FOURTH FULL-TIME PASTOR
The Rev. Richard W. Patt, a recently ordained seminary candidate, was installed July 10, 1960, as the fourth full-time pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. The officiant was the Rev. Wesley Kuhn, the circuit counselor. The speaker was the Rev. Wilbert Koenig, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Dallas.
The congregation was outgrowing its facilities by 1962 with 232 baptized members and 121 communicant members. Building plans for a new sanctuary were discussed with LCMS architect, Eugene Wukasch of Austin. A master plot plan for our congregation was developed but never used. Because of the great distance between Austin and Fort Worth, a local architectural engineer, Don Kirk, was hired to develop an architect’s conceptual plan and firm bidding plans for a new sanctuary, even though his expertise lay in the commercial field and he had never designed a church.
At a special voters’ meeting on June 2, 1963, a group of 24 people, including voters, spouses, and interested parties, decided to go ahead with the construction of a new sanctuary. Only 12 votes were cast (8 for, 4 against) and the plan was passed by a small margin. It must be remembered that women of the congregation did not have voting rights in the LCMS until 1967.
A contract was given to Excel Construction Company, Dib Truett, a Fort Worth home builder. The loan was obtained from the Texas District Church Extension Fund in exchange for our accumulated building fund. Ground breaking for the sanctuary took place on September 1, 1963.
The construction of the sanctuary made a wide departure from ancient styles and formulae. Church building had taken its rightful place as one of the areas where architecture reached its highest creative and artful expression; it had become one of the most dynamic and truly functional fields in the world of architecture. They were not so concerned that the building “look like a church” as they were “that the congregation BE the church.” Gone were the days when large churches needed to be limited by high walls that encased a long, narrow seating area. The basic rule to which the building committee and architect bound themselves could be stated like this: SERVE THE PEOPLE’S LITURGY. This is to say the new Christ Lutheran Church sanctuary was designed and conceived “from the inside out.”
The congregation was fortunate to have a pastor who excelled in church architecture and furnishings that are all liturgically proper. The pulpit was the only piece of furniture retained from the former worship area.
The altar was one of the largest departures from traditional designs. The design of a free-standing altar, as opposed to a single mass of stone or wood, was a link with the historic church of old which conceivably used a table-like altar where the celebrant at Holy Communion consecrated the elements facing the people from the “rear” side of the altar, thereby making this important ceremony visible to the congregation. This is the same altar that is used in our present-day sanctuary.
The inlaid, ecclesiastical mosaic work in this altar suggests a link with the past. The great artwork of the church in the first centuries used the medium of mosaics almost exclusively. The Rev. Richard Patt made the use of mosaics his primary project during the building program. He used imported Italian glass tile—over 5,000 individual pieces–to create the mosaics for our altar.
Finally, a gross departure from conventional 20th century church architecture were two noticeable items: no exterior cross on the building and no center aisle in the nave.
The cornerstone and its contents were laid November 24, 1963, inscribed “To God Alone the Glory, 1963.”
Dedication of New Sanctuary
The formal dedication was held on the Sunday after Easter, April 5, 1964. The keynote speaker at the dedicatory dinner was the Rev. A. O. Rast, District Mission Director – the same Rev. Rast who had assisted in the organization of the Christ Lutheran Mission congregation in southwest Fort Worth in 1951.
The speaker at the afternoon service of praise was the Rev. Victor Buvinghausen, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church at Port Arthur and chairman of the Church Extension Division of the Texas District LCMS.
Rev. Patt Takes New Assignment
A farewell party was held in November 1964 for Pastor Richard Patt and his wife. He had received and accepted a call to Toledo, Ohio, later to Milwaukee, and then to Tucson, Arizona, in 1996.
Faced with a vacancy, the members grew closer in their fellowship and stronger in their faith and service. For this relatively young, 13-year-old congregation in 1965, there was always a cohesive force drawing members together in fellowship and fun.