Six new home missions authorized
At its April meeting, the Board for Home Missions authorized the establishment of six new home missions throughout the United States, totaling $563,000 in funding. The new mission openings are located in Blair, Neb.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fenton, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev. (cross-cultural); Liberty Hill, Texas; and Tyler, Texas.
“As a church body, it is a huge blessing when Home Missions through district mission boards can partner with active congregations looking to have a hand in starting the next mission,” says Keith Free, administrator of the Board for Home Missions.
Many of these new starts already have a core group of WELS members from established churches in the area. Says Free, “Some of these Home Mission starts already have 50 committed members willing to offer their time, talents, and offerings to help support the new congregation. In most of these locations, initial outreach has already started by active core groups supported by the existing congregations near these six communities.”
One of these places is in Blair, Neb., a city 20 miles north of Omaha. The vicar at Gethsemane, Omaha, this year has been working with a core group of 15 to 20 members in the Blair community. “It’s been great to have a vicar come in with such enthusiasm to canvass a new area and lead Bible classes for our core group,” says Stephen Helwig, pastor at Gethsemane. “It’s about sharing our Savior with a new community outside the Gethsemane church neighborhood.”
Helwig says that it is a huge opportunity for an established congregation like Gethsemane to assist in the start of a mission, but it will also require the prayers and support of the synod. “It isn’t every day a home mission congregation gets started, so it is very important for the community to understand that we are establishing a church that is in it for the long haul and wants to become part of their community,” he adds.
Home Missions has been provided increased synod support, which was made possible by Congregation Mission Offerings and a WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF) grant. The grant is made possible because CEF recently adopted an unrestricted net assets policy that provides annual special grants to Home Missions over and above CEF’s matching grant programs. “The new CEF policy is allowing us to open two new home mission starts,” says Free. Add in direct gifts to Home Missions from WELS members, and enough funding was available for the new mission starts.
“One of the neat things is the cooperation of each district mission board in determining the feasibility of these six sites,” says Free. “We had many excellent proposals presented, and if we had the extra funds, we had at least three more missions that we would have been willing to authorize.”
Learn more about the work of Home Missions at www.wels.net/missions.
Volume 102, Number 6
Issue: June 2015
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