Liberty Hill welcomes first full-time Lutheran minister

By KATE LUDLOW

Pastor Paul Frerichs (right) participates in a Vacation Bible School activity with the young people this week. (Photo by Kate Ludlow)

Mission Liberty Hill Lutheran Church is installing its first full-time pastor on Sunday, and Pastor Paul Frerichs says it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“This is Vacation Bible School week. It’s the best week of the year. There is so much life in the church. The kids are all here. I have always loved Vacation Bible School week,” he said.

For a man who has only been in Liberty Hill one week, Pastor Frerichs is already showing an impressive desire to ingrain himself within the community, part of a tradition of community outreach that Mission Liberty Hill established from day one.

“I don’t plan on spending much time in my office. Right now, I’m doing a lot of listening. I’ve got my ideas, but I’m interested in the thoughts of the people. They know the Liberty Hill community better than I do. I’m just learning. An understanding of the community will come on its own,” he said.

For Pastor Frerichs, it was the opportunity to work with a brand new congregation that spurred him to move his family here from Portland, Oregon. Before coming to Liberty Hill, he led Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for nine years — the church that his father helped build and where his mother was a Junior Confirmand. His father was a Lutheran Pastor for 43 years before his retirement. That created in Pastor Frerichs a lifelong desire to answer what he refers to as “the call.”

“The church called, and the process (of his coming here) started in December of 2011. The Texas District of the Lutheran Church asked if I would be interested in coming here,” he said. “As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to the call, if I’m not saying yes, I’m not listening to the word of Jesus.”

Pastor Frerichs interviewed in January with Executive Pastor Jim Craver of Zion Lutheran Church in Walburg, which is Mission Liberty Hill’s mother church. The next day he received a call saying they were impressed, and by mid-March, he had been elected to lead Mission Liberty Hill. Pastor Frerichs takes the place of part-time Pastor Wilbern Michalk.

Moving his wife, Deborah, and their three children, Andrew, 14, Miriam, 12, and Seth, 9, couldn’t have been easy, but Pastor Frerichs took the ease with which it happened as a sign.

“When I told my friends and family about it, they all said, ‘that ministry fits you. This is where you need to be.’ Then, our house in Portland sold very quickly in a not-that-great economy,” he said. “From listing to closing, it was only 47 days. I knew then that God wanted me. That’s why it was very fast. He was saying, ‘I want you in Liberty Hill, Texas.’”

“I love small towns,” says Pastor Frerichs. “The challenge is that this is a mission start.”

Liberty Hill’s Lutheran endeavor proved to be a great opportunity for him. The story of Mission Liberty Hill is positive. It’s grown rather quickly — from a small bible study group to 120 in last Sunday’s worship service.

“It’s very exciting to see that, the possibility of experiencing the birthing of a church,” he said.

His family is also getting involved in the church.

“My kids are hoping to start a youth group here. They ask me every morning,” he said.

Pastor Frerichs also hopes to introduce couples classes, marriage classes and parenting classes to Mission Liberty Hill’s offering.

Though he does not officially begin his position at the church until an installation service July 15, Pastor Frerichs has already preached his first sermon here.

“I got a call about 8:30 the night before that Pastor Michalk wasn’t feeling well, and wanted me to fill in,” he said. “I sat down, and in longhand wrote out my sermon. My computer was still packed up. It went well.”

That day, he spoke of Psalm 33:12, fitting as it was three days before Independence Day.   “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…”

Mission Liberty Hill celebrated its second anniversary in May.

The church is hosting an installation service at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 15, at the Liberty Hill High School cafeteria and the public is welcome.

Pastor Frerichs said he hopes to see new faces in church each Sunday.

“Come and have fun with us. It is interesting and exciting times to be in Liberty Hill,” he said.

His first sermons will be a series on the Food of Life, he said.

“It will be from Mark 6 and John 6. The feeding of the masses. The theme is more than enough,” he said.

Mission Liberty Hill is located 15725 W. State Highway 29. For more information, visit the church website at www.missionlibertyhill.org.