SIXTH FULL-TIME PASTOR
The seventh call by the congregation resulted in the acceptance by the Rev. Ronald Wagner of Lehr, North Dakota. He was installed as pastor of Christ congregation on September 9, 1990.
Church Growth Consultant
An outside consultant, Dr. Kent Hunter, was employed in 1991 by Christ congregation for the purpose of reviewing congregational problems. A number of our members were interviewed by Dr. Hunter on a one-on-one basis. Dr. Hunter completed his assignment with the publication of a detailed report on his findings. The most significant recommendation, according to Dr. Hunter, was that Christ congregation should seriously consider relocation to another area. The number of prospects in our present area of responsibility were minimal. His findings indicated that our rapid growth pattern of the 60s and 70s began to level off in the 80s, so much so, that we had become a “plateau” congregation. Statistically, downward trends follow plateaus more frequently than up-swing growth patterns. The growth of southwest Fort Worth was several miles south and southwest of the present location of Christ Lutheran at Old Granbury Road and Trail Lake Drive. A team was appointed to work with real estate brokers to search for suitable tracts of land.
Special Voters’ Meeting
On May 17, 1992, a special voters’ meeting considered one of Dr. Hunter’s recommendations which was to relocate. Approval was given by the voters (39 for, 16 against) to purchase 15.8 acres in far southwest Fort Worth, in the Cityview addition, from the Fort Worth Academy, which was already established along Harris Parkway and Dutch Branch Road near Southwest Harris Hospital. It was also recommended that Christ congregation chart its future course of action. The acreage was purchased as a future location for the church. Our church property at 4625 Old Granbury Rd. would be placed for sale on the open market. (Historically, it was observed that church properties generally required months, even years, to sell.)
Dedication of Purchased Land
Dedication of the 15.8 acres of land in Cityview as the future site of Christ Lutheran Church was held on August 9, 1992. The Rev. Ronald Wagner conducted the worship service of dedication.
Sale of Old Granbury Road Property
Once the Christ Lutheran Church property was placed in the hands of a real estate company that specialized in church properties, only three weeks passed before the first interested party reviewed the property and agreed to purchase it. Another three weeks passed and the sale was closed in November, 1992. A number of Chinese immigrants were sponsored by Travis Avenue Baptist Church, and the Chinese delegation was eager to own its own church property. It promptly became the “First Chinese Baptist Church of Fort Worth”. Proceeds from the sale were sufficient for Christ congregation to pay off the loan on the 15.8 acre Cityview property, and the balance of the funds were invested with a securities firm.
There was only one slight problem—Christ congregation was eager to sell, but had no place to go. Therefore, arrangements were made for Christ congregation to rent their former property from the new owners from November 1992 to February 14, 1993. At that time, we were able to relocate to a suitable strip shopping center at 7305 South Hulen and Kingswood Streets.
Christ Congregation Counseled by District Representative
Because of a certain degree of instability within the congregation, Texas District President, Rev. Kieschnick, assigned Dr. Will Sohns to counsel our congregation. Approximately 34 members volunteered to be interviewed by Dr. Sohns in early December 1993. Dr. Sohns returned February 27, 1994, to present his findings to the membership of Christ along with his recommendations.
Baptist Church Offers to Buy Cityview Property
Christ congregation considered a contract from Cityview Baptist Church (March 6, 1994) to purchase our 15.8 acres of land in far southwest Fort Worth. Our voters’ assembly approved sending a counter offer to the Baptist church.
Resignation and Farewell Service
The Rev. Ronald Wagner presented his letter of resignation as Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. The voters’ assembly accepted his resignation. His farewell service was April 15, 1994.
Brief Vacancy Created
Pastor Wagner’s departure created another vacancy; however, within a few days, Christ congregation received notification that a “turnaround pastor” from Minnesota desired to relocate, possibly in one of the southern states. Christ congregation immediately responded. It was as though Christ congregation was blessed through the efforts of the Texas District President, the Rev. Jerry Kieschnick and his staff, the Rev. Will Sohns and the Rev. Ken Hennings.
Visit by the Rev. Norman Steinke
During the week preceding Sunday, April 24, 1994, the Rev. Norman Steinke of Woodbury, MN, met with the leaders of Christ Lutheran. His presentation dealt with the turnaround activities he was involved in for most of his 30 years in the ministry. In return, a question-and-answer session was conducted between Rev. Steinke and the congregational leaders.
Pastor Steinke agreed to conduct the service and also deliver the sermon on April 24, 1994. During the following weeks, he evaluated Christ Lutheran after having received a call from Christ congregation.