Sunday, December 2, 2018 was a special day at Faith Lutheran Church of Grand Blanc. We were able to honor Rev. Dr. John Heins as he has reached the milestone of being a pastor in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod for 60 years. This is an achievement worthy of recognition in itself, but the reason why we’re especially grateful here at Faith is that John began his public ministry as the first pastor of the congregation. John was leading worship and his wife, Wilma, was playing the piano back when they were meeting in a local theater. It was awesome to hear John’s stories from those early days as he spoke to an eager audience in a special fellowship hour on the day of the celebration. It was a tremendous boost of faith for all of us to hear how the Lord guided and blessed this early family of believers.
The lasting impact from those early days is clearly evident yet today. Several individuals gave testimony to how the ministry of Pastor Heins influenced them in a way that has remained central to their faith. I heard many comments about the wonderful example of faith and love that was displayed by both Pastor and Wilma. Their committed love gave a clear picture of Jesus’ love for the church so that all could see it. This influence continues to resonate at Faith as our mission statement is “The Faith family … faithfully living every relationship in God’s way.” The family atmosphere from sixty years ago continues to exist here. We continue to put Jesus first, family second, and church after that in all that we do.
Our celebration also had a global focus. After Rev. Heins left Faith, he went on to serve as the pastor of Guardian Lutheran in Dearborn, Mich. and then as the President of the Michigan District, LCMS for twelve years. Special guests Rev. David P. E. Maier and Rev. C. William Hoesman (current and previous District Presidents of the Michigan District, LCMS respectively) both affirmed Rev. Heins’ tremendous impact on the Christian church at large.
So also, here at Faith, our ministry has grown in impact throughout the world. We’re now actively engaged in mission endeavors in our own community, in Flint through the Franklin Avenue Mission, in Guatemala, Turkey, and South Africa. As Rev. Heins and his first congregational family have continued to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the Holy Spirit has continued to yield abundant fruit in and through us. Praise be to God for His steadfast love!
Rev. Dr. John L. Heins graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. in 1955 and received a degree in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. He served at Faith, Grand Blanc from 1958-1974; Guardian, Dearborn from 1974-1985; and then became the 12th President of the Michigan District, LCMS where he served from 1985-1997. President Maier says, “During John Heins’ tenure as President of the Michigan District, LCMS he also served the Church at large and our Synod as Chairman of the Council of Presidents. John had—and still has—a true servant heart, a tenacity for truth, a determination to serve all church workers, and especially a love for sharing God’s mercy and grace. John’s wife, Wilma—a gifted musician—began the Katie Conference as a time and opportunity to care for and encourage pastors’ wives. Together, they are quite a team.”
John and Wilma Heins reside in Saline, Mich.
Photos by Scott Wogen