Photo of Founding Pastor Richard Pagán

Founding Pastor Richard Pagán

Aboite is a LCMS Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was 1988 when Pastor Richard Pagán, who at the time was the Pastor of a large urban church in Peoria, Illinois, was called as a missionary-at-large to start a church plant in the southwest suburbs of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Pagan family was familiar with Fort Wayne, though originally Pastor and his wife were from Bronx in New York, because Pastor Rich attended seminary in Fort Wayne ten years prior. Pastor Rich worked hard to recruit and assemble a team of church planters and seminarians to help him launch an exhaustive phone calling campaign before the first service. He also visited thousands of houses door-to-door, asking people four simple questions:

  1. What is the greatest need in this area?
  2. Why do you think most of the people in this area do not attend church?
  3. If you were looking for a church, what kinds of things would you look for?
  4. Do you have any advice for me as a new pastor in the area?

During this preparatory time Pastor also began prayer jogging through the neighborhoods of Aboite. As he jogged he would pray for the church he was called to start, praying specifically for the people in the neighborhoods the church would reach. During that time God laid the question on his heart repeatedly:

Is there a hell?

He could not understand the significance of the question. Finally one day he answered.

Yes, there is a hell.

With the utterance came the revelation that this church was to be a church for those on their way, literally, to hell.

Pastor used the answers gathered form his door-to-door work to formulate a strategy to target those not being reached by other churches. If this new church was to be “a safety net” to reach those not currently being reached by other churches, we would have to meet their needs. This meant contemporary worship, relevant messages, an accepting community, and a different approach to financial stewardship.

The First Service

On September 25, 1988 an amazing 330 people came to the first service. The hard work and prayer paid off. Pastor’s heart and vision for guests and visitors shone through. Lutherans from all over the city came to Aboite to check it out. So many were refreshed to find a contemporary Lutheran church in Fort Wayne, concerned with meeting their needs. The relevant teaching and uplifting worship became an oasis for many longtime Lutherans.

The church was formally chartered on May 6, 1990. Aboite Lutheran Church called Pastor Pagan to lead the church plant as we grew into a church family.

Soon bricks and mortar surrounded the vision after a set of very successful fundraising campaigns. The sanctuary (Phase One) was completed in 1993, and then the education wing (Phase Two) followed in 1997. Today Pastor Pagan and the dedicated church leadership continue to keep ALC focused on its unique ministry and mission. The vision is packed with challenges but we know that through the power and call of Christ to seek and to save that which was lost nothing is impossible for us who have been called according to his purpose.