Mission History in Dominican Republic
1980’s: WELS Missionary from Puerto Rico has contact with Dominicans and a study is done on the feasibility of WELS entering the country.
1992: A WELS Missionary and layman from Puerto Rico visit. A survey of the country is done and prospects are visited.
1993: Lift High the Cross funds become available for the work. First missionary family arrives in Santiago to begin exploratory work. Bible Classes begin in 4 areas of Santiago with large attendances. First worship service is held in a boxing ring.
1994: First floor of a home is rented and dedicated as the first chapel. Rented chapel in Cienfuego opens. Saturday evening church services begin in Gurabo. Initial 11 members are confirmed.
1995: Second missionary family arrives.
1996: Space is rented for third preaching station.
1998: Two Kingdom Worker volunteers arrive to begin an ESL (English as a second language) outreach effort. Bible classes begin with families who were hurricane victims in Los Tres Brazos. Forty children baptized in 8 months.
1999: Exploratory work done in Haiti. 12 are confirmed in Los Tres Brazos. First preaching station in the Capital begins. Third missionary family arrives in Santo Domingo. A Christian Information Center (CIC) opens.
2000: Fourth missionary family arrives in Santo Domingo. Training of 2 national leaders begins in San Pedro de Macoris. Bible Institute program is organized and approved. The three preaching stations join as one central congregation in Santiago. One Missionary takes a call to a different area of mission work. Field changes its mission approach from the use of humanitarian aid as outreach to lower-income families for building missionary-led congregations to an emphasis on reaching out to all classes and training nationals to be congregational leaders.
2001: Worship services begin in the CIC in Santo Domingo. ESL classes begin in Santo Domingo. A new Missionary family arrives in Santiago. Congregation forms in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
2002: One Missionary takes a stateside call. Another Missionary takes a call to LATTE (Latin American Traveling Theological Educators) and leaves the field. Leadership training continues in Santo Domingo, San Pedro, and Santiago. Leadership training continues with Haitian leaders in the DR and in Haiti. Missionaries create the “DEW cycle” ministry plan, with an emphasis on training national leaders in Doctrine, Evangelism, and Worship.
2003: A new Missionary family arrives on field. Exploratory work in Higuey, DR, begins. Congregation forms in Marmelade, Haiti.
2004: A new Missionary accepts stateside call. Exploratory in Licey, near Santiago, begins. Santiago congregation moves to the neighborhood of Altos de Rafey. Leadership training continues with Dominican and Haitian leaders in Santo Domingo, San Pedro, Santiago, and Higuey. LATTE continues training national leaders at the Bible Institute and seminary levels. A new Missionary arrives on field.
2005: First permanent church building finished and dedicated in San Pedro de Macorís. Santiago congregation calls its first student pastor. Haitian congregation in Santiago celebrates two adult baptisms and four adult confirmations. A congregation in Moca inquires about Lutheran Church. Pastor Alex Torres studies, is confirmed and starts teaching his congregation. One Missionary recalled due to budget shortfall, another accepts a stateside call.
2006: Two LATTE missionary families move to the field. Six men study in the seminary as full time students; five more study part time. Santiago congregation develops a congregational mission and vision statement. Moca and both Santiago congregations hold joint service to celebrate seventeen adult confirmations.
2007: Rona Abraham graduates from the DR seminary, July 22. He is the seminary’s first graduate. Haitian congregation in Santiago calls Helve Robert as their new pastor. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes are restarted as a way to reach out into the community. WELS Kingdom Workers sponsors the program. Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God) congregation in Moca incorporates as a legal entity. Other congregations begin the process.
2008: Santiago outreach center suffers four robberies in a six month period. Security concerns are ongoing. Eight adults (including seven from the EFL classes) study doctrine with the desire to join the Santiago congregation. A portion of the Santiago congregation begins worship services in Mte. Adentro.
2009: The Santiago mission is suspended by the Administrative Committee for Latin American Missions. One LATTE missionary remains in order to finish the theological training of three seminary students. A new congregation in Pueblo Nuevo is received into the fellowship of the Dominican church. The Santiago congregation merges with the Pueblo Nuevo congregation. The Mte. Adentro group merges with the Moca congregation.