Who Are We?
Abiding Hope exists to share the love of God in Christ as we rejoice together in the full and free forgiveness that our Savior, Jesus, has won for all people. As a family of believers, we gather together for worship, Bible study, and fellowship to be strengthened in faith and to support and encourage one another. At the same time, we pray that the Lord would give us the opportunity to reach out to our community with the good news of salvation in Jesus and by the Spirit’s power bring many others into God’s kingdom through faith.
Our congregation got its start when Pastor Paul Lemke arrived in Ocala in the fall of 1984 to begin a new mission church. As the Lord blessed the faithful work of Pastor Lemke a core group of believers began gathering for worship and Bible study in various temporary locations until the current property was purchased and the church built in 1990. The Lord has continued to bless Abiding Hope over the years and we look forward to serving our members and the community with the gospel for many years to come.
Pastor Chris Rathje was called to serve the congregation in July of 2014 following the retirement of Pastor Lemke. Originally from Saginaw, MI, Pastor Rathje graduated from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, WI in 2007 with a Masters of Divinity. He and his wife Beth have been married since 2004 and have been blessed with three wonderful girls. For the first seven years of his ministry Pastor Rathje served Immanuel Lutheran Churches in Springerville and Taylor, AZ. He and his family now live at the Abiding Hope church parsonage and feel blessed to call Ocala home.
Our National CHurch Body (WELS)
Through our connection to our national church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), we help spread God’s kingdom throughout the world. Founded in Wisconsin in 1850, the WELS has grown to a group of nearly 400,000 men, women, and children in nearly 1,300 congregations across the United States and Canada united by a common faith in Christ’s saving love. We are committed to a common calling—encouraging each other in our faith and sharing God’s gift of our Savior, Jesus, with the rest of the world. For more information about the WELS, go to www.wels.net.