History

Through the efforts, faith and foresight of some spiritually minded men of the Peoria Area Brotherhood, a mission church was established early in 1947 to serve and promote God’s word in the Beverly Manor area.  The first service was held in the basement of a home and was conducted by Pastor H.C. Hafermann of Zion Lutheran Church in Peoria.  For the next nine years, services were conducted by vicars and visiting pastors from area churches.

At that time the church was known as Beverly Manor Lutheran Church.  Ground was broken on September 28, 1947 for a church building on Vohland Street in Beverly Manor.  This building was financed and built by volunteer labor of the Peoria Area Brotherhoods with local assistance.  Until the parsonage was built, the ministers lived in the church itself using the kitchen in the basement and an apartment known as the ministers den.

When Beverly Manor School was being built in 1949 and 1950, the school temporarily used the church building to hold first through fourth grade classes.  Already Faith Lutheran was becoming an important gathering place for the larger community outside its church family.

In 1950 a church council of four men and two women was selected.  This was quite progressive for the times since women did not often occupy such leadership roles.

The congregation voted to change the church’s name to Faith Lutheran Church in 1951 which was also the year that the church held its first wedding.

Pastor Russell Comnick was installed as the first full-time pastor on July 1, 1956.  Under the guidance of Pastor Comnick, the congregation grew to the extent that it was necessary to hold two morning worship services.   The need for expansion was being felt and the decision was made to not add on to the existing building, but instead to build a new building on a completely new site.  Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on April 24, 1960 at the present location of Faith Lutheran.  Once again a great deal of labor to construct the new building was donated by volunteers.  Tragically, Otto Gess, while doing cement work at the church, collapsed and died on the front steps.  An entry table was donated to the church by his widow.  The building was completed in 1961.

Pastor Comnick was followed by other dedicated and charismatic spriritual leaders who each brought different gifts to the community of Faith Lutheran Church.  Pastor Lee Luebke served from 1963 to 1965 and is remembered as a moving preacher and for his great sense of humor.

Pastor Schlueter was the minister at Faith from 1965 to 1979.  The present parsonage was completed shortly after Schlueter’s arrival in part because he rolled up his sleeves and helped complete the interior of the house.  Pastor Schlueter is credited with developing the youth programs at Faith to the extent that the church became known in the community as a youth oriented church.  Sunday School classes were crowded and confirmation classes had high expectations of confirmands.   After confirmation, many youth became active members of Luther League which not only provided an environment for Christian service but also a lot of social activity in a Christian setting.  Most notably, the Faith Lutheran Childcare Center was established in 1974 during Pastor Schlueter’s tenure.

Pastor Karl Otto served Faith Lutheran Church from 1979 to 1994.  Otto is credited with starting Crossways, an intensive 2-year program of Bible study, and also for beginning the Stephen Ministry program.  Stephen ministers undergo extensive training before they perform one-on-one ministry to people in crisis.   Pastor Otto had the honor of turning the first shovel of dirt in a groundbreaking in 1991 that began work on a 7200 square foot addition built to the church.   The addition greatly enlarged the worship area and added a fellowship room, a kitchen and two restrooms to the upper level while providing more classrooms and storage to the childcare center in the lower level.  The renovation was blessed in a dedication ceremony in February 1992.

Pastor Mark Boster was called to ministry at Faith Lutheran in 1994.  Boster is fondly remembered by the people of Faith as an optimistic, enthusiastic and energetic spiritual leader.  The church membership increased markedly under Boster with a noticeable increase in the number of young families in attendance.  Many of those families have remained faithful to Faith and are now leaders in the current church.

In early 2006 Pastor John Rothfusz came to Faith after having served as pastor at St. Peters Lutheran Church in Arenzville for 8 years.  He is active and engaged in the many programs, projects and ministries that Faith Lutheran currently offers. Pastor John presided over a moving ground breaking ceremony in July 2007 for a new childcare center that was built on the ground just behind the church itself.  The center had been envisioned by church members who had worked hard to make it a reality for over 10 years. Pastor John is married to Elise, who is also a pastor currently serving another area church.  They have three children.

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