Every other month our CLC Board of Missions updates us with recent news from various mission fields.
Over the years, the Lord has opened many doors for the CLC to support domestic mission congregations. Throughout our history, we have supported more than fifty congregations across the United States and Canada. Over half of those congregations are now self-supporting with a full-time pastor.
The most recent addition to that list is St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia, who became a self-supporting congregation in January of this year. Like many of our mission congregations, St. Paul’s started out as a preaching station. In 1994, Pastor Bertram Naumann of Lynnwood, Washington, started making monthly visits to Vernon to conduct worship services. In the fall of 1996, the congregation was approved for mission status and began calling for a full-time pastor. In May of 1997, Pastor David Reim was installed as St. Paul’s first full-time pastor and continues to serve the congregation today.
On January 21of this year, the congregation celebrated achieving self-supporting status during the worship service. In his sermon, Pastor Reim expressed his thankfulness for the support received from those in our fellowship: “For the past twenty plus years we have been receiving subsidy from our brothers and sisters throughout the CLC. We might ask, why should people give so generously to support us? They don’t know us. They don’t even live in the same country. It is the love of God in their hearts. By God’s grace they love those who share the love for God’s Word and want to see that Word spread.” It is very possible that St. Paul’s would not have gotten started without the support of members and churches throughout the CLC. This is another example of how the Lord has blessed our fellowship and how He uses our small church body to spread the gospel.
Though our financial support of St. Paul’s has come to an end, our support of their mission in central British Columbia certainly does not. We will still want to support them with our prayers and encouragement as they go forward. As with many of our congregations, St. Paul’s has seen ups and downs over the years. Several years ago, membership numbers reached the mid-forties. However, in recent years, that number has dropped to the low thirties. Still, there is much to be thankful for and encouraged about as the congregation just received two new couples into membership in January. Pastor Reim has recovered from a heart attack he suffered in November and reports that he has been able to fully resume his duties. The congregation is planning new outreach efforts after Easter including an evening dinner and Bible study where members invite friends and neighbors to join them. They are also looking into doing a number of public seminars on Biblical topics as they have done in the past.
The congregation remains committed to carrying on the work of the Gospel, and they are looking forward, in faith, to the opportunities and challenges ahead. Please keep St. Paul’s in your prayers as they begin this new chapter in their history.
Robert Sauers is pastor of Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Morris, Minnesota, and a member of the CLC Board of Missions.