Mission Lutheran flourishes under Pastor Coppersmith
By Dana Delgado
After ignoring his English teacher’s advice in high school to acknowledge his potential and giftedness, Mike Coppersmith took an entirely different path, at least for a short while.
He enrolled at the University of Southern California with thoughts of obtaining a degree in business administration, but had a “spiritual awakening” in his very first year of college.
“I was strongly agnostic,” he said. “And here I was thinking about life and where I was headed. I found my mom’s bible and read it.”
The quiet reflective experience was “private and real” and life changing for the young college student. “Trust God as a savior,” he told himself as he began plans to transfer to a Christian university in Los Angeles from where he would later graduate. A second grade teaching assignment would soon follow at a Lutheran school in Oxnard, California. It was there that Coppersmith would find another love, his wife Donna, who happened to be a first grade teacher. Teaching and in love, his spiritual yearning continued to grow at Oxnard.
“I sensed a calling upon pastoral ministry,” he said as he eyed the seminary and eventually a post graduate study program before settling and growing a church with over 275 worshipers in Minnesota in only three years. A call, however, summoned him back to a church in California.
“The call was from Palm Springs where my father and stepmother had retired,” he said. “They were not church goers but started attending my new church. They wanted to learn about going to heaven. It became their passion for the rest of their years.”
After 40 years, Pastor Coppersmith retired as senior pastor.
In 2014, Coppersmith and his wife, a native of Abilene who attended Concordia University in Austin, moved to Texas, put down roots in Georgetown, and found Zion Lutheran Church near Walburg to call home.
It didn’t take long for the retired senior pastor to be approached about assisting with an up and coming church, Mission Liberty Hill Lutheran Church (MLH).
“Their pastor (Paul Frerichs) left in 2017 after five years and there were guest pastors for a while including me,” he said. “In 2018, they asked me to become vacancy (interim) pastor while they searched for a permanent pastor. I loved the church; it was a wonderful family but I said no.”
Eventually, he took the interim position and has been helping the congregation in their growth, transition, and search for a permanent pastor.
“It’s been a joy,” Coppersmith said as the church nears the end of its search with an announcement anticipated this summer. “This congregation has tremendous potential. It truly is a family of faith church, a special place.”
“Mission Liberty Hill Church is special in our community in that we are relatively new but have a really engaged family of members that are filled with warmth, love and care for one another,” said Bill Chapman, president of the congregation, who has high praise for their interim pastor. So enthralled with Coppersmith, the congregation is known to break out in spontaneous applause and cheers in approval following a sermon.
“We fell in love with him at first sermon,” added Chapman. “He leaves the congregation feeling uplifted in spirit and it lasts when you leave. Pastor Coppersmith has the most wonderful style of preaching and teaching. I would call it relational in that you get practical lessons that are from the Word and relatable to everyday people and life. Pastor Mike is one of the best blessings in a long list.”
To Lindsay Hunt, Worship and Administrative Coordinator at the church, the arrival and presence of Pastor Coppersmith was like a “weight lifted off our shoulders.
“He has helped us organize our ministries and worked with us through a vision process among so many other things,” Hunt said. “But the number one thing he’s done both for our congregation is challenge us scripturally. Through his sermon series, he shows us the Word and how we can apply it to our daily lives.”
The interim pastor was a “real game-changer” to Children and Youth Ministry Team Leader Vanessa Masiakowski and her family.
“My teenage son, Davey, went through confirmation last year,” she said. “He was so inspired by Pastor Coppersmith that Davey even noted Pastor’s spiritual guidance in his statement of faith; and that’s saying a lot since Pastor had just started regularly leading services,” she said. “When we drive home as a family after service, the conversation is always rich as we discuss our takeaways from the sermons. We love that Pastor Coppersmith brings humor and relevance to each and every sermon. Truly, one leaves the service feeling spiritually fed, hopeful, and encouraged as we prepare for the week ahead.”
Located among a row of nondescript storage units on State Hwy 29, the church has gone through a dramatic transformation in the last 12 months. According to Chapman, the congregation briefly moved services to the junior high while their lease location was extensively remodeled.
“The reveal Sunday was super as our sanctuary was revealed and unrecognizable from the old warehouse look to a very nice and warm interior,” he said. “Our giving increased and our attendance nearly doubled. People visit like crazy before worship and may hang out for an extra hour to continue to catch up with each other.”
Church officials say that short and long term planning includes bringing in more involvement while extending their outreach to the community. Currently, Mission Liberty Hill hosts of the annual community Easter Egg Hunt in Lions Foundation Park, participates in other community festivals, partakes in the Oatmeal Festival in Bertram, and conducts a Trunk or Treat event at Halloween. The church also holds food drives and supports Operation Liberty Hill and first responders with a variety of projects.
With a strong focus on service, the youth group has also been very active. They have gifted teachers with treats and notes of encouragement, have done community roadside clean-ups, and do small acts of kindness to brighten someone’s day. Recently, the group held a spaghetti dinner and donated all of the funds raised to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“Mission Liberty Hill really is a very giving and welcoming place and Pastor Coppersmith is so special in connecting with the heart and souls of people,” said Clay Cole, Team Leader of Community Service who also was one of the founding members of the church.
Future plans call for a new permanent church building at a nine-acre site near the intersection of U.S. Hwy 183 and Hwy 29. The property was donated by the late Richard Steyer and his family.
“The church looks forward to getting underway with a new campus there in the near future,” said Chapman. “We have our eye on the huge movement here by young families. We are planning to welcome them and bring them to a relationship with Christ.”
Additional information on worship services, youth programs, and the church’s calendar, is available at www.missionlibertyhill.com.