Our Savior Lutheran Church was organized on September 22, 1957, in Johnson City, Tennessee, when 51 dedicated men and women signed the charter to establish a Lutheran church in this area. On Sunday, September 23, 2007, the church celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
A Brief History of Our Savior Lutheran Church
Our Saviour Lutheran Church was organized on September 22, 1957, in Johnson City, Tennessee. Fifty-one dedicated men and women signed the charter to establish a Lutheran church in this area. They had faced many challenges during this pioneer period when the services were held in the Methodist Church, Pet Dairy Assembly Room, and later in the basement of the Home Federal Savings and Loan Building, where the Organization Service was held. It was a time for praying and planning, and for dreaming and envisioning the church that would one day take shape.
Efforts to find a desirable and permanent location for the church ended in January 1960, when the present property was purchased for $25,000. This site was ideal because the church needed visibility in a non-Lutheran area. While waiting for the dream of a church building to become a reality, the congregation used the two small houses on the property for worship and Sunday School. As the houses were heated by coal-fired furnaces, men of the congregation took turns coming early on Sunday morning to light the fires.
The 1960’s and 1970’s
Our Saviour continued to grow. In the Spring of 1967, the practice of having two Sunday morning worship services began. In 1969, the first expansion program was completed, adding one large room and three small rooms to the education wing. On Easter 1977, 192 persons were crowded into an area meant for 110. Thus, another expansion became necessary. The large room of the parish wing was doubled in size, and the sanctuary was enlarged so that the seating capacity was doubled. The dedication service for this expansion coincided with the Twentieth Anniversary celebration.
The 1980’s and Beyond
The 1980’s brought about much growth and changes for the congregation… a tenth member was added to the Church Council, the first woman was elected to Church Council, and a new organ was purchased. By the end of the 1980’s, further expansion was evident. In the new design, the old structure became part of the new. The former worship area became office and classroom (conference room) space, while the new sanctuary began where the old ended.
In addition, a basement was added for Sunday School classes and youth activities. This new facility was completed in 1991. Later expansions included finishing the basement in 1995, and constructing a much larger kitchen in 2002.
Those Who Made It Happen
We remember, with much thanksgiving, those pastors who worked so hard to establish a church here prior to our organization: Dr. John Bennetch, Dr. Edgar Cooper, Reverend C. Max Huddle, Chaplain James L. Shealy, and Seminarian Warren Strickler, II. Our congregation has been so richly blessed, with six different pastors. Their names are listed below:
— Pastor Elvin L. Bumgarner, Jr (1957-1960)
— Pastor Rudolph F. Ludwig (1960-1965)
— Pastor Bill R. Hoffner (1966-1972)
— Pastor William J. Mould (1973-1978)
— Pastor Gary R. Lyerly (1980-1994)
— Pastor James W. Nipper (1994-present)
Pastor Joseph L. Bolick joined us as Associate Pastor at morning worship on September 2, 2007, and was ordained at Our Saviour that afternoon. He served until February 2011, at which time he accepted a call to another congregation.
Pastor Ed Myers joined us as Associate Pastor in January 2013.
The love and dedication of all these pastors have helped to mold our congregation into what it is today. At present, our membership is over 600. Our members have come from Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and the Mormons, as well as the unchurched. Some have come from Germany, Finland, England, Liberia, Uganda, China, Honduras, British Isles, and South Africa. We have been fortunate to have so many loyal and dedicated members among us.
We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2007. We most humbly thank God for His many blessings. We ask for His continued guidance for our future.