Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40


On April 30, 1969, a general meeting of area Lutherans was held at Umberger Funeral Chapel in Waverly, Nebraska. During that meeting, attendees decided that a mission congregation should be formed, thus appointing a committee.

 

The committee began work on May 14, 1969, focusing on the beliefs that their work was guided by the will of God, there was potential to grow a congregation and that God would carry out these tasks through His people. They proceeded with arrangements for a worship facility, an education program and a pastor to lead services. During this time the mission project was called The Lutheran Mission, Waverly.

 

The first worship service was held at Umberger Funeral Chapel on September 7, 1969 at 9:00 a.m. The service, attended by 119 worshippers, was led by Pastor Arnold Krugler, Associate Professor of Theology at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska. Sunday school followed the service at 10:15 a.m. Midweek pre-confirmation classes began at the same facility on September 17, 1969.

 

With assistance from Concordia College, Professor Krugler, Professor David Meyer and Professor Manfred Kriwan served as pastors at the mission. On December 17, 1969, the committee voted to call Reverend Roland Hischke of Alpa, Minnesota. Pastor Hischke accepted the call and was installed on February 15, 1970. Pastor Hischke also served Holy Cross in Lincoln.

 

In the January 1970 voters meeting, a resolution to charter Peace Lutheran church in the month of April was passed. At that time, charter members transferred their membership from their former congregations. During the voters meeting on April 20, 1970, officers were elected. At this time, the Peace congregation consisted of 141 members, of which 70 were communicants and spanned 32 families.

 

In July 1971, the congregation purchased land and, in September, agreed to build a facility. A ground breaking service was held on March 19, 1972. During construction, Pastor Hischke became the full-time pastor at Holy Cross. Pastors Gruett and Koenig of Calvary in Lincoln filled in during the vacancy. The first worship service in the new facility was held on February 4, 1973. By this time, the Peace congregation had grown to 263 members. The facility was dedicated on September 9, 1973.

 

Pastor Justin Burns accepted a call to be Peace’s first full-time pastor and was installed April 1, 1973 and served the congregation until June 15, 1975.

 

Since then, Peace has been shepherded by Pastor Eugene Gierke (April 1977-June 1991) and Pastor Kenneth Hoover (December 1991-October 2004). Pastor Neil Wheeler was installed on August 7, 2005 and is presently serving at Peace.

 

In 2008, the ministry directors began discussing what type of ministry would have the most impact on the community. After many discussions, the directors determined that the community would benefit most from a childcare center/preschool. Due to the success of a day camp held that summer, the ministry was extended to become an early childhood center. On September 22, 2010, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Peaceful Beginnings Early Childhood Center (PBECC). The goal of the center is “to reach children and parents with the Word of God, so that lives may be changed and hearts touched for Jesus Christ”.

 

PBECC currently employs two full-time teachers, as well as multiple before- and after-school staff, caring for a total of 117 children. The child care license for the State of Nebraska enables Peaceful Beginnings to enroll up to 120 children from ages 18 months to 13 years.

 

Also in 2008, a Building Committee was formed to address current and future space needs for the congregation. This Committee solicited several design firms to develop a master plan that would best meet the ministry needs of the church, as well as address some remodeling concerns within the existing facility. Concurrently with the design process, discussions with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) began. The LCEF provided a systematic program to analyze both the physical needs and funding capacity of the congregation. Under the LCEF’s guidance, a three-year Capital Stewardship Campaign began in the summer of 2010 which successfully raised the necessary funds to proceed with a large expansion/remodel project. In late 2010, a ground-breaking ceremony was held and construction began on a three phase project that would more than double the space available for ministry, as well as update nearly all of the areas within the existing building.

 

Phase I included the construction and completion of the Ministry Activity Center (MAC). The MAC now houses contemporary worship space, reception areas, a new kitchen, fellowship space, indoor play area, a youth room and meeting space. The MAC was dedicated to the Lord’s service in October 2011.

 

Phase II began in September of 2012 and utilized the services of Laborers for Christ, another organization affiliated with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The Laborers worked with volunteers from the congregation to remodel the administrative area of the existing church building. The office now ties the “old” and “new” parts of the facility together and creates an efficient workspace for the staff.

 

Phase III will complete the remodel of the original sanctuary, which remains in use for traditional worship services. The entire sanctuary will be updated and enlarged, with an expanded chancel area and an upgraded sound and lighting systems. This phase will begin as soon as funds are available.

 

The Lord has graciously provided Peace with the people and resources to grow from a few families in 1969 to a congregation of more than 459. While many original members are still active in ministry today, the congregation has moved forward to meet changing ministry needs. God willing, Peace will continue to grow and serve in Waverly for generations to come!

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Glory to God alone!