Living Faith, a Congregation Under Development, in Tradition (Port St. Lucie), FL is in the last stages of development before organizing as a congregation of the ELCA. Living Faith, under the pastoral direction of Pr. Maryanne Kehlenbach, began as a mission start in July, 2013. Since then, it has expanded and strengthened its ministry and community, and will soon be an organized congregation. On April 2, the community gathered to begin the process of signing the charter, which included signatures of more than 145 people (including the stamped footprint of an infant). The charter-signing was complete by April 30, just before the congregation’s organizing meeting.
In the ELCA, a mission start is identified based on potential growth and ministry opportunities. There are a variety of ways a mission start becomes an organized congregation. In many cases, a mission developer, working closely with the Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM), is assigned and works to foster and grow a worshipping community. Many ministry partners are involved in assessing, developing, and strengthening a community growing into a congregation. In the case of Living Faith, Immanuel Lutheran in Palm City saw the potential for a new congregation in the Tradition community of Port St. Lucie and worked with the Florida-Bahamas Synod and the ELCA Domestic Mission Unit to identify a mission developer. Pastor Maryanne was called to serve as mission developer with financial support coming from Immanuel Lutheran Church, the ELCA Domestic Mission Unit, the Florida-Bahamas Synod, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Juno Beach, the Tradewinds Conference and Spirit of Grace Lutheran Church in New Port Richie. Besides financial support, Pr. Maryanne participated in ongoing formation and training through the ELCA’s mission developer ministry, and was supported by colleagues throughout the church. These partnerships have been valuable in this community’s ability to now be in the final phase of development is to develop a charter, and establish all the necessary constitutional requirements to become a congregation. This process of developing a congregation is one example of the significant partnerships between the local, synod and churchwide expressions of the church. Since their beginning, the people of Living Faith have committed to providing 15% of their offerings to Mission Support, have given $ 50,000 to date, and will continue to do so.
Pr. Maryanne was called as the mission developer to Living Faith in (2013), and will continue to serve Living Faith as its first pastor. Support from mission partners will continue to sustain and strengthen the ministry of Living Faith until it becomes financially self-sufficient.
“It is such an exciting time for the Living Faith worshipping community,” said Pr. Maryanne about this season of development, “and we thank all God’s people throughout the Florida-Bahamas Synod for their encouragement and prayers. We ask for continued prayers during this time.”
Living Faith Lutheran Church will be recognized as a new congregation at this year’s Synod Assembly.