FIFTH FULL-TIME PASTOR
Calls were issued for a replacement pastor. The Rev. Keith Fox, pastor of Redeemer, Fort Worth, served as vacancy pastor. Following a five-month vacancy, a young pastor who had just returned from the jungles of Africa accepted our call to be our full-time pastor.
The Rev. Harold A. Hein, born at Sauk Rapids, MN, attended Hamline University at St. Paul and served two years with the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary at Springfield, IL, and after his graduation and ordination in 1952, he was commissioned as a missionary pastor to Nigeria, West Africa. He served in out-stations for three years as a pastor, and since 1956 had taught in the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary at Obet Idim, Nigeria. Prior to his return to the United States, he served for three years as president of the seminary.
During his furloughs from the mission field, he attended graduate schools at the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University.
The Rev. Harold Hein was installed as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church on March 28, 1965. The Rev. Melvin Cordes, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Arlington conducted the installation service. Other area Lutheran pastors assisted. The Rev. Lambert Loock of Hope was the Liturgist and the Rev. Keith Fox of Redeemer delivered the sermon.
The first use of Christ Monograms (called Chrismons) for our chancel Christmas tree was in 1965. These beautiful ornaments were hand-made by the ladies of the congregation.
The first use of the Advent wreath for our chancel area was 1968.
A special yearly event, the candlelight Christmas Eve service, was begun as a tradition in 1965.
Purchase of Vacant Fire Station
In 1969, it was obvious that Christ congregation had a serious lack of space problem. It was recognized that the City of Fort Worth vacated their fire station once they moved into one of the new stations near Altamesa Blvd. One of our members was instrumental in bargaining with city officials concerning our desire to purchase the vacated fire station. The City of Fort Worth wanted $15,000 for the building. A counter offer for $3,500-$4,000, and the City jumped at the opportunity to sell the building. Christ congregation purchased the fire station for a mere $4,000; land was not included because it belongs to the Foster family estate. However, it could be used for as many years as we desired, so long as it would be for church purposes. Plans were drawn showing how the station could be divided into a number of classrooms as well as creating one large room for use as an early-years school. With approximately $12,000 of materials and several hundred hours of free congregational labor, the building was ready for occupancy as an educational annex that was dedicated on Sunday morning, September 27, 1970. The building was put to good use from 1970 until 1992 when a Chinese Baptist congregation bought our property.
A Man of Many Talents
Pastor Hein, a man of many talents, kept education in the forefront and conducted several short-term seminars, such as Confirmation and First Communion, Hermeneutics, and Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion. Of a long-term nature, Pastor Hein instructed a group of students in the Bethel Bible Series, a two-year intensive overview study of the entire Bible (1971-1972). The number of students was limited to 12. By the end of the two-year study, only three students remained and they were certified to present this course to the confirmed adults of the congregation.
Dedication of a New Pulpit
The new pulpit was dedicated in October 1972 to the glory of God and in memory of Liz McKinney.
Membership Reaches New Highs
By February 1972, the 20th anniversary of the congregation, membership had reached a new high of 395 baptized, 284 communicants, 48 voting members, and an annual budget of $64,000.
During the 1970s, Christ Lutheran reached an all-time high in involvement in the Lord’s work and helped to start a new mission in Granbury, Texas in 1974. Fourteen members were transferred to this new mission, known later as Our Savior Lutheran Church, Granbury. Christ congregation also helped start a new mission in Burleson, Texas in 1974. Forty-five members were transferred to this new mission, which received its State Charter in 1976, known as Charity Lutheran Church, Burleson.
1977 Banner Year
The year 1977 was indeed a banner year for Christ congregation. Congregational giving for all purposes was an all-time high. Twenty-five percent of gifts went to World Missions through District and Synod, and another 5% was given to Urban Ministries, Lutheran Bible Translators, relief efforts and Concordia College, Austin, Texas.
Other 1977 Highlights
An addition of pastoral and church offices to the original building was accomplished. At the time of the 25th Anniversary of Christ congregation, a note-burning ceremony was held. The congregation was now debt-free. The decade of the 70s closed with a membership of 351 baptized and 273 communicant souls.
The Decade of the 80s
The decade of the 80s was different. Christ congregation experienced a time of “leveling off,” and finally a downward trend in both offerings and membership in the late 1980s.
Pastor Hein, having served Christ Lutheran Church for 24½ years, announced his retirement in May 1989, to be effective August 31, 1989.
During a 13-month vacancy, the Rev. Terry Beltz, pastor of St. John Lutheran, Mansfield, Texas, coordinated necessary efforts; however, the Rev. Ben Rathgeber, pastor of Ascension Lutheran, Cleburne, Texas, provided pastoral assistance and direction during the calling process for a new pastor.