A Brief History of Faith Lutheran Church

       The first worship service of Faith Lutheran Church was conducted on April 22, 1956 in the National Guard Armory by the vacancy Pastor Martin Hofman of Blue Hill. The new congregation continued meeting in the National Guard Armory until their building program was far enough along for the basement to be used for worship services, Sunday School, and the parish activities until the nave could be completed. Faith Lutheran Church and the parsonage were dedicated Sunday, April 20, 1958. The Reverend Walter Wilkins had been installed as the first regular pastor of Faith Lutheran Church on July 1, 1956 and remained until September of 1959, when Pastor Delbert Theis of Christ Lutheran began serving as interim supply pastor.


       Education was an integral part of Faith Lutheran Church from the beginning, with the congregation’s first chairman doubling as the Sunday School Superintendent and other members teaching. The 1958 yearbook noted that Junior and Adult Bible Classes were also conducted every Sunday. In November 1959, when Pastor Edwin C. Bek was installed as the second pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, the Sunday School showed a roster of 108 students and the Vacation Bible School had 110 students, while Saturday School, consisting of 6th and 7th grades and the confirmation class, had a total of 23 students. The Saturday School later became the Weekday School. Enrollment in Sunday School, the Vacation Bible School, the Saturday School, and the Bible Classes continued to grow over the next years. Pastor Edwin C. Bek accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church, in Omaha, in the Spring of 1966 and the Reverend Robert Banken was installed on April 24, 1966.


       In 1967 a building expansion program was undertaken to increase seating by 100 in the Nave and to provide more classroom space. In 1970, a student team from Concordia Teachers College at Seward served as the Youth Group Consultants. The team consisted of Jon Polcha, Betsy Kamprath, and Rose Marie Smith. In 1972, the congregation applied to the Deaconess Intern program at Valparaiso University and Deconess Carol Peters spent a year (August 1972 - August 1973) at Faith Lutheran Church. She was followed by Martha Kaempfe (August 1973- August 1974) and by Cathy Dornon (August 1974-August 1975). They assisted the pastor in the teaching, calling, and group work functions of the church.


       In the meantime, Pastor Robert Banken accepted a call to Grants Pass, Oregon. The Reverend Darold Reiner served as interim pastor until Pastor Carl H. Rehwaldt was installed September 22, 1974. A new organ was also installed in October 1975 and a dedicatory organ concert was given November 9, 1975. Early in 1976, the congregation decided to call a Director of Christian Education. It was in September of 1976 when James Vandercook accepted the position. He began his work at Faith Lutheran Church in early 1977 and continued until he accepted a call to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at West Point, Nebraska in August 1979. The Church Council applied for interns through the Director of Christian Education program at Concordia College at Seward and Florence Reinke arrived for her internship year in June 1980. She was followed by Brenda Zesch in July 1981 and Sheryl Hansen in August 1982. In the meantime the church sought a full time Director of Christian Living and Becky Groerich (later Becky Groerich-Koopman) accepted the position in August 1983. She served until May 1987 when she resigned for family and personal reasons, but continued to participate as a volunteer with education and music programs.

       The congregation voted to request a Vicar, starting with the 1986-87 school year. Vicar Mark Luecke was installed August 31, 1986, followed by Vicar Bruce Jackson on August 9, 1987. The Vicars assisted Pastor Rehwaldt in his pastoral duties as well as assuming some teaching responsibilities. In 1988, the congregation decided to call a second full time pastor to serve as Director of Outreach, and Pastor Dean Clausing was installed July 9, 1989 and continued in that position through December 1999 when he accepted a call to serve at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

In August 1988, Fred Aufdembrink was installed as the Director of Christian Education and continued in this position until October 1, 1990. While the congregation sought a replacement, Ellen Jank was asked to work part time to take responsibility for the Sunday School Program during the vacancy. On July 9, 1991 Vicki Fisher was installed as the new Director of Christian Education.

       Throughout the history of Faith Lutheran Church, the educational programs have continued to be an important aspect of the congregation’s ministry. As both church membership and participation in the education programs increased over the years, both church and classroom space became problematic and in 1988 the church began to focus on another Venture of Faith– that of a building project. Ultimately building plans were finalized and a Building Fund Drive started in 1993. Groundbreaking for the new addition was held April 10, 1994 and the work was accomplished with a loan from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, the work of the laborers for Christ, and the many volunteer hours from congregational members. The new addition added much needed classrooms and consolidated the church offices as well as providing elevator access to all levels, additional seating in the Nave, and expanded gathering space.

       On July 8, 2001, Pastor Paul T. Dunbar was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church filling the vacancy left by Pastor Clausing. At the April 9, 2000 Voters Meeting a proposal from the Board of Education was made to change the job description of Vicki Fisher to that of DCE Family Life Ministry and to add an additional DCE to focus on education. The motion was carried and the process begun. On September 9, 2001 Wade Johnson was officially installed as Director of Christian Education. After 35 years of ministry to this congregation, Pastor Carl H. Rehwaldt retired on August 31, 2009. On December 13, 2009 a call was extended to Pastor Dunbar to fill the Director of Ministry position of which he accepted. On August 1, 2010, Pastor Josh Davis was installed as Director of Worship. DCE Vicki Fisher retired in the spring of 2020 and Leah Werling (later Leah Shaw) was called, after serving at Faith as our DCE Intern.  Leah was installed as Director of Youth & Family on August 2, 2020.