The Early Years
On May 11, 1948, 28 people began a congregation under the guidance of Rev. Fred Duever. By summer, the congregation chose the name Faith Lutheran Church. The chapel was dedicated on June 19, 1949. In 1951, Faith joined together with St. John’s, St. Paul’s, and Hope Lutheran congregations to form the Topeka Lutheran School Association.
Following Pastor Duever’s move to Crystal Lake, IL in September 1954, Paul Heckmann served as pastor from 1955-1965. During this time, an addition was added to the original building which provided a larger worship space which includes a pipe organ, fellowship hall, large kitchen and Sunday School rooms. In 1966, the former parsonage basement was remodeled for more classroom space and the main level was used for the church offices. They focused their energies on a youth and education ministry which continued to grow.
Expanding and Changing Staff
John Rath became Faith’s pastor in 1965 and retired July 1995. Under his leadership, he helped to grow and shape the congregation in the Topeka community. During the late 1960’s, Faith became a training ground for future pastors as Arthur Wilde, Jay Frazell, David Carstens, and Fred Jordan served their vicarage/internship. George Bruening was added as an assistant pastor from 1992-95. Peter Tremain was called as pastor in 1996, following Pastor Rath’s retirement from active ministry. Pastor Pete retired in June 2008. In January 2009, Jim Bender was installed as senior pastor and served until April 2018. Jeffery Moore served as Intentional Interim Pastor from Feb-Sept 2019, assuming all roles of senior pastor. In October 2020, Jacob Heine was installed as senior pastor.
Nathan Schaus was added as Faith's first Associate Pastor in August 2000 following his graduation from Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, serving until 2004. Dave Hall then came as Associate Pastor from 2004 until May 2008. Jacob Wampfler received his placement as Associate Pastor from Concordia Seminary-St. Louis and was ordained and installed at Faith in July 2014 and served until July 2020. Martin Albrecht was ordained and installed in January 2016 as part of the Specific Ministry Program (SMP) through Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, and serves Faith as Assistant Pastor. Jeff Lane was installed as vicar in March 2022 and is also going through the SMP program to become a pastor.
DIRECTORS of CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
In 1970, Faith called Bob Lehmann as DCE in the areas of youth and education. Steve Sonnenberg served from 1973-1980. Al Gunderman served as DCE from 1981-1990 when he was called as Kansas District Executive Director of Education. In 1991, Jim Bradshaw began serving as DCE until he also was called to serve at the Kansas District Office in 2005. From 2006-2013, Audrey Duensing-Werner served as DCE, overseeing youth and family ministry. In December 2014, Heather McCormick was called to be Director of Youth & Family Ministry after graduating from Concordia-St. Paul. In 2017, Faith worked with Concordia-St. Paul to have Ben Meyer serve as a 1-year DCE Intern. Hannah Elsey joined the staff in January 2019 while completing her DCE certification through Concordia-Irvine. She was commissioned as DCE and installed as Faith's Director of Mission & Outreach on July 30, 2023.
OTHER STAFFING LEADERSHIP
Faith created the position of Director of Music in 1997. Linda Laird, serving as organist since 1978, became the first to fill this position which also included choir director. She retired in June 2007 after serving Faith for more than 25 years. Young Hee Chung served as Director of Worship Ministry from 2008 to 2010, overseeing all areas relating to worship and music. Linda came out of retirement in 2010 as a part-time organist/Adult Choir director, retiring in June 2022 being given the honor of Music Director Emeritus. Linda Meyer shifted her office job description from communications to Director of Music and Worship Arts in August 2022, directing all choirs and praise band, planning all worship services, and overseeing tech.
Marilyn Shults served in children’s ministry as a volunteer, then as Director of Children’s Ministry part time in 1998, and was installed in 2001 as a full-time director until In March 2012. Faith’s Early Childhood Center opened in 1995 with Roxanne Bilfinger as the director. Other directors to follow were Angie Mundt (1997-1999), Judy Burget (1999-2009) and Stephanie Erickson (2009-2012). The Center closed in December 2012 due to economic changes, but served the community for 17 years beginning first as a preschool then becoming a full-time daycare center.
Enhancing our Facility
Faith's stained glass is often commented on by those driving by the corner of 17th & Gage. The Faith memorial windows in the sanctuary are gifts from various individuals. They have been given over a period of years and were dedicated on June 4, 1978 as part of the celebration of Faith's 30th Anniversary. The entirety tells the Apostles' Creed in picture (more info. And see the article in the Topeka Capitol-Journal (12.25.20).
In 1992-1993, Faith completed another addition by adding an education wing, enlarging the lobby/narthex, and making the facility handicap accessible. Many hours of volunteer labor by church members helped reduce the cost of the new wing and create a sense of ownership within the congregation. In 2004, the chancel area was remodeled including adding a projector and screen to better serve both styles of worship and be more flexible for special programs and events.
In 2006, Faith purchased the two properties east of the church on 17th Terrace. The house farthest east was moved off the property and the “Hoffman House” was used for some education classes, but was demolished in 2018 to make room for possible future expansion. Currently the area is dubbed "on the green" and allows for open-area activities.
In 2015, Faith approved purchasing from Topeka Lutheran School the two residential lots and northeast corner parking area on SW Atwood to the south of our property. In 2018, Faith completed the purchase of the remaining block from TLS. A Site Planning Task Force is continues to evaluate the development of our unused properties to advance our ministry and mission.
A new sound and lighting update, including a move of the sound tech station into the sanctuary to allow more space in the balcony, was completed in early 2019. In 2020, during the COVID-19 shutdown, the video, camera, screen and computer equipment were significantly upgraded and enhanced to allow for live-streaming worship via Facebook and YouTube. In 2022, all new energy-efficient windows were installed in the Fellowship Hall. The old single-paned windows were original to the building.
Faith was given a three octave set of Schulmerich handbells in 2003 and began ringing as a bell choir the following year. The bells have been expanded to 5 octaves plus 5 octaves of hand chimes. Through donations and memorials, we have a Baldwin Grand piano and a Roland digital grand. A new organ was installed and dedicated in 2007. Mid-States Organ Company worked for a year to build and install a pipe organ with three manuals, 21 stops and 24 ranks.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
In August 2000, a third morning worship at 9:30 was added (overlapping 2 education times) in the Contemporary style, with a Praise Team of Faith members including singers and a band. The Sunday evening 6:00 blended worship was discontinued in 2012. It served the needs of worshipers for 14 years. In 2023, it was decided to go back to two morning services (8:00 traditional & 10:45 contemporary) with a dedicated 9:30 education hour.
A midweek program called WOW (Word On Wednesdays) began in 2008 as another option for children and families to in the Word and in relationship to others. The evening begins with a family-style meal then using a Bible story from Sunday's worship, kids engage through activities, interactive games, and creative crafts that help activate their faith.
During 2016-2019, we focused on a "Grow to Share" vision which challenged members with new avenues of ministry so that more people might know Christ's love by living and giving generously... through his grace, across generations, and around our globe. During this time, Faith retired its mortgage from the 1992 education wing addition. The mortgage was burned in a special outdoor Reformation worship on Oct 28, 2018.
In June 2023, Faith celebrated 75 years of ministry and discipleship in the Topeka community. A 3-day celebration culminated in a special worship service followed by a banquet.