On September 30, Rev. Dr. David P. E. Maier will complete his fourth and final term as president of the Michigan District, LCMS. Building on the work of his predecessors, one senses the continuation of a Kingdom mindset over the last 13 years: the Michigan District is composed of People of Hope, first seeking the Lord, and following His guidance in finding new ways to reach new people with the love of Christ.
President Elect Rev. David Davis reflects, “What I appreciated about David is his strength of character as a follower of Jesus. This was borne out in at least two ways. First, he was always pushing to see what was the most he could do to further the interest of Jesus’ Kingdom. Second, through all of it, good times and bad times, consternations and celebrations, COVID heartaches and change of hearts, David was joyful and positive about what Jesus could do. He has been indeed a person of HOPE.”
As a graduate of Concordia University Ann Arbor, President Maier has always had a heart for his alma mater and its mission. Michigan District 1st Vice President Rev. Mark Brandt says, “President Maier’s role in keeping Concordia Ann Arbor open cannot be overstated. He worked tirelessly and courageously to help bring about the current relationship that our university has with Concordia Wisconsin. That is but one example of what our gracious God has done through His humble servant.”
During President Maier’s tenure, he worked with the District Vice Presidents and Board of Directors to put forth the current vision, mission, and these four critical targets of the District: Great Commission Ministry, Great Compassion Ministry, Healthy Congregations, and Healthy Workers.
“I have been blessed to serve at the feet of President Maier for the past 4 years. His passion and enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel and growing the church was and is clearly evident. His humble and servant heart reflects that of the ultimate Servant, Jesus. His hearty laugh and sense of humor rounds out the man that God has used in wonderful ways in our District. I am confident that he will continue to be a positive influence in the future of our District even as the Lord uses him in a different role,” shares Michigan District 2nd Vice President, Rev. Dean Davenport.
Another vision of President Maier’s was the initiation of Theological Conferences, fashioned after Synod’s first Theological Conference where church leaders came together to discuss the topic of worship. In the Michigan District, laity and church workers come together at Theological Conferences to hear from speakers and examine relevant and sometimes controversial topics. The first conference, on the topic of worship, took place in 2011. Since then, the subsequent nine included: Apologetics; Church, State, and Culture; the Holy Spirit; Life Issues; Sexual Identity; Take Heart, Take Action; Prayer; Legacy: Reclaiming a Lost Generation; and Beyond the Walls with Jesus.
The now flourishing intentional urban ministry, Acts 2 Enterprise, was a vision of President Maier’s as well, and a missionary at large was called to Detroit. The humble beginning has now expanded to include the Benton Harbor Lutheran Outreach; Camp Restore Detroit; Elli’s House, Detroit; Flint Mission Network encompassing Franklin Avenue Mission, York Avenue Mission, Mercy House, and The Luke Clinic; Family of God, Detroit; The Luke Clinic, Detroit; Summer Camps in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Pontiac; St. Paul Community, Pontiac; Charity, Detroit and Charity Inc; Outer Drive Faith, Detroit; Pan de Vida, Detroit; and Bethany, Detroit. Currently, six missionaries at large are deployed, and many congregations join in serving these growing ministries to under-served populations.
In the fall and winter of 2016, President Maier traveled with Development Director Ray Zavada to many locations throughout the District to share the initiatives and vision of Here We Stand, a capital campaign to raise $10 million to support professional church worker scholarships, innovative missional ministry, the Michigan District Endowment Fund, and international ministry. The goal of this campaign was exceeded and celebrated at the District Convention this past summer. The campaign kickoff, a joint worship service to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, took place in October of 2017 in Lansing, Mich. with over 13,000 in attendance.
Listening, Learning, and Leading
In the summer of 2020, President Maier pulled together a group of both clergy and lay stakeholders in metro Detroit to address racism in the church. This resulted in the topic for the District’s All Pastors Conference and, later, the development of a Bible study for congregations titled, Heart Issues are Hard Issues.
“President Maier listened intensely to the needs and feelings of this group. Although the subject was a tough matter, all came together with respect of being heard, and more importantly understood. Topics included inclusiveness in ministry, voice in District matters, and diversity of our ministry approaches. As my brother in faith, [Maier] inspired a resulting communication across all clergy / parishioners for moving us forward in Michigan. He continually believes in bringing us together for understanding and love. His own podcasts, a healing service which included diverse speakers, and the available sermons are simply outstanding!” shares Deacon Robert (Bobby) Brooks, Metro West Layperson, Michigan District Board of Directors.
Over the years, President Maier was a frequent speaker and preacher at many District events and conferences across Synod. He was also directly involved with the District branding, People of Hope, as well as District conventions developed with Ephesians 3:20–21 in mind: Imagine Living as God’s … Forgiven and Forgiving Family (2012), Loved and Compassionate Community (2015), Saved and Sent Servants (2018), and lastly “People of Hope: It’s Time!” (2022). President Maier often challenged laity and church workers to think deeply about where we see God is at work and move in His direction.
President Maier serves alongside of his staff of Executive and Administrative Assistants, rolling up his sleeves and getting down in the trenches with them. Rev. Dr. Rob Kasper, Assistant to the President – Congregation Mission and Ministries, Metro Zone/Ministry Support, shares, “If anyone has ever heard President Maier at a pastors’ conference or something, when he’s giving his report, or for some other reason introducing … or maybe just making some reference to the district staff, he very often will make the comment that most everyone has a position title that starts with, ‘Assistant to the President.’ He then goes on to say something like, ‘That’s because I need a lot of assistance (or help)!’ But the thing is, I don’t think he is just making a silly joke. He really does see his fellow servants, with whatever role or task, as valuable partners in the mission of God. I think that comes from his biblical understanding of ‘vocation’ in Jesus.”
Friends and Family
President Maier served as the chairman of the LCMS Council of Presidents for four years. Rev. Dr. Robert Newton, President Emeritus of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District, shares: “I am honored to call Pastor Maier brother, colleague, and friend. Like his father before him, David loves the Lord our God with all his heart, soul, and strength. His simple trust in God’s unfailing and all-powerful Word enables him to serve with great joy, hope, and confidence, knowing that the Gospel must and will extend to the ends of the earth. Men whose hearts are captive to Jesus’ love show us the way; they lead with integrity, vision, resiliency, and humility. David is one of those men. We are richly blessed by his life and service. And then there’s Pat, his better, better half. ‘An excellent [woman], who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.’ You can say that again.”
President Maier attributes much of his leadership achievements to the love and support of his wife, Pat. She often accompanies him on business trips and retreats. She is a true friend to other pastors’ wives. Pat encourages others to develop close relationships through her work with the annual District Katie conference for pastors’, vicars’, and deacons’ wives. She also serves her Lord and others by sharing her gifts and talents as an artist and Visual Faith coach.
Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, President Emeritus of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and a longtime friend of the Maiers, says: “My first thought when I think of David Maier is exuberance for our Lord and for His Church. Instilled in him through parents and family, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory,’ Pastor Maier has shared that lively hope with us all through conversations, preaching, teaching, and yes, even in church meetings where we easily forget the presence of our reigning Lord. Thank you, David and Pat, for all you have done and blessings in all that is ahead.”
The Maiers have four children and three children-in-love: James, Leah (Kyle), Joel (Shae), and Hannah (Garrett) and seven grandchildren. The Maiers enjoy relaxing together with family and friends on their land in Montana when they can get away. They make their home in Frankfort, Mich. near Camp Arcadia, another very special place in their hearts.
Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS unless otherwise noted.