About Us - History
The first service of the new Evangelical Lutheran
mission church was held on Sunday, September 9, 1951, at the YMCA located at First and
Oliver. On September 8, 1996, almost 45 years later to the day, the new church building at
13th and Broadmoor was dedicated. The years between have been filled with 45 years of
worshipping and praising God.
The first congregational meeting was held on January 23, 1952, with the presentation of the charter from the state of Kansas. The name of the new church was the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation. The first service under this charter was held on January 27, 1952. At this service 56 confirmed adults and 19 children became the first members of the new church. Land for a new church at Mission Road and Kellogg was purchased for $21,000 on August 1, 1952. By the fall of 1953 attendance had increased so much that we had outgrown the YMCA building and were now meeting at Curtis Junior High School. In 1954 Henry Schirmer, architect and charter member, submitted plans for a new building to the Board of American Missions. The original plans were rejected as being too contemporary and were revised. The cost was estimated at $90,000 for the building, land, and equipment, and the ground-breaking ceremony was held on February 20, 1955. In September 1955, 297 people attended the first service in the new building.
(Click on the picture for an enlargement)
The church commissioned Bernard Frazier to design a sculpture for the west wall of the church. A noted sculptor from Tulsa, Oklahoma, he has done the bronze bear statue at the Colorado State Capitol and the inscribed doors on the University of Kansas war memorial. Mr. Frazier designed a sculpture which depicts up-raised hands toward a cross, pointing the way through the cross of Jesus towards God and eternal life. This was cast on the ground and filled with thirty tons of concrete, and then hoisted into an upright position. Mr. Frazier also made and donated twelve plaques in the original church narthex depicting the following twelve elements:
- The Father (the hand of God, the Creator)
- The Son (a sacrificial lamb)
- The Holy Spirit (the Pentecostal seven flames)
- The Word of God (an open Bible)
- Holy Communion (grapes and wheat, which represent the wine and bread)
- Holy Baptism (the descending dove)
- Matthew, the winged man
- Mark, the winged lion
- Luke, the winged ox
- John, the eagle
- Luther's coat of arms
- World Council of Churches.
In 1957 a small house adjacent to the church was
purchased for use for the Sunday School and nursery. The organist of our church at this
time was Diane Bish, a student at Wichita East High School. She is now a world famous
organist with her own television show entitled "The Joy of Music." She returned
to our church to play at the dedication of a new Rogers augmented organ on November 18,
Attendance increased steadily through the early sixties until the congregation had outgrown the original sanctuary. Construction of a new sanctuary began in March of 1958, with the new sanctuary located adjacent to the old sanctuary. This construction phase also created a new sacristy, library, workspace, office and some additional classrooms. The new sanctuary was dedicated on October 6, 1968, and the old sanctuary became the fellowship hall.
In 1990 after meetings with city engineers, it became
apparent that the planned expansion of Kellogg would go right through our altar, and we
would be forced to relocate. At that time it was expected that the expansion would happen
sometime in the 1997-2000 time frame. The church then began the long drawn out process in
selecting a new site for the church. By 1992 it became less clear if the long-awaited
Kellogg expansion would ever happen, but there were other factors leading to the
relocation. The average weekly worship attendance had increased from 214 in 1987 to 309 in
1992, a 44% increase, and Sunday School attendance had increased from 67 to 109. The
current facilities, especially the classrooms, were very small and this was really
impeding further growth. The sanctuary capacity was 275, the fellowship hall capacity was
100, and the parking lot capacity was 30. So on December 6, 1992, the congregation
approved the purchase of 4.75 acres at 13th and Broadmoor. The harder decision came in May
of 1994 when the congregation made the decision to sell the property at Mission and
The last service at the Mission and Kellogg church was July 31, 1994(?) and we began holding worship services at Curtis Junior High School, once again. And so began our "wandering in the wilderness" period. We worshipped for three months at Curtis, and then 12 months at John Knox Presbyterian Church, and then 11 months at University Baptist Church. At both churches we shared the facilities with the host church. The ground breaking for the new church was held on March 19, 1995, and on September 8, 1996, the new building was dedicated with 607 people in attendance.
Pastors at Reformation Lutheran
Rev. Richard Scherch 2/1952-8/1953. Pastor Scherch and his wife
Janice came to Wichita in the summer of as 1951 to develop a mission church. He served as
the first Pastor and served until the summer of 1953 when he accepted a call to Trinity
Lutheran Church in Manhattan Beach, California.
Rev. Eugene Smith 10/1953-1/1956. Pastor Smith and his wife June and son Elliott came to Reformation on October 4, 1953 from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Glasco, Kansas. He supervised the move from the YMCA to Curtis Junior High School and gave children's sermons as a part of the regular worship. He reorganized the choir, and he sang in the choir for special contatas. He served as chairman of the Lutheran Refugee Committee. He resigned on January 29, 1956 to establish a mission church in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
Rev. Joseph Peaslee 7/1956-2/1958. Pastor Peaslee came to our church from Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Pastor Peaslee organized "fishing parties" which brought in 47 new members in one month. It was during this time that we began to have two services, because of the growth in membership. An inspiring preacher, he once celebrated Reformation Sunday by wearing vestments identical to Martin Luther's and delivered one of Luther's sermons. Pastor Peaslee, his wife Charlotte, and their two children, Michael and Carol, left in 1958 for Olivet Lutheran Church in Sylvania, Ohio.
Rev. Robert Karsten 2/1958-10/1958. Pastor Karsten was a son of charter members of our congregation and he served as an interim pastor until Pastor Utz was installed.
Rev. Lester Utz 10/1958-10/1961. Pastor Utz, his wife Pearl, and children Paul, Catherine Ann, and Mary, came to Reformation from Emmanuel (or Immanuel?) Lutheran Church in Bellevue, Pennsylvania. He was installed on November 30, 1958. He also served as president of the Southwest Conference of the Synod, was on the executive committee of ULCM, and was in charge of the Family Camp at WaShunGa. Pastor Utz left on October 8, 1961 and accepted a call at St. Mark's in Van Wert, Ohio.
Rev. Jack Davies 5/1962-7/1969. Pastor Davies began at Reformation on May 13, 1962, following his ordination from Central Theological Seminary in Fremont, Nebraska. The three-year catechism began at this time and pastor gave a lot of attention to the youth. He and his wife Ardyce, and children Kenneth, Timothy, and Kathleen moved to Kansas City in 1969 to become coordinator of the Kansas City Lutheran Ministry.
Rev. Ronald Stanley 3/1970-8/1975. Pastor Stanley along with wife Charlotte and daughter Marilyn came to Reformation from Mount Zion Lutheran in Hudson, Wisconsin. Their second daughter was born in 1974. He was the first pastor to sing the liturgy at church services and also sang with the choir on several occasions. He left in 1975 to serve Faith Lutheran Church in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin.
Rev. Dr. Ronald MacLennan 1/1976-8/1980. Pastor MacLennon, his wife Marcia, and daughter Heather came to Reformation from St. Mark`s Lutheran in Atchison, Kansas. He began at Reformation on February 1, 1976. Their second daughter, Hillary, was born in 1977. He began the new tradition of the Paschal meal during Lenten season. He left to pursue further studies at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He has since returned to Kansas where he is a professor at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Rev. Earl Wall 5/1981-6/1988. Pastor Wall, his wife Ida Mae, and children Carolee and Ron came to Reformation from Hays, Kansas. He began serving on April 16, 1981 and retired from active ministry on June 30, 1988.
Rev. Joel Schmalz 7/1988-8/1995. Pastor Schmalz along with wife Trudy and sons David and Mark came to Reformation from Jefferson City, Missouri. He began serving on July 17, 1988. He also sang with the choir on several occasions and would also occasionally play the trombone at services. Trudy served as organist and choir director for six years. Pastor Schmalz left in August, 1995 to accept a call to Zion Lutheran in Duluth, Minnesota.
Rev. Tamara Kloos. 2/1990-3/1992. Pastor Kloos came from Brewster, Kansas and became an assistant pastor on February 25, 1990. She resigned her pastorate in March, 1992 due to health reasons.
Rev. Dr. Gerald Mansholt 11/1995-8/2001. Pastor Mansholt, his wife Anita and daughter Monica came to Reformation from Florissant, Missouri. He began at Reformation on Reformation Sunday, 1995. They have two daughters. He left to become Bishop of the Central States Synod.
Rev. Dr. Thomas Halstrom 10/2002-10/2007. Pastor Halstrom and his wife Marlene came to Reformation from Lincoln, Nebraska. He began at Reformation on Reformation Sunday, 2002. They have two daughters, Betsy and Erin.
Rev. Kristin Woelk. 9/2007-present. Pastor Woelk is from Beloit, Wisconsin.
Rev. Lowell Michelson. 2008-2014. Pastor Michelson and his wife Tera have three children.