In the southwest corner of the Texas District, the towns of Kermit, Monahans, Fort Stockton, and Alpine are served by one pastor. His name is Pastor Mike Fickenscher. Pastor Fickenscher has served both Kermit and Monahans since 1998. In 2011 both Alpine and Fort Stockton were added to his ministry. What this means is that Sunday services begin at 8 am in Kermit and end around 6 pm in Alpine. (There is a second such “circuit rider” in Circuit 5 who lives in San Angelo, Rev. Tom Baden. His mileage is similar in length.)
Getting home late on Sunday evenings after having driven 280 miles or so, Fickenscher begins to work with the members of the congregations during the week. People such as Dr. Margaret Peterson (St. Paul, Monahans), Dr. James Luecke (Redeemer, Alpine), and Mrs. Helen Zion (photo to the left) (Faith, Fort Stockton) pick up the mission adventure. With both leadership and encouragement from Fickenscher, (Mike would tell you they would do this on their own.) these three people have developed great ministry and their own stories.
There is the story of Helen whose home became the meeting place for well attended, community-wide Bible Studies led by Pastor Fickenscher. There are stories from Candelaria and the work with nurses. Dr. Luecke and the development of a store through Can-Do Missions. There are stories from Alpine and the community Thanksgiving meal where, in a town of 6,000 people, 1,500 people are served. There is the story of the Lutheran Literacy Project that now reaches both urban and rural areas from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Vally, from East Texas to Carlsbad Caverns and includes town such as Terlingua and Valentine. Additionally, ministries such as LINC Southwest. Each of these missional efforts come from this remote and unassuming ministry.
On that Sunday when I joined Pastor Fickenscher, driving home from Alpine around 6:30 pm, he asked me if it would be alright to stop and make a visit on the way home. I thought he was done. However, the work was not done. We drove through the desert on back roads to find a person to whom pastor wanted to say, if I recall correctly, “Happy Birthday.” We visited them and then finally left for home.
I will never forget that day riding with Pastor Fickenscher. That Sunday when all of a sudden, driving across the Pecos desert toward the mountains of Alpine and Fort Davis, he says to me, “I love this drive! I get to do this every week.”
By Rev. Steve Misch
Mission and Ministry Facilitator, Area A