Posts

Merging for mission – Part 3

Three congregations become a multi-site as they work to spread the gospel in South Florida. 

Julie K. Wietzke 

It started with three congregations—all with their own unique situationhaving the same goal: to find a way to spread the gospel further in South Florida. 

Pompano, Pompano Beach, Florida, was struggling to get new members, its church was in disrepair, and its location left much to be desired. Yet it wasn’t ready to close, to give up on sharing the gospel message. 

Hope, W. Palm Beach, Florida, was pulling in members from all over South Florida and dreamed of daughtering a congregation to extend the gospel’s reach, but it didn’t have quite enough resources to take the leap. 

Divine Savior, Doral, Floridahad just finished adding on to its campus and was blessed financially with an enrollment of more than nine hundred students from PreK-3 to 12th grade. With an outreach focus, they thought they might eventually start another site in the Miami area. 

As the only three congregations left in South Florida, they all came to the same conclusion. “We realized we could do more ministry together than we could by ourselves,” says John Boggs, pastor in W. Palm Beach.  

This led to the formation of a new multi-site ministry under the name of Divine Savior and a new church and school in Delray Beach, Florida. “Satan is trying everything he can to make ministry work as difficult as possible in south Florida, but God is bigger than Satan,” says Boggs. “Us joining together is giving us more of an opportunity not only to survive in this ministry down here but to thrive in it and to exponentially grow the ministry of grace God has entrusted to us.” 

Facing struggles 

Started in the 1960s, Ocean Drive Lutheran Church in Pompano Beach worked hard to reach out into its community, even starting an early childhood ministry in the late 1970s. But the school closed in 1993, and membership numbers began declining.  

With a name change in the 2000s and a goal to become “Your neighborhood church,” Pompano continued to try to make inroads into its community. But with a location offset from the main throughway and in a neighborhood filled with transient residents, outreach was difficult. “No matter what we tried, it was just not yielding the results we were hoping for in terms of bringing in new souls,” says Patrick Lockwitza member at Pompano.  

With membership declining and a church in need of repairs, the congregation began facing financial problems. With the help of a WELS mission counselor, it began conducting demographic studies and collecting data to determine what it should do next. In 2014, it was looking at three options: rent the building out to another ministry, have its pastor become part time, or sell its building and relocate. “It was the reality. Nothing was bringing in people. Work was wearing [members] down. The facility was falling apart. It was a cycle happening over and over again. Something had to change—it was going to take something drastic,” says Lockwitz. 

Forging partnerships 

In its studies, Pompano learned that many areas on South Florida were in need of good education options. The congregation began talking to Divine Savior in Doral, located an hour south, about the process of opening a school—buying land, constructing a building, financing. “We said, ‘You have already done this in Doral. Can you help us navigate this in Coral Springs?’ ” says Lockwitz, referring to a nearby city. 

At the same time, Pompano’s pastor decided to take a call, and Divine Savior’s pastors took on the vacancy. “When you’re at the end of the map, you just hang tighter together,” says Carlos Leyrer, president of Divine Savior Ministries. “If we didn’t do something, we knew how the story endedWe needed a new ministry plan.” 

That “something” was the start of Divine Savior and Pompano working together—an event that would eventually lead the Pompano congregation to join Divine Savior Ministries. Pompano put its church on the market and started meeting in a hotel room in nearby Coral Springs, a more stable, family-oriented neighborhood primed for Christian education. 

Land search for a permanent location began, and when the search turned up options in nearby Palm Beach County, Hope, W. Palm Beach, also joined the discussion, because it had already been looking to start a church in that area. 

The three congregations settled on a great location in Delray Beach, Florida, about 20 miles south of W. Palm Beach. With grants and loans from WELS Church Extension Fund, land was purchased, and building began. Pompano members closed their church and along with several families from W. Palm Beach became the core group of this new mission. The South Atlantic District Mission Board called Joel Schulz to plant this new church. On Oct. 29, 2017, the congregations celebrated an official merger under the name of Divine Savior.  

Boggs says this was a group effort with each congregation having a role: Pompano provided starting cash from the sale of its old church property; Doral brought in the systems and financial backing; and Hope added a growingstable, experienced ministry to help the mission church. “We had three different sites, offering three different things,” says Boggs. “None of us was going to be able to do this by ourselves but together we were able to start a congregation in an area of South Florida that desperately needed the gospel to be proclaimed.” 

Moving forward 

A little less than a year after the merger, Divine Savior–Delray Beach dedicated its new school building. Although zoning issues and construction delays pushed back its original timeline for the opening of its academy, the congregation is excited to settle into its new home and move forward with its mission. For former Pompano members it had been almost three years of meeting in hotel rooms in Coral Springs and hotels and a movie theater in Delray. “It might take me a couple of years to get used to this being our permanent home,” says Lockwitz. 

Pompano’s cross, altar, and baptismal font adorn the front of the worship space. “It means a lot for them to have that,” says Schulz, who spent months after he arrived visiting all the former Pompano members.  

But the new congregation isn’t focusing on the past. “We’re always forging forward,” says Lockwitz. He says being part of a multi-site ministry provides the support—both financially and spiritually—to get the work done. “It’s not like we’re living in our own Delray Beach campus. It’s a regional thing. . . . Now we’re able to do the mission planning as we think it needs to be done. We have enough resources and expertise across all the different facets of ministry. It feels like the burden has been lifted off our backs.” 

With 75 people in worship on Sunday, an excited outreach team, an academy poised for growth, and collaboration with other Divine Savior Ministries sites, the congregation at Delray Beach is ready to put Divine Savior’s mission statement into action: “Changing lives with Jesus as we worship, connect, and serve.” 


Julie Wietzke is the managing editor of Forward in Christ.


This is the final article in a three-part series on church mergers, multi-sites, and closings. 


SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 106, Number 3
Issue: March 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Merging for mission – Part 2

Finding that they could be stronger together, two congregations decide to merge into one. 

Julie K. Wietzke 

Steve Waldschmidt describes a recent church merger between Good Shepherd, St. Peter, Mo., and Apostles, Dardenne Prairie, Mo., as a simple math problem: “You have twice the weekly offerings, twice the pastoral staff, twice the volunteer base, and twice the members. Then you cut the debt in half.” 

What does it equal? New opportunities for ministry within the congregation and for mission outreach out in the community. 

The merged congregation’s new name, Christ Alone, completes the rest of the equation: “The name Christ Alone serves as a reminder to ourselves of why we’re here and why we’re doing this—to serve Christ alone,” says Tim Raster, president of Christ Alone, now a one-year-old congregation. 

Understanding the situations 

Good Shepherd and Apostles were both located in St. Charles County. Situated about five miles apart, these congregations worked to reach out in this suburban area about 30 miles from St. Louis across the Missouri River. 

Started in the 1980s, Good Shepherd decided to add on to its facility in the early 2000s to open a preschool to serve the community. The school ran for about ten years before the congregation decided to close it in spring 2016.  

The school’s closure opened up some questions for the 150-member congregation. What would be the ministry focus moving forward? How were members going to pay the building loan? How should the congregation use its building now that it no longer had a school?  

While a task force considered options like leasing part of the building or maybe even moving into a storefront, the congregation reached out to its neighboring 120-member congregation Apostles to find out what its plans were for the future. Apostles started as a daughter church of Good Shepherd in 1999 when growth in that area was booming. 

Good Shepherd discovered that while their ministry situations were different, Apostles was having similar difficulties: a lot of debt, tired volunteers, and reduced programming due to lack of funds. Getting the congregations’ names out was also difficult in an area so close to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s headquarters. 

“The devil was working on both of our churches,” says Seth Bode, then pastor at Apostles.  

Analyzing the options 

Apostles and Good Shepherd were already working together in certain areas, like combining some education classes and preaching at one another’s congregations. As the pastors began talking, they wondered if they should collaborate even more.  

After attending a WELS multi-site conference in Arizona, Bode and Waldschmidt discussed some options with their congregations. “We could become a multi-site where we had the same name and same branding, or we could combine our efforts where we are still stand-alone congregations but doing more ministry together, or we could do a full merger into one building,” says Waldschmidt.  

After both congregations agreed that the topic should be explored further, a joint task force made of members from both congregations began studying the situation in earnest.  

The group began by mapping out where members from both congregations lived. The maps dramatically overlapped. “We’re looking at two physical properties serving the same area,” says Raster. 

The discussions then revolved around opportunities. “We really were laying it all out on the table and starting with what do we want to do rather than what resources do we have,” says Bode. “Then we matched those goals with a vision of what things could look like, always knowing God could determine the steps far better than we could.” 

This led to looking at the options open to the congregations: two buildings, two pastors; one building, two pastors; two buildings, one pastor. “We talked about every angle,” says Raster. “Some of them were uncomfortable topics. As a group we had to be very sensitive. There’s logic; there’s emotion; there’s spiritual; and there’s God’s Word. Trying to balance that together and make good decisions was challenging.” 

The group decided that merging into one church with two pastors at the Dardenne Prairie site was the best direction. Both congregations overwhelmingly agreed, and Christ Alone, the new congregation, held its dedication Oct. 15, 2017. 

Maximizing the mission 

Christ Alone celebrated its one-year anniversary in October 2018 and is going strong. The congregation now has 305 members and had five youth confirmations this past year. Waldschmidt reports that members are excited to volunteer and have been meeting a lot of new people from the neighborhood through community events held at the church.  

The congregation also sold its other church building and now has more money for ministry. “Before everything was about cost,” says Raster. “Now we need to stop thinking about ways NOT to spend money, and we actually need to think of ways to put our money to good use. This is a new challenge for us!” 

That isn’t their only challenge. Waldschmidt now is the only pastor at Christ Alone, after Bode took a call last summer. Members also have to learn to work together to develop the congregation’s culture and determine ministry methods. “What we need to focus on is how Christ Alone is going to do this, not how did Good Shepherd do this or how did Apostles do this,” says Waldschmidt. “We have to keep it mission-driven rather than me-driven.” 

Being mission-driven is the lesson that Waldschmidt says he took away from this merger experience. “Mindset really is everything. You can’t do this in a way that is survival-driven or you’re not going to make it. You have to do it in a way that is mission-driven.” 

Being mission-driven also means that the work doesn’t stop once the merger is complete. “If you’re going to maximize the mission and escalate your efforts in the community, it works best if everyone works just as hard as when you started,” says Bode. “The danger is that you think because there’s more people, you can help out half as much. But that defeats the purpose of the whole idea.” 

Working together to carry out the Lord’s mission is key when discussing a merger—whether it is expanding as a multi-site or, as in this case, narrowing to a single site. “That’s what makes it different than just trying to cobble two congregations together,” says Peter Kruschel, who served as a home mission counselor for ten years, including working with Christ Alone through the merger process. “It takes people who are willing to work together to carry out their mission.” 

He continues, “It was critical that [Apostles and Good Shepherd] joined forces. It could have taken so many forms, but they needed to work together because neither one was strong enough to carry out the mission of the church effectively alone. They can do so much more together.” 


Julie Wietzke is the managing editor of Forward in Christ.


This is the second article in a three-part series on church mergers, multi-sites, and closings. 


SIDE BAR:

Congregational Services is working on a program that will help clusters of congregations that are considering merging into a single site or operating as multi-sites. Jon Hein, coordinator of Congregational Services, says the plan is to help congregations work through all the options and considerations that are part of a merger process similar to the one Christ Alone experienced. “The goal is to have congregations thinking about mergers and multi-sites proactively, not just as a desperate Hail Mary pass,” says Hein. “There are legitimate reasons for churches that are doing well to consider merging or going multi-site, simply so they can be even stronger together.” Look for more on this program in summer 2019. 


SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 106, Number 2
Issue: February 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Merging for mission – Part 1

Two case studies reveal the blessings and challenges of mergers and multi-site ministries. 

Julie K. Wietzke 

If you talk to Nathan Strutz, pastor at Resurrection, Verona/Monroe, Wisconsin, about the recent merger between Resurrection, Verona, and Mount Olive, Monroe, he will be quick to point out it wasn’t about keeping the doors open on the beautiful church building in Monroe. “It is all about keeping the doors of heaven open to lost souls,” he says.  

It was about finding a way to continue to share the gospel 

Case study: Wisconsin 

Things didn’t look that way at first. Mount Olive, Monroe, started in 1945. Membership grew, and members secured land and bought a former schoolhouse in 1949. After renovation, it became its first church building. Then in 1981, the congregation bought an existing church building in town. The beautiful church seemed to promise a bright future. 

But then the congregation began to struggle, and over several decades it slowly lost members—some due to deaths in an aging congregation and some due to families leaving because they wanted a more active children’s ministry. By 2016, membership had dwindled to 80, with about 20 people worshiping each Sunday.   

When their pastor announced his upcoming retirement, members knew something had to be done. Calling a new pastor would be extremely challenging. They had to face the reality that it would be difficult to afford their own pastor. Talks with another small parish about forming a dual parish didn’t work out. They even tried putting their church up for sale so they could downsize.  

Members weren’t sure what to do next. “We were on an island. We didn’t know what direction to turn to without disbanding,” says Richard Meske, long-time member and church president. “We didn’t have many options. As president, I tried to assure members that we were not going to close our doors; one way or another we would attempt to keep it open.” 

Some members from Mount Olive began attending Resurrection, Verona. Together with Resurrection members who had ties to the Monroe community, they started talking to Strutz about Mount Olive’s situation. Resurrection had been discussing its long-range plan, which included looking into starting a new site. The congregation had already daughtered a church, Good News in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, in 2013, and was ready for its next opportunity.  

The conversation brought about a meeting in November 2016 for both congregations to discuss possibilities. One option was Resurrection offering Mount Olive some financial assistance so the congregation could afford to call a pastor and keep its doors open. 

But that option wasn’t appealing to the members at Resurrection. They saw the outreach potential. “We were not going to continue talking just for the survival of a church in Monroe—just to do hospice care before a church died,” says Strutz. “This was going to be about expanding the kingdom of God—reaching the lost in Monroe and, God-willing, establishing a growing, thriving congregation.” Monroe was a community of 10,000, and their vision included the opportunity to bring back former members of the congregation who still lived in the neighborhood. 

Strutz continues, “We wanted to convey to both locations that we are all-in on this. This is a long-term thing. This is not going into a temporary survival mode until things get better.” It was about keeping the door of heaven open In Monroe as well as in Verona. 

Merging for mission 

Merging for mission is key when congregations begin discussing working together either to create a multi-site ministry by merging into one congregation. “For a multi-site to work well, there has to be a servant mentality,” says Jon Hein, director of the Commission on Congregational Counseling. “It has to be about Christ and his gospel and his mission.” 

Maintaining that mission mind-set can be difficult, especially when you’re talking about “closing” a struggling congregation as a new multi-site emerges. But the outcomes can be inspiring. 

“It doesn’t have to be a loss. It’s totally a win for the kingdom of God,” says Strutz. “God be praised for that.” 

Another case study: Arizona 

Financial burdens also played a role for two more struggling churches—this time outside of Tucson, Arizona.  

Both Peace, Sahuarita, and Bethlehem, Benson, with memberships of 39 and 10 respectively, had their own land and church buildings, but neither congregation could afford a pastor. They became a dual parish in 2012. When the congregations became vacant in 2013, ministry was difficult at both churches. “While we were under the vacancy as Peace, there was literally no opportunity to do outreach,” says Bob Breiler, church president at Peace at the time. “It was just a struggle to keep the doors open.” The congregations began working together to call a pastor so both congregations could remain open.  

Six months and several calls later, Breiler approached Ron Koehler, pastor at Grace, Tucson, to ask him for help in getting weekly preachers. Bethlehem made a similar request. Koehler suggested to both congregations that instead of just helping them out occasionally with preaching, that perhaps they should consider a longer-term option: becoming new sites of Grace. 

Grace already was a multi-site congregation; in 2011, it opened its second site in Vail, 20 miles southeast, to celebrate the congregation’s 100th anniversary. It already was seeing the benefits that one site with multiple locations could offer.  

“These were brothers and sisters in Christ who needed help, and we felt we had the ability to offer that help,” says Koehler. “We also felt that they deserved more than just a Sunday preacher.” 

In addition, Grace saw the outreach opportunities this merger could provide. Sahuarita is a growing community of young families and professionals who commute daily to Tucson. The adjacent town, Green Valley, is a retirement community that explodes in numbers during the winter. “We felt that this was a viable mission field,” says Koehler. “So not only would we be helping our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also would be poised to reach this growing community with the gospel.” 

As for the rural community of Benson, “if that [congregation] goes away, the district mission board probably won’t go back. But if we can save that location, we can do ministry there and be poised for any future growth in that area, if that would happen,” says Koehler. Since the merger Koehler has begun reading stories about future growth in the Benson area. 

Gains and losses 

As both Resurrection and Mount Olive in Wisconsin and the three congregations in Arizona began seriously discussing merging and becoming multi-site congregations, mind-sets and views of identity had to be adjusted, especially for the struggling congregations. 

“The spiritual preparation to engage in a multi-site or a merger is infinitely more important than the logistical preparation,” says Hein. “It’s getting people to that point of selflessness and self-sacrifice. It’s getting people to have a mission mind-set—what serves Christ first.” 

Feeling like you are “losing” your church can be quite emotional. “Our children went through Sunday school [at Mount Olive] and got confirmed there,” says Meske. “It means a great deal because we didn’t want our local church to leave.” 

While a merger could preserve the church location, Meske says the initial discussions about the merger were met by apprehension at Mount Olive. “The word merger means ‘absorption from another,’ the way I interpret it.”  

That can mean a new identity, new ministry goals, and different ministry plans. 

“We wanted to instill positive DNA,” says Strutz. “People wouldn’t go back if it was the same old Mount Olive.” 

He continues, “You have to be up front and say it’s the start of something better. For the good of the kingdom, this has to mean the end of Mount Olive as you know it.” 

Koehler agrees about the importance of having a new ministry outlook. “The benefit of the merger is that difficult issues the congregation had to deal with before won’t cloud the ministry anymore,” he says. “Merging with another congregation means a new identity, a new start, a new philosophy of ministry, and a broader base of support.” 

It takes a lot of trust for both congregations involved. Members from the healthy congregation may worry that they are losing too much of their pastor’s time as he works in another location or that their resources may be stretched too thin. For the struggling congregation, concern focuses on the things it will have to give up: its identity, its “say” in what happens, and probably even its name. 

“We have to trust each other enough to say we’re going to do what’s good for the entire congregation and, more important, what’s good for God’s kingdom,” says Strutz. 

Besides trusting each other, the congregations had to trust God. “It was a combination of doing our homework and trusting that God would make it successful or would use it for his purposes. That was how we approached it,” says Bryan Guenther, then president at Grace, Tucson.  

Arizona merger 

The congregations held numerous discussions and member feedback meetings as they worked on a plan of how the multi-site merger would work. After those meetings, Grace presented a proposal for the congregations at Benson and Sahuarita to review.  

“I was worried to ask our congregation for an official vote,” says Breiler, Peace, Sahuarita’s, church president. “When the time came and everyone was behind it, it was a big huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t want to see the church have to fold up and close its doors.” 

The Benson congregation followed suit. After more legal work, both congregations merged with Grace in late 2014, making it a four-site congregation with the name: Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Arizona. 

And now the real work could begin.  

With one congregation and four sites, communication and coordination are key. “It’s hard to overcommunicate when you have four sites in four cities over two counties, with a half hour between each site,” says Koehler. Grace’s plan is to have a site pastor for each location but to have one council to make decisions, with representation from each site. Logistics can be tricky for seemingly simple things like how and where to hold all-site meetings. Leaders and site representatives need to be trusted. Calendars and events have to be coordinated. 

Members of all the sites also had to get used to the idea of being one congregation and analyzing important ministry plan decisions through that lens. Breiler says that at the beginning, people were asking, “What about our congregation?” when decisions were being made. “It was about getting into the habit of remembering we’re one congregation—we just have four sites,” he says. “We’re all the same; we’re all just in different places.” 

As time went on, that togetherness became more obvious—as well as the blessings. “Instead of struggling to get by, the congregations have this energy and this hope to expand God’s kingdom. This opens the door for them to do the things that they want to do,” says Koehler. He stresses the blessings of a new extended church family, ministry planning, people power to help with ministry, and financial resources to support God’s work. “For outreach, it is also a great blessing,” he continues. “You’re more accessible to people. With two locations—and now four locations—no matter where you’re living, our church is available to you.” 

Currently Grace is building a new church and child learning center in Sahuarita to serve the growing community. All sites had to be on board with this direction, even the Vail site, which currently rents space for worship. “You’re committing all four sites to the one project, so you really have to think it through,” says Guenther. “Does this mean we can’t do other things at other sites? Perhaps. But this is the commitment. This is the biggest opportunity right now.” 

Merger in Wisconsin 

The conversations in Wisconsin resulted in a merger too. Resurrection and Mount Olive voted to merge as a multi-site, officially becoming Resurrection, Verona/Monroe, in September 2017.  

The name change proved difficult for some, including one long-time member at Mount Olive. “He said [to me], ‘I lost my church,’ ” says Meske. “I said, ‘No, you didn’t lose your church. We changed the name, but the Word and sacraments are still the same as they’ve always been.’ ” 

David Plenge, then a member at Resurrection, Verona, Wis., but now church liaison for the Monroe site, highlights the larger significance of the change: “It’s not Mount Olive’s church; it’s God’s church. Don’t think of the name change that you lost something—you’re gaining something.” Those gains include more people and more financial support to conduct ministry in the Monroe community.  

The new name also can signify a new start. “From an evangelism standpoint, it almost made it easier,” says Plenge. “We could go out and promote that there’s a new direction, a new life.”  

And that’s just what the members did. People from both sites began visiting former members of Mount Olive who had left the church for some reason. They canvassed door-to-door, using new move-in lists to discover people who may be looking for a church home. They also started participating in local events to make connections in the community. 

And people started coming. Some former members returned to church, and new people visited for the first time. Sunday worship attendance more than doubled, including some families with small children. The Sunday school restarted. Seeing the excitement and the new faces, people began inviting their friends to worship as well. 

“God just had a lot of things lined up for us,” says Strutz. “We haven’t done anything. God has done everything.” 

With a new seminary graduate assigned to the congregation in May 2018, Resurrection, Verona and Monroe, is still navigating the challenges of being a multi-site, whether in communication, coordination, or joint decision making. “It’s not always rainbow and unicorns and cotton candy,” says Strutz. “But any of the issues so far pale in comparison to the growth.” 

And the congregation is already looking ahead. Its ten-year plan calls for it to be in four sites. Says Strutz, “Being part of this merger has raised the sights of our members to say, ‘God can do this again.’ ” 


Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ magazine.


This is the first article in a three-part series about church closing, mergers, and multi-sites. 


SIDE BAR:

“I’m really not sure if I chose the church or the church chose me.” 

Terri Keegan moved across the street from Resurrection (then Mount Olive), Monroe, Wis., in 2014. At that time, she was watching sermons on TV and felt that was enough for her. “I believed in God,” she says. “Did I really need to join a church?” The church across the street was just . . . a church across the street. 

In late 2017, she started feeling differently. “I would look out my window and I would see the cross and the lights of the church,” she says. “That’s when I started noticing how beautiful it was, and it was pulling me toward it.” 

She also noticed acquaintances of hers walking into the church on Sunday. She contacted them and asked if she could come too. They welcomed her with open arms. 

Once she started attending, she never stopped. She began taking Bible information classes and started reading the Bible—a book she had never read before. “When I started learning about God, I just felt like a different person—it was the church for me,” she says. “I feel like I am at peace.” She became a member in April 2018. 

Terri’s daughters have seen the difference in her and are visiting Resurrection as well.  

“Terri wouldn’t have had a church to go to if we wouldn’t have merged,” says Nathan Strutz, pastor at Resurrection, Verona/Monroe, Wis. “This is why we have a church. It’s about saving souls.” 


SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 106, Number 1
Issue: January 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

Print Friendly, PDF & Email