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God's steady and constant grace on display at Living Promise, Morristown, Tenn.

In March 2012, Forward in Christ introduced its readers to Living Promise, Morristown, Tenn., a home mission approved for support from WELS Home Missions in 2011. The same year, Matthew Westra, a 2011 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., was assigned to serve as Living Promise’s home missionary. The conclusion of the 2012 article read, “Reaching out in this predominantly Baptist area is a big undertaking for such a small congregation, but with God’s guiding hand and the support of WELS members far and wide, Westra says that Living Promise feels confident in its future. He notes, ‘We may not be the biggest church or have the fanciest worship facility. I may not be the best preacher. But people are showing up, and you can’t give the credit to anyone but God. It’s exciting to imagine what God has in store for us.’ ”

So, where are they now?
small group of church members and large group of church members
Matthew Westra and his wife, Rachel, arrived in Morristown in July 2011. The congregation he first served consisted of five members, who were joined at his installation (left) by some of the pastors and other WELS members who helped the mission before he arrived. On Aug. 13, 2023, Living Promise had 152 worshipers in a service to celebrate the opening of Living Promise Academy, an early childhood ministry that is serving 23 students in its first year. Westra notes, “As much as I love hearing the Bible stories of the lions’ mouths being closed and thousands being baptized, I am more amazed at the steady and constant grace God gives. More than 100 people now gather here on a Sunday. Every Sunday, sins are forgiven and Christ is seen more clearly. People walk out the doors and the love they have been shown by God spills into their homes and world. The very next week it happens again. It might not make headlines, but it is this steady and constant grace that causes me to whisper a quiet and heartfelt ‘thank you.’ ”

Check out more news from the October issue:

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Vietnam pastors
This July, God’s grace could again be seen on WELS’ work in Vietnam with the formal building dedication of the new Theological Education Center in Hanoi and the graduation ceremony of the first class of 55 pastors from the Hmong Fellowship Church who have . . .

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