Geneva Mission

Published on March 3rd, 2021

At its December meeting, the Indiana District Board of Directors approved financial support for a mission effort in northeast Indiana. Inaugurated by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through the faithful ministry of Rev. Donald Sauls (CTS 1984), this mission effort is in and around Geneva, Indiana. Rev. Sauls meets people through his work as Executive Director of Compassionate Ministries Network in Berne, IN, and he gathers anyone with interest for bible studies on Thursday mornings in Geneva. After several of these studies, the participants asked to attend church services, so Rev. Sauls began bringing them with his family every Sunday to St. John (Bingen) in Decatur, IN. (St. John, Bingen serves as sponsor to this important work with the prayer that the Lord wills for a congregation to be established in Geneva.) After visiting St. John for several weeks, the bible study participants expressed their desire to receive the Lord’s Sacraments, so Rev. Sauls began a second class on Saturday afternoons during which he teaches Luther’s Small Catechism. Lord willing, these children of God will acknowledge the gifts God gave them in Holy Baptism through the rite of confirmation at this year’s Easter Vigil. 

The three known churches (all non-Lutheran) already established in Geneva are small and mostly inactive. As far as we know, no one else is actively attempting to reach the residents of this community with the gifts of God in Christ. Thus, there seems to be great opportunity to welcome many more in and around Geneva into the Lord’s holy little flock. To be sure, there are significant challenges to such mission work and those it seeks to serve. These challenges include the prevalence of drugs and alcohol, rampant unemployment, mental and physical disability, and other factors which many parish pastors (and congregations) are not always prepared to serve. Rev. Sauls has been working with people who face these challenges for more than twelve years, and he has developed trusting relationships with both residents and landlords of apartment buildings where many live. He rejoices that the Indiana District will be welcoming a vicar from Concordia Theological Seminary in 2021 to assist and support him in this important work of our Lord.