In 2023, the Board for Home Missions (BHM) and the BHM Executive Committee has approved 20 new home mission starts and enhancements.
These are the first new mission starts and enhancements approved towards our synod’s goal of starting 100 missions and enhancing 75 ministries in the next 10 years! Learn more at wels100in10.net.
New home mission starts
- Bentonville, Arkansas: Bentonville, the headquarters of Walmart, is anticipated to see 35% population growth in the next three years. There are only two churches of any denomination in the target area of southwest Bentonville/Centerton. The 12-person core group (pictured) has been active in the community and looks forward to planting a new church in an area with no current WELS presence.
- Boston, Massachusetts: Boston, a city with 4.3 million souls, is known as “America’s College Town” with 53 colleges and universities. The closest WELS church to the urban center is a 90-minute or more drive to the south. This unique urban mission would be modeled after church plants in Atlanta and New York City and could have potential for college and cross-cultural ministry.
- Cincinnati, Ohio: Beautiful Savior in Cincinnati, Ohio, is starting a second site in the Oakley and Hype Park neighborhoods, just northeast of downtown. A core group of 20 members have been meeting regularly for fellowship, Bible study, and outreach since Fall 2022. This new location would put Beautiful Savior closer to three colleges in the area, opening opportunities for Campus Ministry growth.
- Idaho Falls, Idaho: The greater Idaho Falls area is experiencing tremendous growth due to jobs, quality of life, and cost of living. The Mormon church has a strong historical presence in the area, and the 11-person core group has been working with Truth in Love Ministries to understand how to best reach out into this demographic.
- Kalispell, Montana: Kalispell is considered the fastest growing micropolitan city (10,000-50,000 population) in the United States and is 100 miles away from the nearest WELS church. The dedicated core group has been gathering for worship on a regular basis for years, first in private homes and currently in a motel conference room. The pastor at Living Savior in Missoula, the closest WELS church over 100 miles away, leads onsite worship twice a month while lay leaders organize other weekly Bible studies and outreach events.
- Kronenwetter, Wisconsin: Five WELS churches in the greater Wausau, WI, area are on board to support a new mission in Kronenwetter. This growing community south of Wausau is home to Northland Lutheran High School, which will house this new church and provide mission-minded staff and students to support the outreach effort. The 22-member core group has been meeting monthly since December 2021 for Bible study and mission planning.
- Marquette, Michigan: Marquette serves as the hub of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, and 52% of the people in and around Marquette do not have a home church or attend a church. It is also home to 7,000 students at Northern Michigan University, a ripe opportunity for a Campus Ministry program. There is currently a group of WELS members residing in town, and many students remain in the area after graduation.
- North Collin County, Texas: A core group of 15 members from Atonement in Plano, Tex., are starting a new church in North Collin County, a northern suburb of Dallas. Two of the top five fastest growing communities in the United States are in this target area. Divine Savior Ministries has committed to providing guidance and resources to the new mission and are planning build a Divine Savior Academy by year five of the mission start.
- Panama City Beach, Florida: Amazing Grace in Panama City is looking to expand west and start a second site in the greater Panama City Beach area. The core group of about 12 members has been meeting regularly for over two years as they make plans to reach a growing retirement population and the young families that serve the aging population and tourists.
- Buffalo, Wyoming: A group of 27 WELS members living in the Buffalo area have been worshiping weekly in the local civic center since March 2020, led by the pastor from Lord of Lords in Casper, Wyo. Core group members have started three different Bible study/book study opportunities outside of Sunday worship and Bible study and are actively inviting friends to join.
- Beautiful Savior – Des Moines, Iowa (Restart): Beautiful Savior in West Des Moines, Iowa, is looking to restart their ministry with Home Missions support. They have an existing worship facility and parsonage in the rapidly growing suburb of West Des Moines. The 95-member church has reinvigorated their outreach efforts and been blessed with adult confirmations and baptisms as a result, and they’re looking forward to continued growth with a new home missionary at the helm.
- Christ the King – Port Charlotte, Florida: Christ the King in Port Charlotte, Fla., is looking for short-term Home Missions support to call a full-time pastor to serve this recharged church of 79 members. Hurricane Ian forced members and their retired pastor to pivot to recovery and clean-up efforts, but it didn’t squash their spirit or determination to do what they could in such trying times. Outreach potential is tremendous as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to move to the area in upcoming years.
- Divine Savior – Sienna, Texas: Divine Savior in Sienna, Tex., plans to call a second staff minister or pastor to assist in youth and family ministry. Divine Savior Academy currently has 280 students enrolled with 360 anticipated next school year. A second full-time worker will help them connect school families with the church, as many school families do not currently have a church home.
- Fairview – Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Fairview in Milwaukee, Wis., is partnering with A City for God, a WELS para-synodical in the greater-Milwaukee area, to assist in their outreach efforts. A City for God has two chaplains who are at the Hope Semper and Hope Prima schools. WELS Home Missions is financially supporting these two chaplains to use half of their time to do outreach to the Hope school families they are already working with to connect them to ministries at Fairview.
- Good Shepherd – Midland, Texas (Unsubsidized): Good Shepherd in Midland, Tex., has been existence since 1976, but it was only recently that they called their first full-time pastor to help reach out to the 149,000 individuals in this growing West Texas community. The 19 members of the core group are financially self-supporting but working to increase outreach efforts in their area.
- Our Redeemer – Ladysmith, Wisconsin (Unsubsidized): Our Redeemer in Ladysmith, Wis., while financially self-supporting, is looking for Home Missions guidance as they look to reach out with the gospel to 50% of their community population with no religious involvement. Unsubsidized mission status provides them access to assistance through their district mission board, mission counselors, and synodical support staff plus access to loans and grants.
- Mount Calvary – Redding/Anderson, California: Mount Calvary in Redding and Faith in Anderson merged into one unified congregation worshiping at two locations and received unsubsidized mission status in the spring of 2022. As their ministry continued to grow, the Board for Home Missions was asked to provide additional enhancement funding to call a full-time staff minister who could help make the most of the many gospel outreach opportunities being presented.
- Christ the King – Palm Coast, Florida: Christ the King in Palm Coast, Fla., will receive short-term Home Missions support to call a campus pastor to reach out to school families in its growing Christ the King Academy. The academy currently has 279 students enrolled, of which 125 students have no church home. This new missionary will also assist Christ the King in meeting the anticipated growth of the Palm Coast community, which is expected to double in size in the next ten years.
- Hope in Deerfield – Deerfield, Wisconsin (Unsubsidized): St. John in the Town of Lake Mills started a second site called Hope in Deerfield in fall 2021 with support from other local congregations. Members worship weekly at a funeral home in town and are committed to reaching out with the gospel to their community members. Unsubsidized mission status gives Hope in Deerfield access to grants from WELS Home Missions and Church Extension Fund (CEF) as well as support from the district mission board and mission counselor.
- Cross of Christ – Las Cruces, New Mexico (Unsubsidized): Cross of Christ started in a member’s home 11 years ago. As an unsubsidized mission, they will have Home Missions support through their district mission board and mission counselor and access to special grants from Home Missions and WELS Church Extension Fund. The congregation has 73 members and owns land along a major access road where most of the city’s new development is taking place and where hundreds of young families are moving.
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