Our History

Our past...Our future

It’s been called the greatest announcement ever given. “Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world.” John the Baptist was the first to make this discovery and declaration of faith. And in great joy, the people of Lamb of God Lutheran Church continue to make the same discovery and declaration day in and day out. In essence, the mission of Lamb of God Church – past, present and future – is to worship and bear witness to the one who is our Savior … to “behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world.” Such a holy and high calling compels us to both celebrate our history  and champion the opportunities yet to come.

In March 1989, the Rev. Mark Bernthal was called by the Division of Outreach of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to develop plans for a new congregation in the Haines City area. In October of that same year, the first worship service was held in the Haines City Kiwanis Activity Center which would become the Sunday home for Lamb of God Lutheran Church for the next six years. In March of 1990, the opening membership charter was signed by 60 people. On March 24, Palm Sunday, 1991, Lamb of God congregation was formally organized with 110 charter members.

Lamb of God’s first building, which included fellowship space, several offices and classrooms, and our present sanctuary, was dedicated to the glory of God in July 1995. Since that time, our congregation has been blessed with growth in every phase of ministry. Guests to Lamb of God continually speak of our Spirit-led worship with inspired music and the inviting, friendly and caring nature of our members. A strong Sunday school program continues to embrace more and more children and adults alike. Active women’s and men’s organizations that reach far beyond our own church walls are another hallmark of Lamb of God.
Today, Lamb of God has grown to over 420 members. In addition, the congregation celebrates over 20 associate members and a host of “seasonal” friends who call Lamb of God their church home away from home. Sunday worship attendance grows from around 180 in the summer to over 550 in the winter! The doubling of our fellowship, kitchen, and storage space, along with expanded Sunday school classrooms, music ministry space and office expansion was completed on March 23, 2003. On February 1, 2004, Lamb of God dedicated a greatly expanded sanctuary, doubling its seating to over 300.

Our founding pastor, Rev. Mark Bernthal, accepted another call in August 2009 and Lamb of God began a period of transition in which an interim pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeannine Sweet, assumed our pastoral ministry and care beginning in October 2009. A Call Committee was elected by the congregation in September 2009 to guide the congregation through a “self-study” to write a resulting “Congregational Profile” to be approved by our members and submitted to the Bishop’s Office. The committee interviewed the pastoral candidates that the Synod office recommended (based on the profile we submit) and recommended Rev. Paul B. (Joe) Conner II best suited to fill our pastoral needs. On August 1, 2010 at a special congregational meeting voted almost unanimously to extend a Call to Ministry at Lamb of God to Pastor Joe Conner. Pastor Conner retired on April 4, 2021. Rev. Cheryl L. Berner assumed our pastoral ministry during the transition period. Currently Rev. Greg Villalon has assumed ministry leadership as we continue the call process.

As our church continues to grow, so do our ministries and our facilities. Yet, the most important growth we can pray for is continued growth in faith and trust in our Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. He alone is the reason for our being. He alone is worthy of credit and praise. He alone is deserving of our worship and witness. After all, he is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.