River of Life is both an historic church and a new one. Three churches faithful to another time in the church merged in 2019 looking to a new future with a vision of ministry and God’s kingdom relevant to this time. Three phrases in its mission statement point directly to its aims. Living worship embodies the presence of Christ and a celebration of the rich gift of mercy, forgiveness, and eternal hope we have received in his suffering and death for us. Faithful caring includes relationships and ministry to and with each other through all generations. Reaching outward from our church and our homes was evidenced in all three past congregations but is becoming a major focus of River of Life as we strive to engage people and needs in our community, becoming more visible and integrated, a church FOR our neighborhood and city.
Atonement Lutheran Church
For nearly 60 years Atonement provided a Christ-centered, family-focused ministry in the heart of the Keystone Community. The care for families resulted in the creation of a daycare, once the largest Lutheran Daycare in Nebraska. Worship at Atonement was a blend of traditional and contemporary elements involving a variety of musical instruments. Relationships in church and community were built through fellowship meals, movie nights, hayrack rides and annually provided a Keystone Carnival free to all who attended. Vacation Bible School was participated in as a community-wide event. Mission trips to Haiti and Belize provided members an opportunity to serve other nations in Christ’s love.
Bethany Lutheran Church
Bethany, a landmark to the Benson Community for more than 80 years, celebrated Jesus’ love in the church and the community. Worship at Bethany was a blend of traditional and contemporary elements. Leadership consistently envisioned a ministry larger than its building: from creating a Christ-centered and educationally sound Preschool to prepare children for their future learning, welcoming refugees to Omaha and the Benson neighborhood, participating in the creation of two other churches: St. Mark’s and Atonement, and making a commitment to those in recovery by hosting several weekly meetings and Sunday night worship followed by a meal and fellowship. Youth attended state and national ministry gatherings and were active in serving events locally. Bethany participated in Benson Days, hosted block parties, and annually provided Vacation Bible School and Trunk or Treat.
St. Paul Lutheran Church & School
St. Paul Lutheran Church and School had a 132-year history of ministry serving the North Omaha community.
Key to its vision was belief in equipping children with a strong Christian foundation resulting in thousands of children attending the school, grades Preschool to 8th grade, from 1888 to 2019. St. Paul hosted several community outreach events, including: Vacation Bible School, clothing giveaways, free Thanksgiving meals, painting houses in the neighborhood for the elderly, and a drive-through Nativity. St. Paul’s worship was blended style of traditional and contemporary.