CONCORDIA LUTHERAN CHURCH
Louisville, Kentucky
Established 1878

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A Capsule History of Concordia – Louisville
1878 – 2003

Church/School on right (now parish building)
Parsonage on left
Circa 1928

Concordia was founded by Lutheran German immigrants at a time when there was no German Lutheran congregation in Louisville. Arrangements were made for Pastor F. W. Pohlmann, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, to come to Louisville on Sunday afternoons to hold evening services. The first service was held on February 3, 1878, at which about thirty people were in attendance.

Six services later, a two-paragraph constitution was drawn up. The name chosen for the new congregation was (translated from German), "The First German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

On November 29, 1878, the congregation issued a call to Pastor Pohlmann. He accepted the call and was installed on the first Sunday in January 1879.

The congregation’s first meeting place was in a Presbyterian chapel at Clay and Broadway until 1880, when the German Methodist church was purchased. This building on Clay near Market is still standing but is not used as a church. Almost immediately, in addition to his pastoral duties, Pastor Pohlmann started a Christian Day School serving as the teacher until 1884, when a full-time teacher was called.

As the congregation and Louisville continued to grow, Pastor Pohlmann planted the seeds of the Second German Lutheran Church to accommodate the people in the western part of Louisville. This is now Redeemer Lutheran Church.

In 1899 Pastor Pohlmann accepted the second call he had received from the Lutheran congregation in Sauers, Indiana. To replace him, the congregation extended a call to Pastor Otto C. Praetorius in Wartburg, Tennessee. Pastor Praetorius accepted the call to become Concordia’s second pastor.

By 1892 the congregation had outgrown the Clay Street building. A committee was formed to explore the possibilities of either buying a larger church building or purchasing property and building new facilities. The decision was to purchase property on Broadway (our present location). The need was for a church, a school, and a parsonage, but because of financial restraints, all three could not be done at once. The decision was to first build an all-purpose building on the back part of the property to temporarily accommodate the church and the school. Later, when financially able, they would build the permanent church in front. The cornerstone for the all-purpose building (the present parish building) was laid on October 16, 1892.

In the 1920’s "German" was dropped from the name and discussion began toward building the church that had been delayed. A building fund was started but before any decisions were made, Pastor Praetorius suffered a stroke necessitating his resignation after 28 years as pastor of the congregation.

A call was issued to Pastor Carl A. Eberhard in Chicago. He accepted the call and was installed on November 6, 1927. In March, 1928, The Messenger began publication. Also in 1928 a new Whippet automobile was purchased for the pastor’s use. Prior to that, pastoral calls were made by public transportation.

Through diligent effort by Pastor Eberhard, America’s foremost Gothic Revival church architect, Ralph Adams Cram of New York City was engaged to design the new church building. The stained glass windows, designed and made by Connick and Sons of Boston, were acquired through memorials over a span of some forty years. A sample of the temporary windows is displayed on the foyer door. Most of the memorial furnishings are listed in the Memorial Book displayed on the west wall of the sanctuary. The lectern, designed by Cram and Ferguson, was hand-carved by Pastor Eberhard.

Early in 1930, the name of the congregation was changed to "Concordia Lutheran Church". The dedication of the sanctuary was on December 7, 1930. The word "concordia" is Latin for peace, harmony, accord, etc., a fitting name indeed.
 

Concordia not only served its members spiritually, but served the community as well. It played a part in the rescue operation during the 1937 flood when two-thirds of Louisville was under water. The water came within 200 feet of the church property. An aid station was established in Concordia’s auditorium to assist people rescued from their homes. Immunization shots were given along with food and clothing. Volunteers worked in shifts around the clock. Not many of our church members were personally affected by the high water but many of our members were volunteers.
 


 

During Pastor Eberhard’s tenure as pastor, additional property on both sides of the church was acquired, forming the parking lot on the west and the lawn on the east.

Marking the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination, Pastor Eberhard retired as pastor of Concordia on August 31, 1975. His offer to continue to serve as pastor until his successor would be installed was gratefully accepted.

The call extended to Pastor Roger Eden was accepted. He was installed January 11, 1976.

In July, 1976, Concordia, jointly with Redeemer congregation, sponsored a Laotian refugee family. Living quarters were provided for them in what had been the janitor’s apartment in Concordia’s parish building. The Laotian parents and their three children were baptized. After about a year in Louisville, the family decided to move to Houston, Texas to live with relatives.

1978 marked the 100th anniversary of the congregation. Special observances were held throughout the year. An anniversary book was published and commemorative plates made.

In October 1984, Concordia became Workcenter #1702 of Lutheran Braille Workers, printing and mailing sermons in Braille worldwide to the blind. Also in the 1980’s, partial renovation of the parish building was accomplished.

In April of 1988 Pastor Eden accepted a call to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. To replace him, a call was issued to Pastor Parker A. Knoll. He accepted the call and installation was on September 11, 1988.

Concordia was the source for researching the work of Ralph Adams Cram, the architect of Concordia’s sanctuary and other significant churches in the world. The work was part of an assignment by the Art/History Department of the University of Louisville. Later, in 1994, Concordia was again the subject of research. This time the work of master carver Les Jewell of London, England. Mr. Jewell, an associate of Herbert Read, did the carving on Concordia’s altar, pulpit, reredos, triptych hymn board, traceries on the communion rail and the spandrels in the choir, organ and chancel screens.

Pastor Knoll, accepted a call to Iowa in June 1995.

A call was extended to Pastor Curtis Peters of New Albany, Indiana. The call was accepted and he was installed on October 15, 1995, as the sixth pastor of Concordia. Pastor Peters was no stranger to Concordia. He had filled in at various times during absences and vacancies.

In 1997 Concordia acquired all the property to Barrett Avenue. Concordia experienced a period of renewal and expansion in the 1990s, which necessitated a review of our building. This resulted in the creation of a Mission & Ministry plan for the church which looked at all aspects of our facilities and plans for the future. In January, 2000, the Voters' Assembly approved a plan to remodel and expand the parish hall.

A Building Faith campaign was begun, which ultimately resulted in over $800,000 pledged for the reconstruction. Work was begun in February, 2001. Laborers for Christ, a group of volunteer construction laborers, was also involved in the building project. The remodeling and expansion was completed in 2002.

In 2003 Concordia celebrated its 125th anniversary. The event was marked with four celebrations through the year with the themes of Baptism, Evangelism and Missions, Christian Education and the Family, and Communion of Saints.

We praise and thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on Concordia the past 125 years and pray that he blesses our efforts to make Concordia a beloved church home for many for the next 125 years.
 


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