LUTHERAN CHURCH AND SCHOOL OF MESSIAH – CHURCH HISTORY
Colorado District Mission Board of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
The history of Lutheran Church and School of Messiah began In 1923 when the Colorado District Mission Board sent Pastor Kreutz to look things over in the area around Glenwood Springs, Colo. They called it an “exploration trip.” The Board brought in Pastor John Knippenberg in 1928 to assist with the mission work in the Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Aspen, Grand Junction areas. Upon his arrival in Colorado from California in 1928, Pastor Knippenberg wrote: “I arrived in Glenwood Springs by train from California on Aug. 25, 1928, a Saturday, and was installed early in the afternoon on the following day … The circumstances were very unusual to say the least. Most of the people attending were originally from Germany and originally Lutheran. (Thierfelder, Thomas, “Changes in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Peaks and Valleys, Rocky Mountain District).
Lutheran Church of Messiah, Grand Junction CO
The Church began with its first meeting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Al Nestler, June 4, 1929. It’s First service was held Nov. 8, 1931, in Labor Temple, 541 Rood Ave. Subsequent to the Colorado Mission Board efforts, Pastor Knippenberg was called to serve as Messiah’s first pastor in 1933.
First Sanctuary Building
During the service of Pastor Martin E. Meyer, a sanctuary building was secured. After WWII, a surplus chapel was obtained in 1946 from Camp Hale CO, home of the 10th Mountain Division. This served as Messiah’s sanctuary from 1946-1967. (Military use of Camp Hale included the 10th Mountain Division, the 38th Regimental Combat Team, 99th Infantry Battalion, and soldiers from Fort Carson conducting mountain and winter warfare training exercises from 1942 to 1965. “Camp Hale Site History,” http://www.camphale.org)
New Sanctuary Completed
The surplus sanctuary building that had served for the ministry to the Lord’s flock at Messiah was replaced during the service of Pastor Bernard Staake. Construction of a new sanctuary was completed in 1967.
School Wing Added
During the service of Pastor Marcus Lang, an educational wing consisting of a gymnasium and four classrooms were added in 1978, and Lutheran School of Messiah was opened in 1979. The church was now officially named Lutheran Church and School of Messiah.
Fire of 1989
On September 11, 1989, during the time that John Meyers and Timothy Puls were pastors, an arsonist started fires at five church locations in Grand Junction. The sanctuary of Lutheran Church and School of Messiah was destroyed. Through a marvelous miracle the original communion ware and a 2-foot high sanctuary cross were recovered in the rubble. Although badly covered in black soot, they were lovingly restored and became a continuation of the artifacts that were so dear in the Word and Sacrament ministry to God’s flock at Messiah.
In 1990 the new sanctuary and fellowship hall were completed. The main office suite, library, and gymnasium were restored, having survived the fire. The second education wing was added in 1992 which included 5 additional classrooms and a teachers’ work room.
- Pastor John Knippenberg (1933-1940)
- Pastor Martin E. Meyer (1940-1048)
- Pastor Norman W. Heinsoth (1949-1955)
- Pastor M.F. Scheel (1955-1961)
- Pastor Henry Rische (1961-1963)
- Pastor Bernard Staake (1963-1976)
- Pastor Marcus Lang (1976-1981)
- Pastor John W. Meyers (1982-1992)
- Associate Pastor Timothy R. Puls (1989-1992)
- Pastor Gary Buss (1993-2014 – d. Aug. 19, 2014)
- Associate Pastor Bruce Skelton (1998-2004)
- Associate Pastor Timothy D. Storck (2007-2015)
- Pastor Michael Redeker (2017-present)
- Assistant Pastor Joshua Schmidt (2018-present)
First wedding: Harry and Dorothy Hall (Feb. 9, 1947)
Lay Missionary to Japan: Lisa Spengler (1986-1990)