The year 1993 marked the arrival of two new pastors in Des Moines, both named Michael. One of them was Housholder and the other was Hurst. After a Des Moines Register article identified them as pastors of fast-growing congregations, they decided to meet for lunch. Regular get-togethers have continued for 27 years.
The two pastors could not be more different. Mike Housholder is Norwegian, Lutheran, from Chicago, and a graduate of Concordia College and Luther Seminary. Michael Hurst is African American, Pentecostal, from Detroit, and a graduate of Michigan State University and Colgate Rochester Divinity School.
Galatians 3:28 guided their conversation: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” They have preached numerous times in each other’s congregation, partnered in organizing several Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfasts, and in 2020 after George Floyd’s death they marched together to the Iowa State Capitol and both spoke on behalf of equality and racial justice.
A defining moment in the relationship came a decade ago when Pastor Housholder wrote a 20/20 vision calling for "1Church" to provide outreach and ministry in the city through Lutheran Church of Hope and Elim Christian Fellowship. The shape of this vision was unclear until a second defining moment came in 2020.
First Christian Church, which gave birth to Drake University in 1888, suddenly came up for sale. A 77,000- square-foot building located at 25th and University with an 800-seat Worship Center, a gymnasium, a chapel, a five-story office building, and tons of classroom and meeting spaces, was the perfect home for “one church.” The congregation had a rich history, a place where such champions of peace and justice as Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke.
HOPE+ELIM is fully committed from the onset to being a “multicultural church,” where people of every color and creed and national origin are welcome. Pastor Michael Hurst from Elim and Pastor Jon Anenson from Hope Des Moines are the campus pastors.
The visions of the two churches serendipitously align. Elim has always self-identified as a church for the “left out, left over, the left behind,” and Hope declares its vision to be a church that is “powered by the Spirit to bring Christ to all cultures, revive the world with God’s love and make heaven more crowded!"
The opening of HOPE+ELIM was Nov. 15, 2020, 132 years since First Christian began ministry on the same site. Because of COVID-19, the opening is phased, but hopefully, in the near future, the doors will swing wide open so diverse crowds can gather in large numbers to celebrate as only Lutheran Pentecostals (known in some circles as Lutherocostals), can do.
HOPE+ELIM seeks to change the prevailing Lutheran narrative that “11:00 am Sunday is the most segregated hour of the week in America.” Instead, it envisions becoming the kind of church pictured in Revelation 7:9: “There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”