David Sprang, pastor at Christ the King, Gladwin, Michigan, describes a faith community where “the mission spirit is still there,” almost 22 years after the congregation was constituted in April 1986 and almost 18 years after it moved into its current building in June 1990.
Christ the King became a self‑supporting ELCA congregation in March 1994 and has annually assisted four mission congregations with $1,500 each through special offerings as a Mission Partner: Living Hope, Farwell; Light of Christ, Standish; Bread of Life, Jennison; and Advent, Lake Ann. The five congregations communicate regularly to encourage and thank one another.
Each January, Christ the King's members prepare for another year as a Mission Partner by voting on options of potential mission development sites provided by the Northwest‑Lower Michigan Synod.
“Most are multi‑year commitments,” said Sprang. “Congregation members like that they have a voice in this decision.” Christ the King requests a new mission site as soon as one of the congregations it has been assisting becomes self‑supporting.
The American Lutheran Church, an ELCA predecessor body, began providing prayer and planning support in a similar spirit for Christ the King in 1983 after pastors and lay people saw the potential for a mission congregation in the rapidly‑growing Gladwin County area of the northeast central lower peninsula.
Meanwhile, Pastor Roger Hardy, Christ the King's original mission developer, sees mission development as a “gift of the ELCA,” that works as a partnership between local and national expressions of the church. “Leaders are being asked to step forward in significant ways,” said Hardy, “and they need to continue to be supported in taking risks as entrepreneurs with new and redeveloping congregations.”
With Sprang's leadership, the congregation now participates in synod mission trips abroad, partners with Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Builds, and provides Stephen's Ministry, bell choir, and Kids Club programs.
The congregation also sold the parsonage to Sprang and established a mission endowment fund with the proceeds. “The original gift of the parsonage from the Mission Partners will keep on giving,” said Sprang.