For over a year, a half-dozen Christian households in the Onalaska/Brice Prairie area (suburban LaCrosse, Wis.) had been deprived of their CLC home-page. That is, when St. Mark’s of Onalaska left the CLC with Pastor E. Albrecht, and this handful of souls could not follow, they found themselves without a pastor or congregational affiliation. What to do? Although their CLC home page had been lost, their CLC network was still functioning. So Pres. Fleischer helped them arrange for the services of John Hein (then of Red Wing) as coordinator for networking them back into having a home page.
So over the past year, these two-score souls have congregated faithfully, Sunday by Sunday, in the front room of the Elsie Pabst home, with a variety of preachers behind the lectern: J. Hein, J. Schaller, A. Schulz, R. Mackensen, S. Kurtzahn, Seminary graduate Mark Gurath, and some Seminary students. When Pastor Hein left for Sioux Falls, Mark Gurath was asked to become the coordinator of pastoral services, which he did cheerfully.
As the months of winter turned into the heat of summer, 1998, and it became clear that the group could not be added to the CLC home page entitled “CLC Misson status,” they brought their plight to the attention of Messiah congregation of Eau Claire, 90 minutes to the north.
Messiah responded favorably to their request to be adopted into Messiah’s membership, which enrolled them on Messiah’s home page, including the pledge of financial assistance. The Conference Visitor (Pastor P. Tiefel) assisted in the collaborative effort to call a pastor to serve them on a regular basis. This call was issued to Seminary graduate Mark Gurath, with whom they had become familiar; Mark, who at graduation had refrained from accepting a call-assignment, happily accepted this call as the Lord’s will for him and for them.
So since Sept. 27 Mark’s home page reads: “Pastor of the Brice Prairie/Onalaska CLC congregation” (a more churchly name will be forthcoming). So it has turned into a homecoming for both the congregation (a renewal of CLC membership) and for Mark Gurath, now pastoring his own home church. By the way, Sept. 27 was also Messiah’s Fall Mission Festival!
At the Onalaska Community Center some sixty-five persons from Brice Prairie, LaCrosse, Onalaska, Eau Claire, Millston, Red Wing, Fond du Lac, etc., gathered for this special family reunion. Christian friends from the CLC network rejoice together at this opening of a new home page in the greater LaCrosse area for access to the programs of God’s grace now available in our fledgling sister congregation. May God bless them and their new pastor and all who receive their ministry as ambassadors for Christ!
–Paul R. Koch