Chattanooga is sometimes considered the buckle of the Bible belt. However, even Chattanooga hasn't been immune to religious trends in our nation. More and more people are leaving the church. More and more people are growing up without a church. Chattanooga is growing rapidly and as it grows we want the gospel to spread and grow with it.
Living Hope succeeds in its mission when hope forever in Jesus brings hope for every day in life.
Living Hope wants to be a family where real people give real hope to real people.
Living Hope is a church where a person grows into whatever unique callings God gives them to do.
Living Hope is designed not for people who have been here longest but for those who are not here yet.
Living Hope is a new church plant supported by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). The WELS has existed since 1850 and is a group of nearly 400,000 people in 1,300 churches across the United States united by a common faith in Christ's saving love.
A group of WELS Christians living in the Chattanooga area saw the need for a Lutheran church on the growing east side of the city. The WELS had no church in the Chattanooga area and so the group requested the WELS to send a missionary for a new church plant.
In May of 2017, a graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary was sent to Chattanooga, TN, to start this new church. Eric Melso and his wife Jennifer moved down in July. For about a year a core group was grown and trained, a space for worship was sought out and the news about the new Lutheran mission was spread.
Living Hope held it's official grand opening on September 9, 2018 at Regal Cinemas Hamilton Place. Up until the end of March 2020, Living Hope held worship at the movie theater and was blessed with growth and a fun space to gather around God's Word. When Covid-19 hit, the Regal Cinemas closed indefinitely and Living Hope held virtual worship only. For a time we met in a conference room of the new Springhill Suites hotel in Ooltewah on Old Lee Hwy and now we are located in the campus church of Southern Adventist University.
Living Hope invites you to be part of the next page in our story now too! Join us to find hope for your everyday and a place to belong.
- We are a Christian church that believes and teaches Jesus lived a perfect life in our place, died to take away our sins, and rose from the dead so we will go to heaven. Apart from Jesus, there is no forgiveness and no hope of eternal life for mankind. But, God, in his undeserved love, offers you full and free forgiveness of all your sins and the certain hope of eternal life as gifts.
- We are a Biblical church, proclaiming the pure Word of God in its entirety. It is the divine basis for our beliefs and shapes our lives. Every word found in the pages of Scripture comes from God and is completely true. God's Word reveals our salvation to us and works faith in our hearts to believe in Jesus as our Savior from sin.
- We are a Confessional Lutheran church that believes God saves and strengthens us by feeding our souls through his Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. We stand confidently on the truths of the Bible reclaimed by Martin Luther during the Reformation 500 years ago. We believe and teach that mankind is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of scripture alone. We confess the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed along with the Christians of the past 2,000 years.
The best way to find out more about what the Bible says and what we teach is to enroll in a Foundations class with Pastor Melso. This course covers the basics of the Christian Faith. To sign up for Foundations or talk to Pastor Melso about what the bible says, click here.
I was born in Fort Worth, Texas but my family moved around a lot and so I’ve lived in Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin before finally settling here in the Chattanooga area. I still haven’t quite figured out how to answer the question, “where are you from?”
Already in my senior year of high school I decided I wanted to try studying to be a pastor. I attended Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota to begin my pre-seminary studies in the pastor track offered there. While attending college I met my wife Jennifer Uhlhorn. We quickly bonded over our love of camping, hiking, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers.
After graduating from Martin Luther College, I spent a year teaching English in Shaoxing, China. While there, I got to bring the message of Jesus to Chinese friends who had never heard the gospel before. More than anything else, I think my experience in China cemented my love for mission work and reaching the lost.
After returning from China, I began attending Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jennifer and I then got married on July 11, 2014 after my first year at seminary. I spent one year of my seminary training as a vicar (like an intern pastor) at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Verona, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. Vicar year was a great experience full of learning how to be a shepherd for God’s people and I continued to learn how to be outreach-focused under my supervising pastor.
I received my master of divinity degree and graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in May 2017. After graduating I was assigned to start a new mission church in the growing city of Chattanooga, TN. Jennifer and I are so blessed to be here and we already love this beautiful area of God’s creation.
We're also blessed with two little girls, Natalie and Annabelle. They're both amazing gifts we don't deserve.
We look forward to working with the Living Hope family as we seek to reach people with the living hope found in Jesus.