FIRST FULL-TIME PASTOR
Now that the first full-time pastor of Christ Lutheran Church was in place, it was necessary for this new church to proclaim their doctrinal position of following the Reformation principles: “sola gratis, sola fide, sola Scriptura”—by grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. This church was a congregation affiliated with the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, one of the three major Lutheran bodies in the United States.
Their Doctrinal Position
The church emphasized that their guiding factor in ministry was that the Scriptures are God’s eternal, unchanging Word for today’s changing world. Christ Lutheran Church’s purpose was that of a Christian congregation established and maintained for the express purpose of disseminating the gospel truth as recorded in the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The gospel truth is disseminated for a two-fold purpose: (1) to equip Christians to build up the body of believers in Christ Jesus, and (2) to reach out to the community, to the nation, and to the world with the Gospel and lead others to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Lord, and Savior.
To further emphasize the importance of the Scriptures as God’s eternal, unchanging Word for this changing world, when the Lord’s Supper was celebrated, every Lutheran member was convinced that in, with, and under the bread and wine and in accordance with the words of Christ, he truly received the body and blood of Christ given and shed for sins.
Furthermore, God’s declaration of salvation by grace alone for the sake of Christ’s perfect life and one of atoning sacrifice on the cross was to be emphasized in liturgy, hymns, sermons, Sunday school, Bible classes, organizational meetings, and in family living.
Christ Lutheran also believed that the Scriptural doctrine of God’s grace and love in Christ must be told to all. Plans were made to make this love known through a neighborhood visitation program and through participation in the world mission effort of the LCMS Texas District.
In essence, hearing and studying the Word of God were continually emphasized, for we believe that this is the only way the Holy Spirit operates on the hearts of people.
Congregation Marches Ahead With Plans
It was as though they were on fire for Christ. As soon as a 2.4 acre plot of land was located and supplied by the Mission Board, a large sign identifying the future site of Christ Lutheran Church was erected at 4601 Wabash. With streets being reworked in this area, the property was later re-identified as 4625 Old Granbury Road.
Bids and Funding
Preliminary building plans were drawn by a member of the congregation for a chapel, classrooms, and a study. The Mission Board approved the plans and was ready for bids June 1, 1952. Bids were received from five contractors. Contractor D. T. Neaville submitted the low bid for the chapel-assembly hall complex on July 20, 1952. On August 3, 1952, the Mission Board approved a loan for the proposed building and utilities. The building was scheduled for completion in 120 days which was exceeded by only one week.
During all these negotiations, the Rev. A. O. Rast, Executive Director of Missions for the Texas District, was instrumental in supplying the land and securing the construction loan. Ground-breaking was set one week later, August 10, 1952.
The building, designed by Robert W. Barker, would be of functional design, constructed of concrete blocks, and would contain a small chapel, assembly hall, a study, and a kitchen. The building would be located on Old Granbury Road, 600 feet south of the Sante Fe Railroad overpass in the South Hills Addition.
Dedication of New Building
It was a race to the finish. Inside painting and making pews were completed by members – with last-minute painting and clean-up finished only 30 minutes before dedication services were scheduled to begin. As a matter of interest, since the pews were constructed of 1 x 2 slats, the parishioners had to sit quietly or else be squeezed by the slats as they deflected.
The Rev. A. O. Rast was the main speaker at the dedication ceremony and emphasized that this church must further “the glory of God and the welfare of men’s souls.” The Rev. Paul Schroeder, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, read the dedicatory rites for the new edifice. Officers and officers-elect of the congregation presented the articles for dedication along with the altar and pulpit.
A Few Inconveniences of New Building
In an effort to not miss the scheduled dedication day, a few inconveniences had to be dealt with: (1) lack of restroom facilities because the City of Fort Worth was unable to extend the sewer line on time, (2) lack of a heater because Lone Star Gas failed to provide a new gas line on time, and (3) lack of sidewalks since inclement weather prevented the contractor from laying the sidewalks.
The Rev. Paul Schroeder, who was responsible for the organization of the local church in the Westcliff area, preached his farewell sermon August 11, 1954. In September, he began his studies at the University of Texas toward his doctor of philosophy degree in History. While serving Christ Lutheran Church, he completed requirements for his master’s degree in History at Texas Christian University.
Upon completion of his requirements for a PhD in History at the University of Texas at Austin, Rev. Schroeder received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Heidelberg University in 1955.
Temporary Vacancy Filled
With the departure of Rev. Schroeder, the Rev. Herbert Rast, son of Missions Executive Director A.O. Rast, filled the vacancy, since he was in the near proximity of Christ Lutheran Church. The Rev. Herbert Rast was serving a new Lutheran Mission in the Ridglea area where the R.D. Evans Recreation Hall served as a meeting place, better known today as Z. Boaz Golf and Recreational Center.