John 18:5 (ESV)
They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
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Prince of Peace Lutheran Church began in 1987 when Rev. Dr. Arno Meyer was called as a Mission Developer to establish a Lutheran Congregation in southwest Topeka. The intent was to launch an invitational community of faith gathered around Word and Sacrament in service to the larger southwest community. Thirty-seven interested people met in Pastor Meyer's home to initiate plans to start the congregation. The first worship was held February 14, 1988, in a Villa West Shopping Center store front. The congregation was chartered June 12, 1988, with 241 members signing the roll. The congregation experienced rapid growth which necessitated the need to build a permanent facility. Groundbreaking for the new facility was held in February 1989 with a dedication ceremony following on February 18, 1990. The decision to build a multipurpose facility instead of a dedicated sanctuary reflects one of the core values of the early community “ to be a church not just in the community but for the community. The central core value of the early community, and a core value that continues today, is expressed in the words, "God accepts us the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way. Accepting, caring and welcoming are words that describe Prince of Peace.
Prince of Peace Preschool opened its doors in February 1990. The school was established as an inclusive community in service to children and families. Today, the preschool is accredited by the National Lutheran School Accreditation program. Sandra Greis was commissioned as the first Preschool Director. Patricia Bullock succeeded Greis as Preschool Director and was commissioned in August 1998.
The congregation has not been without its struggles. In 2007, the congregation divided sharply in response to the leadership of the senior pastor, Rev. Martin Schmidt, who served from 2004 until he was asked to leave in 2007. The fracture resulted in a smaller, but healthier community of faith recommitted to the original core values of being a caring, welcoming people in service to the community and world. Through the years, the congregation and the preschool have been served by dedicated professionals. The strength of the congregation, however, is not so much in the staff as in the people. Prince of Peace is a community of faith that strongly believes that the pastor and people are in team ministry, together entrusted with the sacred responsibility to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.
Today, Rev. Dr. Neil Buono leads the congregation, in addition to his service to the community as a licensed marriage and family therapist and pastoral counselor. Six deacons and lay assistants form the pastoral team, alongside Pastor Buono. The mission and ministry of our community of faith is rooted in our name, Prince of Peace. Simply stated, it is to "Proclaim the living Christ, and to live the peace of Christ.
A brief historical record of the many professionals who have served the church, in addition to the pastors listed earlier, is provided here: W. J. Friedrichs was installed as Minister of Outreach on February 5, 1989. He was ordained into the pastoral ministry in 1999. On February 17, 1991, Rev. Norbert R. Wodtke was installed as Assistant to the Pastor and served POP until November 15, 1996. Kenneth Lueders was installed in May 1993, as Director of Christian Education and served until 2001. On June 6, 1999, Rev. Neil F. Buono was ordained and installed as Minister of Discipleship and Family Life Ministry. On June 25, 1999, Mary Hume was installed as Parish Nurse. On July 8, 2001, Deacons Brad Hammel and Garry Niehoff were commissioned into the ministry. Sarah Boles joined the staff as Director of Child and Youth Ministries in June 2002 and was installed August 11, 2002. On April 1, 2003, Rev. W.J. Friedrichs retired from his position, and on May 1, 2003, Rev. Dr. Arno Meyer retired from being the Senior Pastor at Prince of Peace. Sarah Boles resigned her position as DCE in December 2003. On September 12, 2004, Rev. Martin P. Schmidt was installed as Senior Pastor. In November 2007, Pastors Martin Schmidt, Wally Friedrichs, and Norbert Wodtke left Prince of Peace. In June 2008, Don Lumpe and Jerry Gaston were commissioned to serve as deacons, along with Beth Lange, commissioned to serve as lay assistant. In June 2009, Torey Oberle was commissioned to serve as a lay assistant. In 2011, Corky Wells was installed as a part-time Parish Nurse, and in June 2012, Katie Morgan, DCE was installed as Director of Family Ministry.
In 2013, Prince of Peace celebrated its 25th Anniversary wtih several events. The events kicked-off on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. Prince of Peace Preschool celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014. Starting in January 2015, Prince of Peace added a Sunday evening contemporary worship service.