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, when he took a call to Trinity, Hudson WI. Jeffery Moore served as Intentional Interim Pastor from Feb-Sept 2019, assuming all roles of senior pastor.
Nathan Schaus was added as Faith's first Associate Pastor in August 2000 following his graduation from Concordia Seminary-St. Louis. He served until 2004 when he took a call to Faith Community Lutheran Church, Las Vegas NV. Dave Hall then came as Associate Pastor from 2004 until May 2008 when he took a call to Holy Cross, Colorado Springs CO. 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, receiving a call to Shepherd of the Desert in Scottsdale AZ. 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.
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 when he moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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 as Executive Director of Education for the Kansas District in 2005. From 2006-2013, Audrey Duensing-Werner served as DCE, overseeing youth and family ministry, then she took a call to Concordia Lutheran Church, Kirkwood MO. In December 2014, Heather McCormick was called to be Director of Youth & Family Ministry after graduating from Concordia-St. Paul.
Directors of Children's Ministry
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. In March 2012, she took a call to Shepherd of the Valley, West Des Moines, Iowa. In 2017, Faith worked with Concordia-St. Paul to have Ben Meyer serve as a 1-year DCE Intern. Hannah Elsey joined the staff full time in January 2019 to assist in children's ministry and work towards completing her DCE certification through Concordia-Irvine.
Other staffing leadership
Faith created the position of Director of Music in 1997. Linda Laird, an organist and choir director at Faith since 1976, became the first to fill this position. 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.
After completing a two-year study through the Kansas District LCMS, several of our members were completed the Lay Leadership Institute. Their role is to help the pastors and lead staff in worship, visitation of members and other duties as needed. Currently, we are being served by Jeff Lane (lay deacon) and Mary Shaw (parish assistant).
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). Faith's Early Learning Center closed in December 2012 due to economic changes. The Center 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. They tell the Apostles' Creed in picture (click here for more information).
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. 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 equipment was significantly upgraded and enhanced to allow for live-streaming worship via Facebook.
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
During Pastor Pete's tenure, ministry expanded by adding more worship services, focusing our vision to "grow in faith and share Christ's love," and restructuring the constitution/bylaws and leadership.
Contemporary worship began in August 2000 when Pastor Nate was added to staff. It is served by a Praise Team of Faith members including singers and a band. The Sunday evening blended worship was discontinued in 2012. It served the needs of worshipers for 14 years.
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.