Enhancement (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.

Fast Facts:

  • Rev. Brian Schmidt accepted the call to serve as Home Missionary at Beautiful Savior and was installed on August 27, 2023.
  • The area around Beautiful Savior has seen year-over-year growth of 1.8%, with population projected to reach 522,204 by 2024.
  • The church and parsonage are located across the street from a public elementary school, next door to an assisted living facility, and numerous new subdivisions and apartment buildings are going up in the area. The opportunities for ministry are abundant.
  • Even during their vacancy this past year, attendance for both worship and Bible study are up, elders are active, and they have had adult confirmations and four infant baptisms.

Contact:
Rev. Brian Schmidt, Home Missionary
[email protected]
515-225-4392

Enhancement: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Fairview has mission-minded leaders and the facility in place to do this ministry.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in worship and Bible study attendance since A City for God started using Fairview facilities as their ministry base.
  • While the two chaplains currently serve the Hope Semper and Hope Prima schools, they will also be able to reach out to students and families at Shining Star Christian School, a non-affiliated Christian school that is using the school space at Fairview for one of their three campuses.

Contact:
Rev. Paul Steinberg, Fairview and A City for God
[email protected]
414-530-0476

Enhancement: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • The county population is expected to more than double in the next 10 years.
  • God has blessed Christ the King with 12 new members in the past year.
  • Christ the King has a comprehensive Ministry Plan that was being implemented before Hurricane Ian hit. The group is still committed to doing what they can for outreach while working through their clean-up efforts.

Contact:
Rev. Caleb Free, District Mission Board member
[email protected]
941-302-6276

Enhancement: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Rev. Dan Laitinen accepted the call to serve as Divine Savior’s second pastor and was installed on August 20, 2023.
  • The master-planned community of Sienna is expected to double in size over the next several years. Average annual growth over the past few years is between 32-56%.
  • Divine Savior Academy broke ground on a second building, which will provide the space for the Academy to have an enrollment of 500+ students.
  • Divine Savior had 11 adult confirmands the past two years and 11 baptisms in 2022 from school-connected families.
  • In a recent survey, parents of 33 current students stated they were interested in baptism and parents of 131 students said they were interested in learning more about how to pray and read the Bible with their children.

Contact:
Rev. Kevin Boushek, Divine Savior Lutheran Church
[email protected]
219-363-6164

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Rev. Ross Chartrand recently accepted the call to serve as home missionary in Bentonville.
  • Bentonville is the headquarters of Walmart, J.B. Hunt Logistics is located in neighboring Lowell, and Tyson Foods has a plant in Rogers and headquarters in Springdale to the south.
  • Bentonville itself has a population of 62,000. By 2026, its population is expected to be 83,000 (35% growth).
  • Walmart has invested quite a bit into the Bentonville community, making it a very desirable place to live with good schools and over 140 miles of bike trails for families. The Ozark National Forest to the southeast makes Bentonville a hub for outdoor activity.
  • The four families in the core group have been meeting every two weeks for Bible study and fellowship since May 2022.
  • The nearest WELS churches to the Bentonville/Centerton target area are Beautiful Savior in Bella Vista and Grace in Lowell.

Contact:
Rev. Nathan Nass, District Mission Board member
[email protected]
918-269-6182

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New Start: 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 will be modeled after church plants in Atlanta and New York City and could have potential for college and cross-cultural ministry.

Fast Facts:

  • Joshua Koelpin was assigned from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., in May 2023 to serve this new mission start. He was installed on August 6, 2023.
  • There are eight energetic and gifted WELS members currently residing in Boston who will be assisting in the mission effort.
  • A group of students from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary worked with the North Atlantic district mission board to prepare a strategy for how to mobilize a core group, reach the community, and use limited resources to maximize reach in Boston as part of a church planting course held in January 2023. Read more in this article from Forward in Christ magazine.
  • The closest WELS church is Good Shepherd in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, a 90-minute (or more!) drive to the south. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), WELS sister church, has a church in a far northwestern suburb.
  • Read more about the exploratory work in Boston in this Missions Blog from November 2023: Athens of America

Contact:
Rev. Joshua Koelpin, Home Missionary
[email protected]
507-766-0674

Enhancement (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.

Fast Facts:

  • Oil and gas largely drive the Midland economy. Over the last 10-12 years the population has grown from 111,000 to 149,000.
  • There is no other WELS church within a two-hour drive of Midland.
  • Members attend weekly services and Bible studies, volunteer for community food drives, have participated in Praise and Proclaim outreach training, and are actively inviting community members to church.

Contact:
Rev. Pieter Reid, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
[email protected]
608-332-8925

Enhancement (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.

Fast Facts:

  • Our Redeemer (59 members) is the only WELS church within 22 miles, serving a large rural region in addition to the 3,000 individuals in Ladysmith.
  • Members leading the outreach effort meet regularly to make additional plans, study outreach-themed Bible studies like One by One and Let’s Go, and meet with their district mission board shepherd.

Contact:
Rev. Chris Christenson, Our Redeemer
[email protected]
608-797-9573

New Start: Beautiful Savior in Cincinnati, Ohio, is starting a second site in the Oakley and Hyde 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.

Fast Facts:

  • The Oakley and Hyde Park neighborhoods have a growing population of young people and families. Part of their ministry plan includes providing a variety of service and fellowship opportunities to help connect these young professionals and families who have recently moved to the area.
  • This area would target college students at the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and North Kentucky University. It is the prayer that service and fellowship events also draw in college students looking to make connections.
  • The Michigan district mission board has considered doing some kind of work in the southeast corner of Cincinnati since 1990. With three corners of the area served by current WELS congregations, the Oakley/Hyde Park area would be the fourth.

Contact:
Rev. Alex Groth, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
[email protected]
414-403-9339

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Rev. Paul Krueger recently accepted the call to serve this new mission.
  • The core group has chosen the name Christ Alone for their new church.
  • The Idaho Falls area is estimated to have a population of 145,216 by the year 2032, an increase of over 28,000 people (nearly 25% growth).
  • The Mormon population has dropped to around 59% due to the influx of people, whereas this number was as high as 75% at one point.
  • The core group has Tuesday evening Zoom Bible studies with Pastor Mark Parsons from Truth in Love Ministries.
  • The next nearest WELS churches are in Layton, Utah, (three hours) or Boise, Idaho (four hours).

Contact:
Rev. Mark Parsons, Truth in Love Ministries
[email protected]
986-895-3924