The prayers of the St. Stephen Lutheran Church congregation were answered when new pastor Chad Speller recently came on-board.
The church, located at 3795 Sashabaw Road in Waterford, lost its former pastor when he relocated to Wisconsin a year ago. Speller was appointed April 15 and immediately formulated an outreach plan.
“The goal is evangelism and outreach,” Speller said. “We want the community to know we’re here. Every Sunday we have 300 members at our services and there are still 71,000 people within 10 miles from us that are not here.”
He added that people everywhere are suffering during these economic times and it’s the church’s role to reach out.
“With government cutbacks, there is a huge vacuum,” he said. “While the sanctuary is a safe place, we need to bring it to the community.”
The congregation has embraced Speller, his wife, Erin, and their three boys with open arms.
“It’s unbelievable — it’s like I have hundreds of new family members. The outpouring of support has been unreal,” he said.
Just prior to Speller taking the position at St. Stephen’s, he ran Project Compassion Ministries in Detroit.
“The focus was on the elderly — an outreach to nursing home residents,” he explained. “We did summer camps, day trips, outings, and chaplaincy services in and around Detroit.”
Under Speller’s direction, the church will continue to support St. Paul’s Community Lutheran Mission financially and staff the facility with volunteers.
One of his first initiatives was to revamp the youth ministries program.
“It had fallen by the wayside so another focus is the youth. I want to see it grow exponentially,” he said. “Right now there are 23 kids involved. There’s so much opportunity like camping and canoe trips, and that kind of thing.”
Speller, a forward thinker, said he intends to expand the outreach focus in the future.
“We want to assist in anyway we can, locally, internationally, or tap into agencies like Habitat for Humanity, for example,” he said. “There’s strength in numbers.”
Speller hails from a diverse background. Prior to attending Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., he lived the life of a businessman, employed by American Axel in Detroit for 13 years.
“I was in management, manufacturing, quality, finance and maintenance for a $3- to $4-billion-a-year company,” he said. “Most pastors don’t have the business background I do.”
Speller eventually realized that it was time to abandon the business sector and help others in a more altruistic way.
“I became weary of laying people off and felt better served to help people,” he said. “Now to see smiles on faces, children laughing — it’s so rewarding and awesome.”
Learn more about St. Stephen Lutheran Church, visit www.ss-lc.com, or call 248-673-6621.