M4M (Merge for Ministry)
Effective April 10, 2022
Please visit our new
M4M Better Together Merger Update Site
for all future updates.
Church Merger Name Selection Form
Merger Update March 20, 2022
In order to keep the congregation aware of the progress of the merger, there will be regularly published updates in the bulletins.
WHAT IS THE PROGRESS SO FAR?
As called for in the merger motion, a Transition Team has been chosen and had their organizational meeting. Several sub-teams have been formed to tackle various tasks involved in making the merger a reality. The teams formed are:
-Ministry - organizing services, Bible classes, outreach, etc.
-Governance - forming new constitution/by laws, winding down individual congregations
-Property - long term property usage and maintenance Finance - organizing new finances/budget
-School/Child Care - transition to merged school and child care
-Communication - new name of congregation, communicating info to members
A good number of people will be needed for each of these teams -the congregations are working on filling each of them with qualified members. If you feel you have the skills to serve on any of the teams, please contact one of the pastors and they will forward your name to the appropriate team members.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
Please contact any member of the Transition Team, or one of the pastors. We will be happy to find a way to use your skills to the benefit of the new congregation.
WHO SHOULD I CONTACT WITH CONCERNS/ QUESTIONS/IDEAS?
You can always start with the pastors, or reach out to the members of the Transition Team.
HOW OFTEN WILL THERE BE UPDATES?
There will be information in the announcements each week as a reminder of the work being done. There will be additional updates as needed based on the work being done by each committee.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
The Transition Team will be sharing updates in the bulletins on a regular basis to keep members informed. There will also be information on a transition website at www.m4mwa.com (please be patient with the formation of this site). There may be other newsletters, announcements after services, and open forums as needed depending on the importance of the information.
Please keep our new ministry in your prayers as we begin the work of merging the congregations. We will need your support and patience as we begin to work together to grow God's Kingdom in West Allis and beyond!
Transition Team Members
There were two members chosen from each of the congregations:
All pastors are also involved in the Transition Team and Ministry Team.
Unification Moves Forward: The merger proposal final vote was held on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at all three congregations to approve unification with Woodlawn and Jordan Lutheran Churches.
The results are as foillows:
Good Shepherd's - 78% in favor
Woodlawn - 82% in favor
Jordan - 92% in favor
An update on the process as Good Shepherd’s, Jordan, and Woodlawn Lutheran Churches consider merging
January 16, 2022
Merger Subcommittee Update
Our congregations formed four subcommittees as listed below to develop plans and determine feasibility of a merged congregation and school. Our primary goal was to provide the members of our congregations with a snapshot of what this newly merged congregation, school, and childcare would look like. We are not trying to work out every detail, but instead are presenting information that will allow congregational members to make an informed merger decision. These subcommittees are nearing completion of their tasks. A detailed presentation will be delivered to each congregation at the end of January or early February, and we anticipate a final vote by the end of February.
The plan being developed involves three phases that will initially make use of the facilities we currently own and transition to the final phase of a unified campus for church, school, and childcare. In this phased approach, we anticipate that we will operate our school using our two existing school buildings during the transition. However, our plan is to have unified weekend worship services at one site even as we transition to the unified campus.
Another key part of the final presentation will be a summarized multi-year unified budget. Not only to determine if we can simply afford to operate as one congregation, but to determine if we can complete necessary post-merger property improvements and financially support expanding our ministry in alliance with our outlined ministry goals. The finance subcommittee is nearing completion in answering these questions and those answers will be included in the final presentation.
Please keep in mind that the reason for these discussions has been and continues to be to determine how we can best enhance the ministry of the Gospel in West Allis. So as the congregations review the information presented and pray on it, please be careful not to get distracted by any minor perceived inconveniences but instead focus on how we can best work together for the greater glory of God. There would undoubtedly be challenges along the way, but if we work through those together then we can achieve our goal of proclaiming the message of Jesus as the Savior of the world to more people.
An update on the process as Good Shepherd’s, Jordan, and Woodlawn Lutheran Churches consider merging
October 31, 2021
We have established four subcommittees comprised of members from each of the three congregations with the goal to provide more detail about what a merged congregation would look like. These four subcommittees are: Church Ministry, Finances, Children’s Ministry, and Property. An executive committee is working closely to coordinate between the various subcommittees.
Each of the groups has had at least one meeting. While we do not have firm details to share yet, the groups are exploring how best to use the facilities that we currently own for merged church, school, and childcare ministries. We are investigating site and staffing plans for a transition phase, as well as short-term and long-term goals for a merged congregation. We are also reviewing past financial records, current assets and expenses, and building a combined budget that takes into consideration the financial implications of our short and long-term goals.
The executive committee met recently and reviewed areas where the subcommittees have overlapping interests, dependencies, or questions for each other. Overall, we are making good progress!
If you would like to speak to one of the individuals serving on these subcommittees, please do so. A list of subcommittee members is shown at the bottom of this page.
Update and plan forward - October 2021
A summary of the next steps as
Good Shepherd’s, Jordan, and Woodlawn Lutheran Churches consider merging
The M4M (Merge for Ministry) Team wants to provide answers for some of the concerns that have been expressed. If we merge, the goal is to maintain three ministry pillars: a church, school, and childcare.
In order to provide more details for what a merged congregation would look like, M4M has created an executive committee and the following subcommittees from each congregation.
- Oversee schedule and deadlines.
- Communicate progress to congregations.
- Work with subcommittees to streamline communication and produce a unified plan.
- Propose governance structure for a new congregation.
Church Ministry Subcommittee
- Propose staff (numbers not individuals) for church ministry.
- Show how we will implement ideas from our Better Together plan in the merged congregation.
- Combined assets and expenses of the existing congregations.
- Determine the debt load the congregation could support for remodeling, expansion, or new facilities.
- Assemble a high-level merged budget with a focus on promoting and expanding our ministry.
Children’s Ministry Subcommittee
- Primary focus will be on school and daycare ministry.
- Propose site options — a single campus or a dual campus using Good Shepherd’s and Woodlawn’s current sites.
- School Staff (numbers, not individuals)
- Childcare location
- Timeline for merged school
- Explore the feasibility of two options:
- a dual campus that used Good Shepherd’s and Woodlawn’s current sites
- a unified campus on one site.
- Remodeling plans and ideas and possible costs if we use current facilities (no detailed plans).
- Transition plans for church and school if there is remodeling or building that needs to be completed.
These committees will begin meeting in October. There are obviously some areas where different subcommittees will need to communicate with each other. The Executive Committee will work to make sure the lines of communication stay open and that we have a unified plan when the process is complete. The goal is to have a proposal to the congregations by January 2022. This will allow the congregations to discuss the proposal in January and then vote in February 2022 on how best to serve the Lord with our ministry.
Thank you so much to all who participated in the recent open forums and straw poll regarding participation in a potential church merger of the West Allis area WELS churches. The purpose of the poll survey was to gauge the initial response to the Better Together ministry proposal developed by the joint Merging for Mission team (M4M). The results indicate strong support at Jordan and Woodlawn. Results at Divine Peace and Good Shepherd’s were divided. Comments indicated much of the reluctance to support the merger at this time was related to a desire for more information and detail on how the plan would be implemented.
The M4M team met this past week with our synod consultant to discuss the results and options moving forward. We are currently pursuing opportunities to continue the conversations and evaluating the timeline required to develop more specifics related to the questions and concerns that were shared. Thank you for your input that has given us guidance in these next steps. Please pray that God would lead us in determining the best way we can continue to proclaim the gospel message in our community in the years ahead.
Update: January 10, 2021
The Vision of A New Ministry
Over the past three years merger discussions have been taking place between the WELS congregations in the West Allis area. Representatives from each of our churches have met regularly over the past year to further develop the idea with the assistance of a synod consultant. These discussions have led to the adoption a vision statement that summarizes this proposal.
We dream of a thriving, mission-minded church in West Allis that
is taking bold steps in faith to do something new and different to
be faithful in our mission and more effective for God's kingdom.
This new WELS church would pursue this vision by prioritizing the following values as we carry out ministry together:
Gospel-centered Biblical Truth
Welcoming Christian Community
You probably have many questions about this opportunity! A handout describing more details of this merger proposal will be available later this month. We also strongly encourage you to plan on attending the upcoming open forum at your church to discuss the ways God might make our ministries better together.
Good Shepherd's —January 24, noon
Woodlawn —February 14, 11:45 am (rescheduled)
Jordan —January 31, 2 pm
Divine Peace — February 7, 11 am
Good Shepherd's -- February 21, noon
Update: January 3, 2021
Merging in Pursuit of Mission
God our Savior "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3). These words sum up God's ultimate desire for a sinful world. the harsh reality is that sin and unbelief condemn people to an eternity in hell. But our Lord in his love wants people spared this judgment and with him in heaven. So he sent his Son Jesus to this world to accomplish our salvation on the cross.
God has engaged the church to serve a role in leading people to heaven. God's people are to proclaim the message of his word so that the Holy Spirit can change hearts. Faith comes from hearing the message that leads people to repent and believe. Until the Lord Jesus returns, we have the calling to go and make disciples through the gospel.
A New Mission Statement
The joint Merging for Mission team has developed the following mission statement to summarize this assignment from God and guide a new merged West Allis congregation in pursing our calling from God:
To personally and collectively lead all people
to know Jesus and grow in a relationship with God.
This mission statement focuses on the two-fold task of evangelism and discipleship. Our efforts would seek to bring new people to faith in Jesus and grow those believers deeper in their faith and walk with God. It is a mission in which we all have a role as individuals and by working together as the church.
A Renewed Commitment to the Mission
It can be easy to lose focus on our mission as the church. We get caught up in facility repairs and reacting to the latest funding shortfall. We can become so focused on serving our members that we lose sight of the mission field outside our doors. And personally, we can assume that sharing the gospel is the responsibility of church staff rather than God's call to all of us as witnesses in our world.
But we are the church — all of us! May God inspire in us a renewed commitment to boldly pursue our mission from God to his glory.
Update: December 27, 2020
The Potential of a Merger
Over the decades our congregation has occasionally discussed the possibility of a church or school merger. More recently formal discussions facilitated by a synod consultant have been taking place with representatives from Divine Peace, Jordan, Good Shepherd's, and Woodlawn congregations.
The outcome of this process has faced delays by COVID gathering restrictions and the complexity of four churches considering unification. However, a merger proposal is now ready for our congregations to consider in early 2021. This proposal invites our churches to participate in uniting together to form a new, thriving, and mission-focused WELS congregation in West Allis.
The Church Merger Trend
Around 2 percent of US Protestant churches merge annually — about 6,000 congregations. Another 15,000 are talking about merging in the future. Church mergers have become increasingly common over the past few decades including in the WELS.
In the past many mergers have often been driven by survival. Decline in membership, financial challenges, and aging facilities requiring extensive maintenance create a situation where congregations can often no longer exist on their own. These churches joined together to continue ministry in their community and keep a pastor on staff.
A New Kind of Merger
While many past mergers were driven by survival, lately a new type of merger has been arising. Relatively healthy congregations are seeing the potential of joining forces with other churches to be stronger and more effective for God's kingdom. These new mergers are not about survival but rather about pursuing the mission to reach more people for Christ. This new kind of merger is about being better together.
Starting in January we look forward to sharing and discussing more details about the opportunity and advantages for our congregation to participate a new mission-driven merger. Stay tuned!
Merge for Ministry Team
Leaders from Good Shepherd's, Jordan, and Woodlawn Evangelical Lutheran Churches have been discussing areas where we can work together at both the church and school level to improve the delivery of ministry to our surrounding community. In order to thoroughly explore the options, the Merge for Ministry Team was formed with members from each congregation:
Mark Kuether (GS)
Pastor Tim Wempner (GS)
Jamin Wendorf (WL)
Brian Wickland (J)
Pastor Ben Wessel (WL), chairman
Pastor Mark Aufdemberg (J)
Joel Davis (J)
Pastor Tom Kneser (WL)
Pastor Tim Wempner (GS)
Paul Wolfgramm (GS)
Jes Woller (WL)
Pastor Josh Zarling (GS)
Brian Wickland (J), chairman
John Klein (WL)
Jill Parbs (J)
Gary Schmid (GS)
Diann Schnachtschneider (GS)
Mike Strautmann (GS)
Mark Kuether (GS), chairman
Joe Becker (J)
Ryan Bogenschneider (GS)
Kevin Bush (GS)
Mike Gittins (J)
Joe Luchessi (WL)
Craig Niermann (GS)
Children’s Ministry Subcommittee
Jamin Wendorf (WL), chairman
Chris Balke (GS)
Diann Balke (GS)
Mike Henning (GS)
Shelly Nardi (GS)
Tim MacKain (J)
Jackie Schnachtschneider (J)
Becca Schwall (WL)
Nicole Wickland (J)
M4M Mission Statement:
The mission of the Merging for Ministry Team is to pursue ways to more efficiently utilize our joint resources in our church and school ministries, and to investigate where the facts lead us.