability of a mission in Richland Center. The area seems well suited for a WELS mission start, and members of St. John and Trinity are excited to support this effort.

Every spring, the Board for Home Missions (BHM) and BHM Executive Committee prioritize requests for new Home Missions and ministry enhancements. In 2018, 23 requests were received. On April 13, 2018, the BHM approved support for seven new mission congregations as well as support to enhance mission-minded ministry at seven other congregations.

Home Missions New Starts – Spring 2018

Reno, Nev.—Two area congregations are partnering to start this congregation in the Northern Valleys area of greater Reno. On March 25, 2018, the first worship service was held; 63 people attended.

Phoenix, Ariz.—Crosswalk, Phoenix, is opening a second site to reach out into downtown Phoenix.

Joplin, Mo.—A strong core of WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod members from the two nearest churches are helping support this mission.

Brandon, S.D.—Near Sioux Falls, this new congregation includes core members from two WELS churches and an Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregation.

Milwaukee, Wis.—Grace in downtown Milwaukee, one of WELS’ original congregations, is establishing a new location in the area known as the Third Ward.

Two new multi-site starts are being subsidized by their original congregations. Home Missions will provide assistance through its district mission boards, mission counselors, and synodical support staff but not provide direct funding. These include:

Hobart, Wis.—Mount Olive, Suamico, Wis., is starting a second site in Hobart. The congregation is calling a second pastor to begin this new ministry.

Horicon, Wis.—Members of St. John’s, Juneau, Wis., see an opportunity to reach out in nearby Horicon, where 90 members of St. John’s live. Saturday worship services began in Horicon in June 2018.

Home Missions Enhancements – Spring 2018

Crown of Life, Corona, Calif.—This multi-site mission currently has four different locations for worship. Home Mission funding is supporting a third pastor assigned from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Faith, Anchorage, Alaska—A second bilingual pastor will allow Faith to enhance their Hispanic ministry.

Grace, Seattle, Wash.—Two congregations will be combining to restart their ministry in the heart of Seattle. Funding will allow a full-time pastor to again serve at Grace.

Ascension, Harrisburg, Penn.—Remaining members of Ascension are ready to restart their congregation. They have demonstrated they are willing to take on ministry responsibilities and support outreach efforts that will be guided by their next pastor.

Shepherd of the Hills, Knoxville, Tenn.—A group of members are ready to restart their congregation after a longer-term pastoral vacancy. With the congregation back on its feet, they hope to begin a preschool ministry in order to jump start their outreach efforts.

Trinity, Waukesha, Wis.—Trinity hopes to reach out to a large population of Hispanics in their community by bringing in a bilingual pastor to lead the ministry.

Epiphany and First, Racine, Wis.—These two Racine congregations currently operate a joint Lutheran Elementary school. Home Mission funding will allow the school to call a staff minister or teacher to coordinate outreach efforts to prospective church families.