Our Saviour Lutheran Church was established in 1959 after a series of meetings of people from Evansville Lutheran congregations who desired to form a new congregation on what was then the far East side of Vanderburgh County. Property had been acquired from Mr. Fred Kuester by the Lutheran Mission Society of Greater Evansville. The property was located just off Burkhart Road on Madison Avenue.
On Sunday, February 1, 1959, the Mission Society called a meeting to start a concerted effort toward beginning work in this area. Those people interested in such a venture organized a working committee. On February 15, a general meeting was held at the Lawndale Auditorium to discuss forming the new congregation. At a subsequent meeting, on March 1, the name “Our Saviour” was chosen and the Articles of Incorporation were read and approved. Further meetings were held periodically at the homes of those who had decided to become members of the new congregation now known as “Our Saviour Lutheran Church.” At these meetings the Constitution was adopted and the first officers of the congregation were elected.
The first divine service was held on Sunday, February 7, 1960, in the Lawndale Auditorium. There were 46 in attendance. A Sunday School and Bible Class were organized the following month. The Rev. Edgar Rakow, Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Evansville, served Our Saviour until a permanent pastor arrived. Worship services continued to be held at Lawndale Auditorium until a church building could be built.
A call committee had been organized and worked with the call committee of the newly organized Westside mission congregation called “Messiah” to call a pastor jointly. It was agreed upon that Our Saviour would later be the home congregation of the pastor when the need for a second pastor arose. On February 19, 1960, a call was extended to the Rev. Darrel Geitz of Cheshire, Connecticut. Rev. Geitz accepted the call and was installed on June 5, 1960.
The congregation retained Architect Ralph Legeman to prepare plans for a sanctuary and education building. A plan was approved for a split level structure to be built at an estimated cost of $90,000. Ground was broken on Sunday, November 13, 1960. The cornerstone ceremony was held on Sunday, May 28, 1961. The completed church was dedicated on September 17, 1961.
Rev. Geitz served Our Saviour until February, 1967, at which time he left to serve a congregation in Seymour, Indiana. After a short vacancy, a call was accepted by Rev. Joel Vogel, who was installed on October 22, 1967.
From 1961 through 1973, Our Saviour grew from the original 88 charter members to 228 baptized members. In January of 1974, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church merged with Our Saviour, increasing the membership to over 300 souls.
During 1974, plans were developed for a new education annex. On September 8, 1974, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new addition were held. On September 7, 1975, the new annex was dedicated.
The theological turmoil that rocked the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the mid-1970s spilled over into the congregation in 1976. On September 20, 1976, a vote was taken at the regular voter’s meeting to decide whether to remain affiliated with the LC-MS. The vote was 51 for remaining and 37 for leaving. Because of the outcome of this decision, Rev. Vogel and many members left and formed a new congregation. It was a time of much pain and soul searching. Yet, the Lord is gracious and He had much more for Our Saviour Lutheran Church to do in His Kingdom.
The remaining members of Our Saviour–fewer than 100–were faced with monumental problems, not the least of which was nearly $100,000 in debt due to the recent expansion. Under the guidance of the Rev. Omar Rau, who served as vacancy Pastor, along with the Circuit Counselor, Rev. Kaul, and the District President, Rev. Elwood Zimmerman, Our Saviour struggled to regain its stability.
Following two short transitional pastorates (Rev. Wayne Renning in 1977 and Rev. Norman Franzen in 1978-79), the congregation once again became a mission congregation of the Indiana District and began to receive financial subsidies. While on mission status in 1979, the congregation was assigned Vicar Gregory Cynova from the Fort Wayne Seminary. Following his vicarage, Vicar Cynova was extended a call to serve as pastor of Our Saviour. He was ordained and installed on March 2, 1980.
Our Saviour was blessed with steady growth during the 1980’s. By November of 1987, the debt from the annex expansion was completely paid off. Unfortunately, in March of the following year, a serious structural problem was discovered in the sanctuary. The repairs led to a $150,000 renovation of the sanctuary, the main entrance, the fellowship hall, and the kitchen. During Rev. Cynova’s tenure, the congregation began a deaf ministry that continues to the present time.
In 1994, Rev. Cynova accepted a call to serve Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His last Sunday at Our Saviour was September 11, 1994. It was decided at a special voter’s meeting in February, 1995, to call a seminary graduate. A call was extended and accepted by Robert Wurst. He was ordained and installed on July 9, 1995. Our Saviour celebrated its 40th anniversary on April 18, 1999. In January of 2000 the remaining debt from the sanctuary renovation was paid off.
Near the end of 2001, Rev. Wurst accepted a call to serve St. Paul Lutheran Church in Cedar, Michigan. His last Sunday at Our Saviour was February 3, 2002. After a short vacancy, a call was extended to Rev. Robert Schneider, who was at that time serving a dual parish in Missouri. He accepted the call and was installed on August 18, 2002.
Our Saviour Lutheran Church celebrated 50 years of ministry on March 1, 2009. By God’s grace, and through the efforts of faithful pastors and dedicated members, Our Saviour has been and will continue to be a church that proclaims God’s true word of Law and Gospel, administers the sacraments, and carries out ministries in Evansville and beyond.