OUR HISTORY…GOD’S GUIDANCE AND BLESSING
In late 1959, the idea of a mission church in Dubuque originated with Pastor William Reddel and the members of St. Paul Lutheran Church on Jackson Street. The city was growing in both population and area, which indicated the advisability of a mission congregation to better serve God’s people as well reach the unchurched.
Under the guidance and funding of the Mission Board of the Iowa District East-Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, three and one half acres of land was purchased on Old Timers Road, now known as John F. Kennedy Road. Pastor Kenneth Rogahn was called by the Iowa District-East as missionary at large to organize the new mission. The first service of the fledgling congregation was held on November 6, 1960, at the Dubuque County Farm Bureau building. Fifty-six souls gathered to worship our merciful Triune God.
One year later, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church was organized as a congregation with a charter membership of 126 baptized souls and 57 communicant members. On May 21, 1961, fifteen children were baptized. The Lord of the Church brings the increase. The first vacation Bible school was held that summer at Irving School, with five classrooms being used to house the sixty-two children enrolled. On August 13, 1961, ground was broken to construct the first unit of the church, and the Voter’s Assembly officially chose the name Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. The constitution and by-laws were adopted, as well as Articles of Incorporation.
In January, 1962, 174 souls gathered to dedicate the newly constructed sanctuary, Sunday School, and fellowship hall. Cost of the building was $85,000, with the Iowa District-East paying sixty percent, and the congregation the remaining balance. Some of the furnishings for the sanctuary, such as the altar, lectern and cross, were made by church members. A pump organ was loaned by St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Sherrill. Pastor Kenneth Rogahn was installed as the first Pastor of Our Redeemer on that date. A parsonage was rented at 847 Kane St. in Dubuque.
Pastor Rogahn tendered his resignation on May 31, 1962 to enter the teaching ministry of the church. On July 15, 1962, Pastor Lambert G. Gabbert was installed as the second Pastor of the congregation. During his tenure, a parsonage was purchased at 2677 North Grandview. During 1964, the Iowa District-East provided a deaconess Audrey Vanderbles, to Our Redeemer.
In September, 1965, ground was broken for a new Christian Education Unit. The work was completed in early 1966. The new addition contained seven classrooms, an office, two restrooms, boiler room and a mechanical room. Cost of the new additions was $80,000. Pastor Gabbert accepted a call to Tennessee on May 8, 1966.
Trusting in the Lord of the Church, a divine call was extended to Pastor David Anderson in July 1966. Pastor Anderson was lead by the Holy Spirit to accept the call to Our Redeemer, and was installed on September 4, 1966. The congregation continued to grow in spirit and numbers, and in 1970 went off District subsidy. In March, 1970, the congregation added a second divine service on Sunday mornings. In September, 1971, a Day Nursery School was established, with class one day a week for two hours. On July 29, 1973, Pastor Anderson accepted a call to serve God’s people in Crookston, Minnesota.
On December 3, 1973, a divine call was extended from Our Redeemer to Pastor L. G. Renken, which he accepted. He was installed on February 10, 1974. In 1975, he accepted a call to Michigan. In the same year the voters of Our Redeemer decided to sell the parsonage on Grandview Ave. for $18,085.45.
On August 22, 1976, Pastor Walter Schindler was installed as the fourth Pastor of the congregation. Plans were already on there way for the construction of a new sanctuary, which would be dedicated on May 25, 1980. Pastor Schindler resigned his call in September 1982.
The congregation was vacant for almost one year when the Lord led Pastor Dennis Thompson to accept the call to become the fifth Pastor of Our Redeemer. During his tenure the preschool enrollment increased, a trend which continues to this day. Pastor Thompson accepted a call to Illinois in 1992, having served the congregation for nearly ten years. At that time the congregation numbered 389 souls and 283 communicants.
In June, 1993, Pastor Kristian G. Kincaid of Norfolk NE accepted the call to serve as the sixth Pastor of Our Redeemer. Church membership has increased dramatically during this time. In 1998 the mortgage for the sanctuary was burned. The congregation, then with 564 members and continuing to grow, began to look ahead to additional construction plans.
Plans for the growing congregation were formalized by the Voters Assembly to add a gathering area, new offices, a kitchenette, solarium, new restrooms, and new preschool rooms. Ground breaking took place in April, 2001. In June of that year, Rev. David Anderson, former Pastor of Our Redeemer, was installed as the Visitation Pastor for the congregation.
Under the guidance of our merciful Triune God, the building additions would be completed with an open house for the community. In November 2001, Sheila Rudat was installed as Director of Christian Education. Sheila accepted a call to Decatur, Illinois in August, 2005.
A joint venture with St. Paul Lutheran Church has resulted in the establishment of Dubuque Lutheran School. The school began in the fall of 2003, with six kindergarten and first grade students attending. Currently the school teaches students Kindergarten through fifth grade. The growth of Our Redeemer Preschool is also a blessing from God’s hand, as the Preschool currently offers five sections for three, four, and five year olds. The Preschool’s success served as the catalyst for establishing a Lutheran day school.
Early in 2006 the Voter’s extended a divine call for an Assistant Pastor from Fort Wayne Seminary. On July 15, 2006 Pastor Jesse Cearlock was ordained and installed as Assistant Pastor.
Today, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church is a vibrant congregation of more than 900 souls, with over 500 communicants. Above all, the congregation is a confessional and faithful Lutheran Church. As God’s children by grace, we reflect today upon His many blessings in this place. We are swift to acknowledge His goodness and mercy. We are bold to pray for His continued blessings. May the gracious Lord of the Church guide us in all our tomorrows. To God be the glory!