About Living Word : Our History
A Brief History of Living Word
Originally compiled by Ron Arndt (1934-2005)
5/24/00 - Task Force Members received a letter from the Southeastern Wisconsin District Mission Board (DMB) Chairman, Pastor Tom Kneser, asking them to meet with other members from Mt. Calvary (Waukesha), Grace (Waukesha), St. Pauls (Muskego), St. Pauls (East Troy), Star of Bethlehem (New Berlin), Trinity (Waukesha), St Johns (Lannon), Christ (Pewaukee), and Zion (Hartland) at Mt. Calvary. During that first meeting, Task Force Members were informed of the need to fill 'gaps' in the Waukesha area. The idea was not to build more churches for current WELS members to transfer to but to reach the 6000 people in the area who did not have a church home. Task Force Members broke into teams that would attempt to locate an area for such outreach within a reasonable working distance from their respective home churches. John Bartleson (Mt. Calvary), Don Wilke (Trinity), and Ron Arndt (Grace) were to research the Town of Waukesha.
Task Force Members and the DMB agreed at that meeting that very little would be accomplished unless they had the support of established churches in the area. Therefore, a 17 Mother-Daughter concept was arrived at. Seventeen area churches would be asked to support one outreach effort in the Waukesha area. It was also agreed that Task Force Members -- not the local pastors -- would do the reasearch thus eliminating a 'favored' location or 'stepping on a Sister's toes'.
Task Force Members subsequently met at members' homes and at Mt. Calvary with Pastor Kneser and Pastor Papenfuss. They looked at Area Maps and SWERPEC Maps, discussed logistics, examined statistics, considered financials, and conducted initial talks with Town Fathers. They finally determined that the Waukesha West High School area would be a starting point, with the whole of the Town of Waukesha (24 square miles) as possible sites.
Follow-up meetings were held with the intent to prove to the DMB that such a project could indeed be successful. Don Wilke, John Bartleson, and Ron Arndt spoke to the congregations of the three Waukesha churches on various Sundays and were in constant contact with the 17 Mothers, the Hope Mission in Oconomowoc, and the already-forming 'core' members, volunteers, and other interested people. John and Don worked chiefly on the financial and logistics aspects while Ron headed up communication. Pastor Papenfuss encouraged the participation of the leaders of the 17 Mother congregations. The DMB accepted the proof that the Task Force presented and okayed continuing outreach efforts in the designated areas. Local realtors were contacted for information, and the Seminary's Business Department provided Community Profiles.
4/6/01 - Letters were sent to 'target' families (Core Members) inviting them to meet with Task Force Members at the now almost bi-weekly meetings. Community Profiles continued to be formulated.
5/15/01 - The first Informational Meeting of Task Force and Core Members was held. Letters were sent to the 17 Mothers' respective Church Councils to keep them updated on the interest level of the Core Families. The Councils were invited to express whatever concerns they may have had.
7/31/01 - At a meeting on this date, demographics were addressed. A discussion worksheet was developed for future meetings. Attendees were advised that it would take $150,000 to begin a new mission church. Pastor Kneser and the DMB formulated a budget for the as yet unnamed Exploratory. More letters had by this time been sent to the 17 Mothers asking that they acknowledge their interest level. The DMB requested that Core Members express their interest level and possible financial commitment to the Exploratory. A directory of all interested parties was compiled and communication with them was emphasized. Hope (Oconomowoc) freely provided information per their experience on mission building. Prayers from all interested in this venture were requested.
Pastor Kneser was given permission to call a pastor for the Exploratory. The Task Force requested physical help from area congregations, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Wisconsin Lutheran High School, and Kingdom Workers for future door-to-door surveying. A budget was ironed out for 2003-04. At this point there were about 50 'core' souls committed to supporting the Exploratory. Possible names for the now likely Exploratory were presented by Core Members.
9/28/02 - The rationale requesting approval to go ahead with the Exploratory was presented to the DMB by Pastor Kneser.
10/8/02 - A Cottage Meeting and Barbecue was held at Mt. Calvary. DMB, Task Force, and Hope Mission speakers were present. From this point, the Task Force ceased to be an entity, and an interim leadership was formed to serve the new Exploratory. Volunteer members included Co-chairmen Don Wilke and Ron Arndt, Treasurer John Bartleson, Co-secretaries Gary and Karen Sonnenberg, and Land Search Personnel Mike Nichols and Todd Olear. Many other members volunteered to serve as needed.
10/25/02 - Pastor Papenfuss continued informational encouraging with his Brothers. Pastor Ed Schuppe became involved in discussions leading to the call of a pastor.
11/1/02 - Meeting agenda items included member functions and participation, leadership, outreach and fellowship, immediate and final locations for further meetings, and conducting 'practice' worship services. Pastor Larry Gates (Trinity) advised the group about how to have a successful outreach based on his experiences.
Pastor John Borgwardt was extended a divine call to serve the Exploratory.
12/6/02 - Pastor Borgwardt accepted the call.
12/20/02 - Realtor Gerhardt Lambrecht (Trinity) offered a house on Lawnsdale for rent. This property became the parsonage for Pastor John, his wife Sara, and their children Emory and Nate.
1/5/03 - Pastor Borgwardt was installed at a ceremony held at Grace (Waukesha). Blessings from many of his colleagues, friends, and family were bestowed on his new endeavor.
Under Pastor Borgwardt's guidance, Wednesday night Bible Study/Business Meetings were held beginning shortly after his installation. During that time, members formed more well-defined roles and closer friendships. Living Word was chosen as the name for the Exploratory. Survey maps were generated and routes were laid out for canvassers to follow. Core Members and volunteers from the 17 Mothers and elsewhere canvassed the area near Waukesha West High School in the spring and summer of 2003. Rose Glen Elementary School was rented as a place of worship. Living Word members constructed signs and banners for directing people to services. They formed a Sunday School, came to a consensus over a logo, gathered a music committee, and performed the many and varied tasks necessary to prepare for initial worship services.
9/7/03 - 159 people worshipped the Lord at Living Word's 'Grand Opening' Service. Shortly after that service and continuing into October volunteers rang doorbells of about 2000 homes, sent out thousands of mailings, and held a Bible Carnival. Pastor Borgwardt baptized two babies and began Bible Instruction Classes.
1/11/04 - The worship service held this day included special recognition of about 50 Founding Members.