The first attempt to start a Lutheran mission in Bartlesville was in 1908 by Pastor Karstensen of Coffeyville, Kansas. Several families held worship services in their homes, but after about a year, the services were discontinued.
|Washington County Courthouse|
W. Brackensiek, missionary-at-large for Oklahoma, began services again in the fall of 1922, and Pastor Karl Frese of Tulsa took over the work after a short time. Services were held over Laderer's Clothing Store, and then they were moved to a room in the Washington County Courthouse. The singing was often accompanied by sounds from the County Jail which was directly above. On August 10, 1930, Pastor Clarence Schultz was ordained as the new minister, and in April, 1931, Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bartlesville was organized.
|The Parsonage - 1935||The Chapel - 1935|
In May 1935, the church purchased a parsonage and an adjoining vacant lot at Fourth and Wyandotte. A chapel was built and dedicated in November. The church began to grow rapidly, attaining an average attendance of about 50, and their debt was nearly cut in half by a $2,000 gift from the Frank Phillips Foundation.
|Ninth and Cherokee - 1948|
Pastor Hornbostel was installed on February 3, 1946, and shortly thereafter, the Senior Choir, which had begun as a venture of the Men's Club at Christmas of 1945, was organized. In October 1946 the church became self-supporting, having been financially assisted by other Lutheran congregations in Oklahoma for 15 years. In May 1948 the property at Ninth and Cherokee was purchased. The building was completed and dedicated in the Spring of 1952. Pastor Hornbostel left in August 1953, and the church called Pastor Gilbert Becker to be pastor. Communicant membership had reached 163 and average Sunday worship attendance was 100.
In 1958 the congregation purchased 5 acres in Woodland Park. In 1959, the Building Committee chose Bruce Goff to design the Education Building. Working plans were approved and ground was broken in April 1961. The building was dedicated in December of that same year. Immediately, all of the Sunday School classes were moved to the Education Building, with worship services still being held downtown.
|Original architactural models by Bruce Goff and Associates|
The 1960s were a time of tremendous growth for Redeemer. By the autumn of 1964, the Education Building was so crowded that a third of the Sunday School classes were moved back to the downtown building. In 1966, worship attendance reached its peak of 370 each Sunday.
The 1970s brought new ways for Redeemer to minister to the community. In 1971, a Midweek School was started for children in grades 5-8 and in 1972, grades 3 and 4 were added. In 1974, the Fellowship Meal became a part of Midweek. Redeemer sponsored a Vietnamese refugee family. Improvements were also made on Redeemer's physical properties. A new parsonage was completed in 1972. Two new organs were purchased.
In March 1981, ground was broken for a new worship area adjoining the Education Building. In February 1982, the new building was dedicated. In June 1984 Rev. Duane Lueck was installed as assistant pastor. Upon Pastor Becker's retirement in 1986, Rev. Lueck became the senior pastor. He accepted another call in in February 1987, and in August 1987, Pastor Joel Christiansen was installed.
Once again, an emphasis was placed on new ways to minister to Redeemer's members and to the community. A church van was purchased to be used to assist people in the congregation and the community. In September of 1988 the congregation resumed two worship services. In 1989, the church began to sponsor a Mother's Day Out ministry, and bells were purchased and a bell choir was organized.
In 1992, renovations began on the Education Building. The integrity of the building was kept, but changes were made to make the building more usable. A youth room was enclosed downstairs and the kitchen was enlarged. In addition to the work done on the Education Building, the narthex area outside the sanctuary was enlarged. Redeemer still focuses on ministering not only to its own members but to the community as well. The Mother's Day Out ministry provides services for many families, most of whom are not members of our church. Midweek JAMM provides a fun and caring atmosphere for kids of all ages who, along with parents, can learn the love of Jesus and how to share that love with others. Redeemer also has a CAREgroup ministry that focuses on creating small groups to study the Word and develop close relationships which enhance a caring and supportive network within the church
Church history supplied by the Rev. Gilbert C. Becker, Pastor Emeritus
Photos courtesy of Lewis Thompson