Pastor Harold Moench was called from Ohio to start the first mission church of the American Lutheran Church in Oklahoma City in 1945. The first service was held June 3, 1945 at the Smith-Kernke Funeral Chapel. The church was officially organized October 3, 1945 at the home of Mr. & Mrs. R.E. Nixon with the name St. Paul’s American Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City. There were 76 charter members.
On October 8, 1945, five lots of land were purchased for just over $4000 at Northwest 25th and Blackwelder Streets, across from Oklahoma City University.
Ground breaking ceremony was May 18, 1947. This was made possible with a $30,000 loan from the Mission Board and $10,000 from the estate of Mrs. Helene Krafft. The cornerstone was laid August 3, 1947. The first service was held December 7, 1947 in the fellowship hall. The building was dedicated October 21, 1951. St. Paul’s was incorporated November 19, 1945.
Pastors serving at the Blackwelder location were:
Harold Moench 1945-1953
Lewis Holm 1953-1957
Allen Bergquist 1957-1969
Paul Johnson 1969-1972
Norman Franzen 1973
Robert Lutze 1973-1978
In 1974, the congregational leadership became concerned that the membership had fallen to under 200 members from a peak of over 500 and that there was no real opportunity for growth in what was becoming an old, inner-city area with few young families.
The church had lost members over the years due to providing membership nucleus to three mission churches in other parts of the city and the central city was declining from the younger population movement to the suburbs.
A special meeting was called after two years of study and the congregation voted by a 2-1 margin to relocate.
The church property was sold to Oklahoma City University for $105,000 and is now used as their Children’s Theatre. Six homes owned by the church were sold for $95,000.The last service was held at the Blackwelder location May 14, 1978.
The present five-acre site at 10600 N. Council Road was selected and purchased for $57,000 by the American Lutheran Church until funds were available from the sale of the old church and homes. The congregation “Traveled In the Wilderness” at Harvest Hills Elementary School for 40 weeks holding its first service May 21, 1978 and taking on new members as “Hobab”, the first to join the Children of Israel on their journey to the Promised Land.
Groundbreaking services were held June 4, 1978 and the cornerstone from the old church was placed at the new location November 12, 1978 now at the rear of the sanctuary. The new 9,000 square foot, $410,000 project was completed in time for Christmas 1978. One hundred fifty members made the relocation. The church was dedicated May 6, 1979, with 300 members.
Two major additions were made in 1981 (adding the education wing) and 1986 (adding the Activity Center, kitchen and choir room) using funds from bond programs. The original kitchen area is now the nursery. The original Fellowship Hall is now the Teen Room and the Youth Director’s office. The present day cry-room was the original narthex and the front doors were at the “Wall of Crosses”. The current narthex was an outdoor area with picnic tables.
A 2004 church “Extreme Makeover” for inside and outside added the front entrance covered driveway, enhanced sanctuary lighting, finished walls and repositioned the stained glass windows around the sanctuary.
Pastors serving at the Council Road location were:
Robert Lutze 1978 – 1993 (continuing from the old church)
Hugo Schwartz 1993-1994 (Interim)
Gregory Brandvold 1994-2000
Arno Frerichs (Interim) and Margie Faulkner, AIM, 2000-2002
Walter Swenson 2002 – present
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