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New Journey celebrates 10th anniversary in Fountain Hills

‘Celebrate and Dream’ held Feb. 17

Posted 2/22/24

New Journey Lutheran Church (ELCA) gathered under the theme, “Celebrate and Dream” to recognize its 10-year anniversary as an established congregation.

The celebration was held at …

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New Journey celebrates 10th anniversary in Fountain Hills

‘Celebrate and Dream’ held Feb. 17


New Journey Lutheran Church (ELCA) gathered under the theme, “Celebrate and Dream” to recognize its 10-year anniversary as an established congregation.

The celebration was held at the Fountain Hills Community Center Saturday, Feb. 17, with over 70 members and friends in attendance.

Pastor David Felten of The Fountains United Methodist Church moderated a panel of New Journey Lutheran’s pastors as they shared their joys, challenges, surprises and hopes for New Journey Lutheran Church, according to a press release.

The celebration

The pastors’ panel included Crystal Steinberg, Bob Halsey, Adele Stiles Resmer and Elizabeth Gallen.

“This congregation is showing the community what it means to live the life of Christ and inviting the community in,” said Halsey.

Resmer said New Journey Lutheran Church epitomizes the quote by St. Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no hands but ours.”

Rev. Miguel Gomez-Acosta, senior director for new ministries and evangelism for the ELCA, discussed trends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Gomez-Acosta focused on the new and emerging ministry direction. ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.

Gomez gave the following statistics regarding New Journey Lutheran Church: mission support has increased by 78% and congregational giving has increased by 140% since 2012.

New Journey Lutheran has supported 24 different missions, says Roger Westland, chair of the tenth anniversary celebration.

Gomez-Acosta followed with a focused discussion on how New Journey Lutheran might envision the next 10 years.

“We often say, ‘Come to us and our space.’ However, Jesus went to people,” the press release continued. “Where can New Journey Lutheran be in the community?”

Some of the opportunities New Journey Lutheran noticed were to go where the people are, partner with others and be the light of Christ, the release said.

“We need to identify what our gifts are and strategize about how to use those gifts to serve our Fountain Hills community,” says New Journey Pastor Elizabeth Gallen.

The day concluded with a message from the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod Bishop Rev. Deborah Hutterer.

Hutterer prayed that the church remembers the past (the visions, the dreams, the struggles, the work, the leaders, and all who have contributed to the present ministry); celebrate the present (the goals accomplished, the projects completed, the barriers crossed and the leaders); anticipate the future (the yet to be developed ministries, the people waiting to be known and welcomed; and for the ways the Holy Spirit will work through the church for hope and transformation).

The celebration continued on Sunday, Feb. 18, when Pastor Elizabeth Gallen and Rev. Adele Stiles Resmer gave a collaborative sermon.

History of New Journey

In January 2010, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America members gathered for worship at The Fountains United Methodist Church in Fountain Hills with the intention of identifying as an accepting and inclusive congregation gathered around Word and Sacrament.

The Rev. Jerry Ebbinga provided leadership for this new worshipping community, and in September 2010, Rev. Crystal Steinberg was appointed by the Grand Canyon Synod (ELCA) to serve as New Journey Lutheran’s Mission Developer.

During this time, the new congregation made foundational commitments that would guide its future ministry: renting space rather than building a church building and emphasizing social ministry and outreach as core ministries, according to a press release.

In November 2011, New Journey relocated to the vacant Four Peaks Elementary School in Fountain Hills. During that year, Bob Rubenow started the first of what has become an annual Fountain Hills Community Food Pack, the release added.

This food pack involves volunteers from other churches as well as community members.

The meals that are packed go to hungry children and families through the Extended Hands Food Bank in Fountain Hills, Grace in the City outreach in Phoenix, AZ Brainfood which serves school children in the Valley and the Navajo Lutheran Mission in Rock Point, Ariz.

In addition, meals are sent through an international organization to countries experiencing food insecurity and hunger.

In May 2012, New Journey moved to its current location to a storefront at 16748 E. Parkview Ave. This location has allowed the congregation to expand as it continues to grow, the release added.

That fall, Pastor Bob Halsey became interim pastor. During Pastor Halsey’s tenure, New Journey gained formal status as a congregation within the ELCA.

Pastor Adele Stiles Resmer was the first pastor of New Journey Lutheran in June 2015. Under Pastor Resmer’s leadership, the congregation grew and expanded into additional storefront space which doubled the worship space.

Commitments to ministry with Native American people in Rock Point and in Phoenix, food ministries of Food for Kidz and Heat Respite and opening space for community activities and events all are hallmarks of this period of time, the release said.

New Journey supported a missionary in Madagascar and supports the ELCA’s World Hunger Program and Disaster Response Program.

Pastor Adele Stiles Resmer retired from her position as pastor of New Journey Lutheran Church Jan. 17, 2021.

The congregation called Pastor Elizabeth Gallen to serve as pastor of New Journey Lutheran Church March 16, 2021.

In collaboration with the congregational leaders, congregational council and ELCA congregations and leaders of the Northeast Valley Consortium, Gallen is focused on building relationships with the congregation and broader community and supporting the development of the emerging Northeast Valley Consortium (NEVC), the press release said.

The Consortium is a collaborative partnership between five congregations in the Northeast Valley that seek to do ministry in “bigger and bolder ways,” according to the release.

The congregation continues in its commitments to food justice and building relationships with ministry partners.

The people of New Journey Lutheran Church value a welcoming spirit and hospitality and are committed to serving and caring for its neighbors for the sake of the common good, the press release added.

For more information on New Journey Lutheran Church, call 602-510-7916 or visit njlc-fh.org.