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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Mavericks' for mission

Southeastern Lutherans plant churches through worshiping communities

In the Southeast — where outreach dollars and Lutherans are scarce — they don't plant congregations the old-fashioned way. "We generally don't jump in with a full-blown mission start and a full-salary pastor/developer," says Richard Gantt, an ELCA regional outreach director. "With limited resources, we've begun to look more seriously at the concept of starting with a worshiping community, then building toward a fully staffed situation."

Nineteen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's 68 synodically approved worshiping communitie s bring a Lutheran presence to the mostly Baptist Southeast. "One of our strategies is to plant Lutheran worship communities in small towns," Gantt says. "Money is lacking for pastor/developers, so we take small risks. Some are paying off."

One of these communities — Faith Lutheran Chapel — was started when Sigurd Arnesen, a retired pastor, placed an ad saying, "Lutherans, Lutherans, come out, come out, wherever you are." As a result 20 people worship on Sundays in Helen, Ga. They also hold a Monday morning contemporary service for merchants and tourists at a local restaurant.


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