There is only one thing that truly matters to the history of a church: whether that church has served to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We can build the most beautiful of sanctuaries, and those sanctuaries can burst at the seams with people, but it will mean nothing unless we glorify God.
Have we, Our Savior Lutheran Church, served God’s Kingdom and thereby glorified Christ’s Holy Name? That is the only question worth asking.
Lest it appear to the human heart that we are boasting of our accomplishments, let us hasten to assert that, to the pastors, teachers, organizations, and members, go only the credit of earthly determination to do the things ‘pleasing unto God’ which He had given them power to do. Without His first installing in the hearts of His people the will to obey, none of these things would have been here written.
Mrs. Roy Ernest Bamsch, writing the 15-year history of Our Savior Lutheran Church:
It could not be stated better. As you read this brief history and view the pictures from times past that follow remember what we must never forget: the true history of Our Savior Lutheran Church, is a litany of blessing after blessing bestowed on our little church without end by Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
On September 17th, 1944, the voting assembly of Immanuel Lutheran Church passed a resolution that authorized the sponsoring of a Lutheran mission in the Garden Oaks Community. A Missions Committee consisting of the Rev. Elmo E. Miertschin, Pastor of Immanuel, Wm. Bauerkemper, Fred H. Look, Fred Dietrich, W.M. Bauerkemper, and Leon Orts, was immediately called into being. The committee was to begin work at once, for the "King’s business demands haste." In 1944, Garden Oaks was a new "suburb" of the rapidly growing city of Houston, and this new mission church was needed to serve the spiritual needs of this new community.
"Haste" is the proper word to describe what happened after that evening. In November of 1944, a 100 x 375 feet tract of land was purchased in the heavily wooded 4400 block of North Shepherd Drive. The groundbreaking took place on March 16th, 1945, and construction of the "churchly chapel" began three days later. Though construction of the chapel proceeded rapidly, the Missions Committee knew that a sanctuary without a congregation was just an empty shell. To publicize the Garden Oaks mission church, mission services were held at the construction site under a tent for five consecutive evenings between June 4 to 8. As the advertisement shows, "gospel sermons" were delivered by a number of clergymen including Pastors Elmo E. Miertschin and Walter H. Huber. The Immanuel Church Choir sang each evening and religious "sound pictures" were shown. Over the course of the five evening services, nearly 1000 people attended the services.
The "churchly chapel" was dedicated the following Sunday afternoon, June 10, 1945 less than nine months after the voters of Immanuel had resolved to create the Garden Oaks Mission chapel. Pastor Miertschin delivered the dedication sermon that afternoon, entitled "Glory to God in the Highest," to an assembly of 355. On July 8, 1945, the voters called Reverend Walter H. Huber, a graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, to become the first Pastor of the new mission church. Finally, the name OUR SAVIOR EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH was chosen for the new church. At that point in time, the new congregation numbered "64 souls, 43 communicants, and 12 voters."
During the January 6, 1946 voter’s assembly, "The resolution was unanimously passed that ‘Our Savior open a Christian Day School in September, 1946." We might call this move mildly ambitious given that at the time of the meeting, Our Savior had no school building or teachers. Nevertheless, by September 1946, Our Savior had opened a Christian Day School to teach children the way of salvation and build character for Christian living.
Through the 1950s, the Lord continued to bless Our Savior in countless ways. In September 1950, Pastor Huber was called to the Chaplaincy of the United States Air Force during the Korean War. During this vacancy, vicar Kenneth Stengel served until the Reverend Allan Schuldheiss in 1952. Pastor Schuldheiss faithfully served as shepherd to this flock until 1955 when the Reverend W.A. Gerdes was called to be Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran.
With the dawn of the 1960s, Our Savior Lutheran had outgrown the "churchly chapel" that had been our sanctuary of worship for fifteen years. A new sanctuary was needed and God saw fit to provide one. On November 27, 1960 a new A-frame style sanctuary was dedicated that would serve as our place of worship for thirty-five years. A modern design, the sanctuary was very different from the traditional white frame chapel the church had occupied.
Change in Location Did Not Shake OSL's Firm Fountation on God's Word
Despite this change in scenery, Our Savior Lutheran remained the same, standing firm on the foundation of God’s Word and receiving the abundance of blessings He poured out on us each year. Our Savior’s school also continued to grow reaching beyond the confines of the church to minister to children who had never heard the gospel of Christ. On October 24, 1971, the church dedicated a new Education and Fellowship Building to meet the growing needs of the school ministry.
In 1966, Pastor Gerdes retired after eleven years of faithful ministry and service to Christ and His Church. Reverend John P. Schulz was called to be Pastor of Our Savior.
Despite the conflict that characterized the Missouri Synod in 1970s, Our Savior Lutheran continued to thrive upon God’s blessings and remained true to His Word and Luther’s doctrine. Jesus remained Lord at Our Savior and His Word continued to be cherished by its members.
In 1980, Our Savior was on the threshold of entering its fourth decade of being showered with blessings by our Heavenly Creator. After serving as Pastor of Our Savior for fourteen years, Pastor Schultz accepted a call to another congregation in Knoxville, Tennessee and Our Savior called our current Pastor, Reverence Laurence L. White from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to succeed Pastor Schultz. Throughout our history, God has blessed Our Savior with pastors faithful to His Word and committed to His Church. Pastor White was no exception.
The last twenty years of Our Savior’s history has, perhaps, rivaled its first twenty years in excitement and blessings from God. In 1992, the Lord placed another tremendous opportunity before Our Savior. In a congregational meeting in 1992, by unanimous vote, and upon the motion of the first chairman of this congregation, Our Savior moved to purchase a 46+ acre tract of land on West Tidwell between T.C. Jester and Antoine. It was the answer of countless prayers.
In 1997, the school opened its doors at the Tidwell location for the first time. For the first time, Our Savior’s athletic teams no longer had to borrow another school’s soccer field or baseball field to conduct practice or hold a game. However, for the first three years of Our Savior’s existence at the Tidwell site, it had no permanent sanctuary. Instead, as the Israelites had done in the wilderness, Our Savior made its house of God where it could, in the school cafeteria, while the debt incurred to build the school was paid off and plans were completed for the new sanctuary to be constructed.
Even before moving to the Tidwell location, extensive research had been conducted to design a sanctuary that would not only suit Our Savior’s worship needs, but also be a living witness to the glory and majesty of God and the Lutheran theology. Thus, plans were drawn up to build, not a modern auditorium or an entertainment complex, but a house of God. A place, when upon entering, one might exclaim, "Surely, this is none other than the house of God!" On June 25, 2000, Our Savior gathered to dedicate this new sanctuary, to praise God for the blessings that he has bestowed upon us, and to begin anew.
The completion of Our Savior’s sanctuary does not signal the end of our church’s move forward faithfully with Christ. There is no ending to the Lord’s blessings because his love endures forever. As a new millenium begins, let us take comfort in this never-ending stream of blessings. The modern Church seems to be a fearful lot in these times. We are afraid to confess God’s Word boldly and confidently without compromise and with conviction. Indeed, for the most part, the Church has responded as Peter did in the Temple courtyard when accused of being a follower of Jesus: "I tell you! I do not know the man!"
Have we forgotten the blessings that He has given us in past? In 1946, Our Savior Lutheran Church committed to confessing God’s Word as truth regardless of the consequences. In 2000 A.D., Our Savior is still committed to confessing God’s Word as truth regardless of the consequences.
The history of Our Savior is simply a record of the blessings God has poured out upon our church as a result. Without His first installing in the hearts of His people the will to obey, none of these things would have been here written." Amen.