The Mission Board of the Texas District (as it was called in 1951) was convinced that a need existed to minister to the community of southwest Fort Worth and to bring the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to all mankind. Only two LCMS churches were established in Fort Worth at this time: St. Paul Lutheran, established in 1893, and Zion Lutheran, in 1945. There were only two other Lutheran congregations in Fort Worth: Trinity Lutheran (ALC affiliation) and Grace Lutheran (LCA).
Mission Board Calls Seminary Candidate
A seminary candidate, Paul Schroeder, received a call from the Mission Board to begin a preaching station in southwest Fort Worth. Paul Schroeder arrived in Fort Worth in August 1951 and, in conjunction with the Mission Board, arranged for Lutheran worship services to commence October 7, 1951, using the Westcliff Theater in the Westcliff Shopping Center at Trail Lake Drive and Carolyn Road. A temporary name was chosen: CHRIST LUTHERAN MISSION. On this initial Sunday, 35 people attended. Most likely the majority of the attendees were Missouri Synod Lutherans.
Progress of New Mission
Excitement and expectations ran high among this new group of Lutherans. It took only a short time until they had set a goal of 50 attendees before Christmas. However, this goal was not met. Actually, the attendance dropped to 22 people, but the spirits of this new group of worshippers were not dampened, and they were determined to forge ahead. The Ladies Society was organized November 14, 1951.
Seminary Candidate Ordained
On Sunday, December 9, 1951, candidate Paul Schroeder was ordained at St. Paul Lutheran Church, then located at May and West Cannon streets. The following Sunday, Rev. Schroeder confirmed the first class of 5 students. Rev. Schroeder, 24 years of age, was declared the youngest full-time pastor in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth’s Pastor Schroeder was aways interested in history and a few years later he enrolled at the University of Texas’ graduate school to work toward a PhD in History. This education equipped him for a Fulbright Scholarship for further study in Heidelberg, Germany. After returning to the United States, he took a position teaching history at the University of Illinois.
This relatively small group was determined to forge ahead so that they could organize their own congregation and soon worship in their own chapel instead of a theater.
The first organizational meeting (February 17, 1952) discussed the Constitution and By-Laws prior to establishing a congregation. The following Sunday, February 24, 1952, was a day of remembrance – the day that Christ Lutheran Mission became CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH, wherein 25 charter members ratified the Constitution and By-Laws of this new church. The next Sunday, March 2, 1952, according to the records, Holy Communion was offered for the first time – essentially five months after their initial gathering for worship services in the Westcliff Theater.