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History of Christ Lutheran Church Madisonville, Kentucky A Mighty Fortress is Our God The first Lutheran service was conducted in Madisonville on Easter Sunday, April 22, 1973, by Pastor Art Lossner, then Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The service was held in the auditorium of the Madisonville Junior College with about 20 people attending. The preceding November (1972) a number of families had begun a series of meetings to study the possibility of beginning a Lutheran congregation in Madisonville. Following [the] Easter service, worship continued for several months in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Donald Christ – 73 Comer Drive. In July of that year, the Seventh Day Adventist Church at West Noel and Denton Drive became the regular place of worship under a rental agreement. The group incorporated under Kentucky state law on October 8, 1973. For several years, the development of the congregation remained primarily a spontaneous layman’s effort without official support and direction from any national Lutheran body. Since the Lutheran Church in America had been granted a pre-emption by the Lutheran Council in the United States of America for mission development in the Madisonville area, early in 1974 inquiries were addressed to the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the L.C.A. regarding the possibility of obtaining a Mission Developer and financial support. In response, Dr. Lowell Buss, Assistant to Dr. Wick, Synod President, met with a group and requested that a “mission profile” be developed. Dr. Donald Houser, Director for Church Extension, accompanied Dr. Buss to a second meeting in October in which procedures and guidelines for establishing a mission under L.C.A. auspices were discussed and assurance of support was given. After pressure of other duties led to Pastor Lossner’s resignation on October 20, 1974, services were continued by chaplains from Fort Campbell. In September of the next year  Pastor Robert Johnson, a graduate of Seminex in St. Louis, MO accepted the call as mission developer. Pastor Johnson preached his first sermon on October 19, 1975 and was installed by Dr. Buss on November 2, 1975. Under Pastor Johnson, the procedure of the L.C.A. for establishing a new congregation was carried out, modified somewhat by the special circumstances of this congregation’s development. On January 4, 1976, the Charter was opened and signed by 26 adults and 24 children. Thereupon, the congregation adopted a Constitution and by-laws on October 30, 1977, and in a special service on November 7th was formally organized as a congregation of the Lutheran Church in America. Pastor Johnson was called to serve as the first pastor of the newly organized congregation. That same month, the L.C.A. purchased a lot on North Main Street for a future building site. The congregation was admitted to membership in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod as the first item of business at the convention on May 18, 1978. Revised Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. After serving three years, first as Mission Developer and then as Pastor, Pastor Johnson submitted his resignation, effective October 15, 1978, to accept a call to ministry at Bethany Lutheran Church, South Bend, Indiana. On March 6, 1979 the congregation extended a call to Gill W. Krouse, a graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Pastor Krouse conducted his first service on June 17th and was installed September 16, 1979. On June 30, 1980, Pastor Krouse submitted his resignation to accept a call to Messiah Lutheran Church in Louisville, Kentucky. On August 10, 1980, the congregation extended a call to Pastor Robert Whitenack, then serving Antioch Lutheran Church in Hoagland, Indiana. Pastor Whitenack and wife, Donna, arrived in December. His first service was conducted December 7, 1980 and he was installed into office January 5, 1981. As activities, attendance and interest and support increased under Pastor Whitenack’s leadership, enthusiasm grew for a permanent place of worship. A “Dream and Vision Committee” met January 25, 1982 with Dr. Lowell Buss and Dr. Harold Nielsen of the L.C.A. to explore possibilities for construction of a church building. After Dr. Nielsen responded positively, a building committee was formed with the following membership: Roger Meyerhoff, Chairman, K.C. Zellich, Craig Simmons, Darrell Englehardt, and James Stutler. Following the death of James Stutler (April 16, 1982), Phyllis Stutler was invited to serve on the building committee. Mr. John Dyer was appointed to serve a chairperson of the “Forward in Faith” fund-raising effort. After many meetings and much deliberation, and with assurance of support from the L.C.A., a congregational meeting was held in which the members voted to “build a house of ministry to the Glory of God.” The congregation voted to use the fund-raising assistance of the Lutheran Layman’s Movement (LLM), and to pledge financial and personal support of the building effort. The “Forward in Faith” effort began September 7, 1982, under the direction of Mr. Robert Neubauer, LLM counselor. The enthusiasm of the members was vividly demonstrated by pledges totaling $47,772 for the building fund in 1983, 1984, 1985. This challenge was far above the amount set as the initial goal! In November 1984 the congregation purchased the building site from the Lutheran Church in America for a cost of $28,300.00. The deed to the property was then placed with Christ Lutheran Church, Madisonville, Kentucky and is placed on file in the Hopkins County Court House. An architect was hired on June 5, 1983, and the construction plans for the new church were given final approval. On September 8, 1983 a ground breaking service was held with Bishop Ralph Kempski participating. On December 12, 1983, a contract for construction was awarded. The first work was begun on Epiphany Day, January 6, 1984. The service for “The Laying of the Cornerstone” was held on September 9, 1984. It was a day of consecration at the building site for the entire congregation. Bishop Ralph Kempski was present and led us in worship in Holy Communion. Roger Meyerhoff and K.C. Zellich placed the cornerstone. The first service of worship in the new church took place on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1984. Ninety nine members and friends of the congregation gathered together in anointed hush of that “Silent Night, Holy Night, Christ, our Savior is born!” “Moving Day” from the Seventh Day Adventist facility arrived on June 2, 1985. What a day of great thanksgiving to be a part of the excited procession to Christ Lutheran Church on North Main Street! The congregation, bearing the cross, the candlesticks, the Bible, the paraments, the communion vessels, the hymnals, and the banner of faith stood emotionally along the entrance sidewalk as Pastor Whitenack knocked on the church door. The white ribbon was cut and 111 men, women and children entered the sanctuary triumphantly singing, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God!” The reality of a dream and a vision for a Lutheran witness in Madisonville was coming to pass. Thanks be to God! The Celebration of Dedication of Christ Lutheran Church August 25, 1985. Pastor Whitenack served as liturgist along with members of the church council and building committee, and Art Lossner (our “pioneer” of faith for Christ Lutheran Church) gave the sermon at the morning worship service. Anthems of “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” filled the sanctuary. There was an open house in the afternoon for all of our sister congregations in the Evansville District of the synod, and for many community friends and neighbors. A lovely reception was sponsored by the Christ Lutheran Women. A service of worship and dedication was held at 4:00 p.m. with Bishop Ralph Kempski once again bringing his message of joy and thanksgiving to the glory of God. Members of the church council at the time of dedication were Dr. John W. Pate (lay vice- president), Michael Drahovzal, Craig Simmons, Darrell Englehardt, Michael Cox and Phyllis Stutler. Treasurer of the congregation, Kitty Simmons. Secretary to the church council, Marie Whitenack. Organist, Mrs. Deborah Cox and Choir Director, Mr. Michael Cox. Early in its history, Christ congregation adopted the following statement of mission: “It is the purpose of Christ Lutheran Church to grow in the fellowship of worshipping, learning, witnessing and serving Christ in a community of love. As part of the Family of God, we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to grow in numbers, in loving and caring in our families, the Church, the community and the world.” The record shows that the congregation is taking this statement of mission seriously. Attendance in worship services and Sunday church school has steadily increased. New members have been added. Genuine Christian fellowship has been evident in potluck meals, in “coffee & conversation” and in the friendly spirit of the membership. Caring and concern show in 100% benevolence apportionment offerings, in loving service to residents of a local nursing home, in sharing fresh flowers with those who receive “meals-on-wheels”, in the food gathering for the needy, and in ready response to others who have special problems and pleas. Taking part in the times offered for prayer and Bible study have served as a source of spiritual strength and personal growth. Through Christ Lutheran Church, God has provided an opportunity for a strong witness of faith and love for the sake of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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