New Start: Kalispell, Montana, 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Kalispell is the county seat of Flathead County, which includes the communities of Kalispell, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls.
  • Flathead County, the real target area of the mission, has a population of 104,357.
  • The core group has been worshipping for over 10 years and participating in regular Bible studies for over eight years.
  • The group has started calling themselves “North Valley Lutheran Church”.
  • The core group hosted a Backpacks and Burgers event in July 2022 to help get their name out into the Kalispell community. Read more in this Missions Blog from August 2022:

Mr. Lloyd Fager, Core Group member
[email protected]

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Read more about the exploratory work in Kronenwetter in this Missions Blog from August 2023: Brats and building bridges for Jesus!
  • Nearly 60% of homes in Kronenwetter don’t have connections to churches or faith groups.
  • The core group has visited other home mission churches in the Western Wisconsin district, participated in an “Everyone Outreach” seminar at a nearby WELS church, and hosted a highly successful live nativity event at Northland Lutheran High School in December 2022.
  • In the 1990s, the district mission board saw potential to plant a church in either Rib Mountain or Kronenwetter. They chose Rib Mountain, which is now a healthy, self-supporting congregation and one of the five churches from the area supporting the new effort.
  • Northland Lutheran High School’s student body will play a large role in assisting this new church, helping students become confident witnesses for Christ and providing the new mission church with support.

Rev. Jeff Mahnke, District Mission Board chairman
[email protected]

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Rev. Joe Lindloff has accepted the call to serve as church planter in Marquette and will be installed in Fall 2023.
  • Marquette has a population of about 21,000, and is the seat of a county with 66,000 people.
  • Many graduates from Northern Michigan University Marquette choose to live in, come back to, raise a family, and embrace Marquette.
  • Read more about the exploratory work in Marquette in these Missions Blogs:

Rev. Ben Enstad, District Mission Board chairman
[email protected]

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Caleb King was assigned from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., in May 2023 to serve this new mission start. He was commissioned at Taste of Missions on June 10, and installed on July 23, 2023, at Atonement Lutheran Church in Plano, Tex. Watch his commissioning and the Q&A panel with new missionaries from Taste of Missions at
  • There isn’t a single Lutheran congregation of any denomination in the proposed mission area.
  • The town of Prosper and the city of Celina are currently being targeted as potential church plant locations. The core group will work with their district mission board and Divine Savior Ministries to determine the optimal location for a church and school now that they’ve been approved.
  • The core group has been meeting every other week since 2021 for planning meetings and Bible studies. They’ve also participated in community outreach opportunities, including volunteering at a food pantry, cleaning up litter as part of the Adopt-A-Street program, and attending community events while representing Divine Savior Church.
  • Family ministry and Christian education will be this mission’s focus.
  • The goal is that once the Academy is built by year five of the mission, the church will worship in the school building and no church funds will be needed for land or building costs.

Rev. Caleb King, Home Missionary
[email protected]

New Start: 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.

Fast Facts:

  • Panama City Beach is seeing a new surge in housing growth that is anticipated well into the future. While no formal population estimates have been released, upwards of 225,000 people are expected to move into the target area.
  • Amazing Grace has a base of strong members in the Panama City Beach area. They currently drive between 30-75 minutes “over the bridge” to attend Amazing Grace, and the closest other WELS church is in Navarre, 90 minutes away.
  • Amazing Grace has started new opportunities for outreach in the Panama City Beach area, including a summer soccer camp, winter car show, and mentoring students in local schools.
  • This mission church is presently envisioned to become part of a multi-site type of ministry (Amazing Grace – Beachside) by incorporating shared resources, ministry personnel, and administration with Amazing Grace in Panama City.

Rev. David Kehl, Amazing Grace Lutheran Church
[email protected]