Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lord of Life Lutheran Church Memories

I wonder how many people whiz by this building on Leavitt Road in their cars and know that it used to be a thriving Lutheran church on Lorain's west side – namely, Lord of Life Lutheran Church?

Not very many, most likely – except for those that used to attend services there, like me.

I mentioned last week how my family had switched to Lord of Life Lutheran Church from First Lutheran in Downtown Lorain. We'd moved in late 1965 to Skyline Drive, and heard that Lord of Life was starting up. It made sense to attend a church that was only a few minutes away. Several other families from First Lutheran thought so too, and made the change as well.

November 1967 Lorain Phone Book Listing
We had a hand in the church's beginnings. Mom remembers helping with painting walls before it opened. Dad was an usher. Mom sang in the choir. Like the other families, we took our turn cleaning the church and setting up the chairs for services. We attended potluck dinners. My sister went through catechism and was confirmed there.

It was a nice time in our life that I think about once in a while. It was also probably the last time I polished my shoes regularly (on Saturday night, while watching reruns of Maverick and Wild, Wild West).

I have to confess (which is appropriate in view of the subject manner) that I was very often distracted during church services. I used to look around and imagine what I would do if "bad guys" (usually gangsters) were chasing me around the church trying to get me. Where would I hide? Where could I climb to get away from them? I used to mentally plan my escape from these baddies, and my imaginary route around the altar was not unlike that of Billy's dotted line meanderings in the Family Circus comic.

My family eventually planned its own escape from Lord of Life. Tired of the unpleasant but necessary emphasis by church officials on money, money, money, my parents decided that they'd had enough. So they explained to my siblings and me that we weren't going to go to church any more.

Part of the problem was that it was hard to get used to the newness and bare-bones nature of Lord of Life's spartan surroundings, especially the cold, uncomfortable metal folding chairs. It just didn't compare to the rich heritage and beauty of First Lutheran Church – where both my parents attended services as kids, where they got married, and where all of us were baptized.

Anyway, an anniversary associated with Lord of Life occurred a few days ago – the 48th anniversary of its very first worship service. Here's the scoop, as it appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram of February 25, 1967.

New Church at Lorain to have first service

LORAIN – The first worship service of Lord of Life Lutheran Church will be conducted at 10 a.m. tomorrow, according to the Rev. Dennis Dickman, pastor.

The church, located on Leavitt Rd. at the future intersection of Tower Blvd., is being established by the American Lutheran Church, according to the Rev. Mr. Dickman.

Tomorrow's service will climax two months of preliminary work by Mr. Dickman home mission parish worker.

Organizational work has been under the guidance of a steering committee consisting of William Knoske, Edward Brady, Thomas Hoffman, David Snively and Harold Kunkel, all local residents.

They will serve as ushers. Music will be provided by the choir of Zion Lutheran Church in Huron.

Dedication of the church is scheduled for March 19 with formal organization of the congregation slated for late May.

Lord of Life Lutheran Church lasted until the end of the 1980s. Its last listing in the city directory was 1989, and the address went vacant in the following year's edition.

By the time of the 1992 directory, the church building was once again in business helping to do God's work – serving as the Chapel and Youth Center for the Church on the North Coast nearby. It remains part of the Church on the North Coast campus today.

The former Lord of Life Lutheran Church property at 4415 N. Leavitt Road is going to be the home of three new retail establishments, according to this story in the Morning Journal.

October 2016 photo


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the church I attended for many years of Sunday school. First Church of Christ Scientists at Meister and Leavitt. Earlier they met in the old City Hall Bldg on W Erie. I too was distracted during SS longing to ride my bike and watch Popeye. My friend attended the Church of the Nazarene around the corner on Leavitt. Quite a few churches and synagogue in the area. Rae

Dan Brady said...

As a kid whenever I saw that church sign at Meister and Leavitt with the "Scientists" name, I thought of lab-coated eggheads with Pyrex beakers and bunsen burners! It was and is a really attractive A-frame church in a nice setting.

Funny you mentioned Popeye, when we quit Lord of Life, Barnaby and his made-behind-the-Iron Curtain Popeye cartoons became part of our Sunday morning routine.