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FAITH’S GLORIOUS BEGINNING

In the spring of 1952, neighboring Lutheran pastors conducted a survey of Mentor. They discovered a considerable number of Lutherans living in the area and recognized the need to establish a Lutheran church.

The Mission Board applied for and received a graduate from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. The graduate, Robert M. Raabe, was ordained and commissioned as Missionary-atLarge on October 26, 1952 at Zion Lutheran Church in Painesville. On December 20, interested individuals met for the first time at Zion.

At first it was decided to build a chapel as a temporary place of worship until they could construct the first unit of their own church.

When the official organizational meeting of the church was held on February 2, 1953, Faith Lutheran Church was the name decided upon, and officers were elected.

The Board requested and received permission to worship temporarily in the Center Street School Auditorium. The first service was conducted there on February 22, 1953. Shore Haven Lutheran Church in Euclid loaned their portable altar, dorsal curtain and lectern. Of the 105 people who attended, 60 communicant members were on the roll.

Faith Lutheran Women’s Guild was organized on April 22, 1953, and the first officers were elected.

Faith’s first service was held at the Center Street School on February 22, 1953
Services and Sunday School were continued in the auditorium until December 20, 1953.

As the deficiencies of Center Street School became apparent, the Board learned that the beautiful historic site of the Jane Dodge Garfield estate was for sale. The estate included 9.23 acres in addition to two homes. A special meeting was called to discuss the possibility of purchasing the estate.

President Garfield’s home (Jane Dodge Garfield estate) – our neighbor to the west
It was agreed that the first floor of the 16 room Parish Hall could be converted into a church which could seat 140 parishioners, and the second floor could be used for Sunday School rooms. The smaller dwelling could be sold. On June 29, 1953, the Voter’s Assembly authorized the Trustees to purchase the estate for $40,000.

FAITH’S FIRST PERMANENT HOME

The Parish Hall has a unique history of its own. It is one of the oldest historical structures in the Western Reserve. It was built by Mr. Corning for his daughter in 1830, and upon his passing, his daughter sold it to President James Garfield in 1875.

It was during the remodeling of the chapel that the finest chapter in the history of Faith Lutheran Church was written. Cost of the renovation had to be covered by church members, and it was through the cooperation of many dedicated men and women who donated hundreds of hours of work to prepare such a fine facility for church activities, that this was accomplished.

The property was transferred to Faith Lutheran Church on October 15, 1953, and modification began immediately. Subsequently, the smaller residence was sold to Mr. Gerald Spencer for $19,000. Faith Lutheran Church retained about seven acres. The Mission Board loaned Faith Lutheran Church $20,000 and the members raised the $1,000 difference.

Wiring, plastering, plumbing, heating and painting were done by parishioners. Land Title Guarantee and Trust Company did not charge for the escrow and title work. Clyde Hadden surveyed the property free of charge. Lakeland Heating and Sheet Metal Co. donated material used for the chimney. Osborne donated the slag and concrete for the driveway entrance. The altar, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font and communion rail were gifts donated by Messiah Lutheran Church in Fairview Park. Christ Lutheran Church of Anderson, Indiana donated the organ. With combined cash donations added, the total cost of the renovation was $5,212.

The first service in the new church was held on December 20, 1953. The church was dedicated on January 17, 1954 at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. services. Rev. Edwin C. Abendroth and  Rev. Ottomar E. Bickel were the keynote speakers. Rev. Robert M. Raabe and Rev. W. C. Birkner were the liturgists. Shore Haven Youth Choir and the Senior Choir of Zion Lutheran Church, Painesville sang during the dedication service.

There were 101 communicant members at this time in our church history and the dedication service church bulletin noted:

“We know that every Pastor believes there is no finer church than the one in which God has placed him. This was especially true at Faith, Mentor. The endless hours of labor put in by our men and women in an effort to reduce the total cost of the building is awe-inspiring. Though in years to come these efforts may fade from memory, they will never be erased from the Lord’s Book.”

1956 saw the formation of the Walther League, Couple’s Club and Altar Guild. The first Vacation Bible School was also held. In August 1956, we relinquished our subsidy of $125 per month from Synod and became self-supporting.

In 1957, the parsonage was built by church members at a cost of $13,300 for Rev. Raabe and his family. A second Sunday worship service was added to accommodate the growth.

By January 1958, the communicant members grew to 252 and space once again became a major issue. The Women’s Guild purchased the building material and the men furnished the labor to convert the three-car garage into a Sunday School nursery room.

Rev. Raabe gave his farewell sermon on January 4, 1959 as he accepted a call to be a Chaplain and Home Missionary-at-Large. Rev. Mattson of St. Paul, Painesville became our temporary pastor. Rev. Victor Frederking was installed as our new pastor on April 19, 1959.

By January 1960, the communicant membership grew to 268 and the shortage of space again became a pressing issue. An enclosed porch was built in the fall, connecting the Sunday School nursery room to the sanctuary (with much of the labor donated). During that year, congregational meetings were held to begin planning for a new church.

FAITH IN THE 60’s

In August 1963 construction on the new $160,000 church building began.
Pastor Frederking resigned from the pastorate of our congregation in 1963 and on October 6,
1963, Rev. Richard Drews was installed as pastor. A dedication service of the new sanctuary with a seating capacity of 400 was held on May 10, 1964.

In February 1967, Pastor Drews accepted a call to California. In July 1967, Rev. Howard Davis was installed as the new pastor of Faith Lutheran Church.

FAITH IN THE 70’s

The 1974 confirmation class discovered that our sanctuary was built without a cornerstone. This was rectified on May 18, 1975 when we dedicated a cornerstone which was filled with memorabilia and dated documents.

FAITH IN THE 80’s

In 1980, we joined Our Shepherd Lutheran School and to this day support the school spiritually and financially.

In September 1984, our members gathered around a campfire on the church grounds and burned the mortgage.

With the resignation of Pastor Davis in 1987, the congregation called Pastor Ronald Le Pere, who was installed at Faith on March 6, 1988.

The LCMS disbanded the Walther League in the early 70’s and the Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) was formed. Youth from Faith became a part of LYF and attended a National Youth Gathering for the first time in Denver in 1989.

FAITH IN THE 90’s

In 1991, the congregation spent $130,000 for a new roof, heating and air conditioning system for the church and annex. During construction, worship service was held in the Parish Hall, bringing back memories from the 50’s.

To encourage fellowship and service projects among the younger youth, a Junior Youth Group for those in grades 5 – 8 was formed in the fall of 1996.

During 1998, the congregation adopted a missionary and his family, the McWilliams family in Guatemala, Central America. Tina Ziemnick was also called and installed as our Director of Christian Education.

Lutherans in Trappe, Pennsylvania and Mentor, Ohio had similar beginnings. Just as the Pennsylvania German settlers in the 1700’s yearned for a Lutheran church, Lutherans living in Mentor in the 1950’s also had a similar desire. The German settlers held their first service in a barn; Faith held theirs in a school auditorium. Both outgrew their temporary chapel and both used the God-given talents of their members to build a new sanctuary.

TODAY

God has blessed our congregation with a rich heritage, giving Faith a mission and a purpose.

“That all members be joined together in a common confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior”.

As members of His body, they seek to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus: to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world (Matt. 28:18-20); to be His witnesses where they live and work (Act 1:8); and to build up one another in faith and service within the congregation and within the community as they reach out to their neighbors (Eph. 4:11,12).

We have taken a walk through history – what about our future? What does the next millennium hold for “Faith”?

With God as our center, the Holy Spirit as our guide and the Great Commission as our direction, we take one day at a time – following where God leads.

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.- Psalms 95:1