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What’s New With YOU? Updates from congregations around the Church of the Lutheran Confession

Ten years ago, there was a sense of resignation among some members of Faith Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. It is difficult to be a small confessional Lutheran congregation in a town that is dominated by two large Wisconsin Synod (WELS) congregations. In the previous decade, Faith had suffered some substantial losses, including several of its charter members. Between 2007 and 2017, both total membership and church attendance had decreased by over 30%. This can be difficult on an already small and geographically dispersed congregation. It had the added challenge of being part of a dual parish, of which it was the smaller congregation. As such, their pastor lived off-site, in another town twenty minutes away.


This is not unlike the story of many other CLC congregations, or congregations of other church bodies. It’s a trend not only among one or two churches, but also across our nation in congregations of every size and within all Christian denominations.

The devil would love to see Christians throw up their hands in despair and frustration and resign themselves to the thought that their impact on society is worthless, or that their work and role as part of Christ’s church on earth is never going to bear fruit in our current culture. But the Lord assures us that His Word is effective in the hearts and lives of sinners, whether we see it or not: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) We need to hold on to this promise from the Lord!

At one point several years ago the congregation considered selling the church property and either meeting in the homes of members or finding a space that would be less costly. Instead, the members decided to keep the property and the beautiful old church where the congregation has worshiped the Lord of promise for over fifty years. They have continued to invest both time and money into maintaining and improving it. A substantial amount of money was spent to replace the old “knob and tube” wiring in a building that was built in 1891, in order to address safety concerns. The three-season porch on the back of the attached parsonage was repaired, including the installation of new windows and a new exterior door. A crew of congregational volunteers removed the old siding on the detached parsonage garage, which was then resided with new vinyl siding.

Sunday school teacher and student
Sunday school teacher and student

A little over a year ago the congregation celebrated its sixtieth anniversary (two years late due to COVID and other factors). A former pastor of Faith, Bruce Naumann, served as the guest preacher for the anniversary service, and we were joined by many former members of Faith from years past. Following the anniversary service, attendees gathered for fellowship, during which we reviewed the congregation’s history. That history was joyfully and humorously supplemented with stories and recollections from current and former members alike. It was a needed reminder that faith is indeed “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

During the last couple years, the Lord has blessed Faith with both numerical and spiritual growth. Several families have transferred to Faith from other CLC congregations, giving the existing members valuable support and encouragement. The congregation has sponsored a couple of community seminars over the past few years on the topics of Christianity and education. Two years ago, we sponsored a community Christian music festival in connection with our fall mission festival service, to which the community was invited. These haven’t produced the visible results that we hoped for, but we keep trying, holding on to the Lord’s promise that His Word will be effective. We have had relatives and people from the community join us for worship and show interest in joining our fellowship. In addition, we rejoice in the spiritual growth which the Lord has brought about. The congregation has a lively and active Bible study group which inspires everything else the congregation does. Although the congregation has only one Sunday-school aged child that is in church regularly, they have decided to revitalize a regular Sunday school program. Plans are to advertise to our community this special opportunity for Christian education in a number of ways in the coming months, as we look to the start of a new school year in the fall.

Some members of Faith on a recent Sunday
Some members of Faith on a recent Sunday

The members and pastors come and go through a congregation’s history. It gathers for Baptisms and confirmations, weddings and burials. The people change and the faces change. But the Apostle Peter reminds us, “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25) It is that enduring truth of God’s Word which comforts and strengthens us, and which we are privileged to proclaim!

Nathanael Mayhew was recently installed as associate pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Mankato, Minnesota. He is a former pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in New Ulm.