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In January of 2023 Pastor Jeff Mueller and his wife Lynda received the call to serve Waikoloa Lutheran  Church located on the northwest side of the big island of Hawaii. Born and raised in Hood River Valley, OR - these two high school sweethearts have been married for 45 years serving in full time ministry almost every step of the way. The Muellers have two married children and five thriving grandsons. Both of their adult children and their spouses are actively involved in professional Christian ministry in Oregon and California. Jeff and Lynda are so grateful and honored to have the Lord bring them to what they have always called their “Heart’s Home”- The Big Island of Hawaii.


While Waikoloa Lutheran has always had their sights set on building a permanent facility, from its official inception into the LCMS in 2006 up until this point, the small but faithful congregation has been worshipping in homes and local rental facilities. Land was purchased in 2016 and architectural drawings have been created for a sanctuary and multipurpose space connected by a covered outdoor lanai for gatherings. Waikoloa Lutheran hopes to break ground soon for this important construction project, and in the meantime, the congregation is working on a fun strategy to build positive rapport with the community surrounding their church property.  

In his previous congregation, Immanuel Lutheran in Hood River, Oregon, Pastor Jeff had a large wooden bear statue on the corner of their parsonage property across from their church on the busiest intersection in town. The bear shared weekly wise or witty messages and matching decorations that over the years became an popular icon in the town. Buster the State Street Bear has over 2000 followers on his Facebook page. When people met Pastor Jeff and realize he’s the "bear guy" they instantly had a positive connection with him and his church. He shared that “It was the best PR we ever had for the 12 years I served in Hood River.” 


Fast forward to the spring of 2024 on the Big Island of Hawaii – with the same positive community connection in mind – “Waikoloa’s Wise and Witty Whale Walther” was born. This bright and fun 10 foot roadside fixture will give the community something to talk about with each new weekly message and bring a positive light-hearted first impression to the neighborhood as the church prepares to break ground on their permanent facilities in a perfect location directly adjacent to a public elementary school. Beyond the plywood whale, Pastor Jeff and the people of Waikoloa Lutheran have big plans to share the Gospel and the hope of Jesus through community events in the years to come through VBS, extended summer camps, after school programs, youth group events, outreach events for Halloween, Christmas, and Easter; and possibly as a community meeting place for AA or NA or OA. 


In Pastor Jeff’s own words: “I am sure God will lead us into many other wild and crazy outreach endeavors on the property.”


So how about you? Where can you add a touch of ministry marketing creativity to make a positive impact? What would it look like to use your facility to be a blessing in your community? What could you do this year to be a good neighbor to the people who drive by every day?

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