In 1994, a small group of believers in rural McAlisterville, Pennsylvania, concerned about the direction of the ELCA, began meeting together with the hope of forming a new congregation that believed in the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word. Ultimately, this led to our becoming a member congregation of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren in 1995—a congregation known as Good News Lutheran Brethren Church. Nearly 23 years and four pastors later, we’ve experienced great joy and celebrations, and great heartbreak and challenges. But throughout our short history, God has always been at work, leading and providing by his means and in his time.
In the last few years, we’ve seen growth both numerically and as hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit through the means of the Word. In 2010, our worship attendance was regularly in the 50s. Since then, our average attendance has grown to 120—increasing more than 100%, with a 17% increase in 2016 alone. In 2010, we had about 40 Confessing Members. Today, that number has grown to nearly 100, with 15 new members joining us this past October. Having previously experienced years in which there were no baptisms, we had eight in 2016. Our children’s and adult Sunday School programs have grown so much that we’ve run out of classroom space. Our Wednesday night Bible Studies, averaging single digit attendance five years ago, have now grown to 30+.
To minister effectively to our new members and parishioners and to harness their spiritual gifts in the service of God’s kingdom and our neighbors, we started seven new Ministry Teams over the last two years: Benevolence & Outreach, Building & Property, Children & Youth, Evangelism & Discipleship, Fellowship & Service, Prayer & Mission, and Worship & Music. Our teams, composed of about 60 willing servants, meet the first Wednesday evening of every month to address the needs of these ministry areas. Together in Christ, we plan, encourage, pray, fellowship and build each other up as we invite others to become disciples of Jesus.
Similar to the early church described in Acts 6, our growth created a need for raising up servants to aid our three elders and pastor in their care of the body. Our Deacon Team, formed in 2011, has now grown to nine men and women who support the ministry of the Word by caring for the physical, emotional and relational needs of those in our congregation. These leaders, along with our ten trustees—who are responsible for the financial and property concerns of Good News—work together closely as we vision for the future.
We are presently in the beginning stages of a building project to address our class and meeting room needs. Additionally, we are praying for and patiently awaiting God’s leading as we consider calling a second pastor and possibly planting another church. Through it all, we’ve had the support and encouragement of our Regional Pastor Warren Geraghty, whose wise counsel has been very instrumental in our decision making to address the growth given by the Word.
God is doing a Good Work at Good News!
Michael Edwards serves as pastor of Good News Lutheran Brethren Church in McAlisterville, Pennsylvania.