Prince of Peace Lutheran Church is an active faith community that lives out their Gospel calling through hospitality, both for the greater community, and through caring for each other. They are located in southwest Michigan, in the City of Portage, nestled just to the south of the slightly larger City of Kalamazoo. The church was planted in 1963; the same year that Portage became a city.
In 1961, the American Lutheran Church decided to start a mission in the Kalamazoo area. They purchased the land where the church still sits today, and launched Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. They built a basic sanctuary and called the Rev. Rex Heidmann to be the first pastor. They were formally organized with 204 charter members on May 19, 1963.
In 1967 they built an education wing onto the main sanctuary, adding eight classrooms. In 1977 they added on again for a total expansion of 5,000 square feet. More classrooms were added in 1986, and in 1988, they purchased and installed a 13-rank Lauck pipe organ for $38,000. The entire cost of the organ was covered through special donations. Before long, it was time to consider a much larger building process, and to prepare for that, the 12 acres behind the existing 6.7 acre plot were purchased in 1995. Pastor Pederson led the congregation in a large-scale building campaign that doubled the size of the existing building by adding a new sanctuary, gathering space, and nurseries. The old sanctuary was converted into a gym, and the kitchen between the now-gym and fellowship hall was expanded. The cost of the project was $2.4 million, and was completed in 1998. The mortgage for that building project was paid off in 2009.
Numerous extra ministry projects over many years have been funded by this congregation, outside of the regular operating budget. Among these projects have been our Youth Minister's seminary tuition, but also in the last 10 years, the congregation took on the restoration and remodel of a home for an organization in Kalamazoo called Open Doors, which serves to provide graduated housing assistance to those coming out of homelessness. Over $25,000 was raised for the Open Door house, but most of the actual labor was done by members of the congregation. Once that home was completed, we took over the project management for another Open Door property, and have continued to raise funds for this ongoing work.
Prince of Peace also became a sponsor congregation for several Syrian Muslim refugee families that were relocated to the Kalamazoo area, and while the refugee resettlement program has ceased, our sponsorship of the families that came remains in place. Funding for that program has come to roughly $5,000, as well as in-kind donations of all the household items and furniture needed to set up new homes. The deeper story of that work is in the team of 25 people who personally worked with the Kalamazoo Islamic Center and Samaritas (formerly Lutheran Social Services of Michigan) to coordinate all the details of the resettlement and to be those who helped integrate these new families into our community.
Each year, the congregation also donates an additional $5,000-$7,000 to the “Youth Trip Fund.” While the budget for youth ministry at Prince of Peace is already one of the largest, and a portion of the high school budget is also used to help pay for the summer trip, the congregation still chooses to support the youth beyond the operating budget. For this reason, we can fully fund our adult leaders who volunteer, and cover almost all of the cost of our mission trips for the youth participants. Our philosophy is that no child should ever forego participation because they can’t afford it.
We are located in a vibrant area with a lot going on, and we want to help keep it that way, so the congregation and leadership at Prince of Peace feels that it is our mission to serve the needs of the community by helping to house other non-profit organizations.