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 Fred Kuester by the Lutheran Mission Society of Greater Evansville. The property was located just off Burkhardt 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 those 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 1975, 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 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.
The remaining members of Our Saviour were fewer than 100 and 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 1980s. 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. Many younger members of the congregation felt that the congregation should relocate. Others felt that the existing facility should be repaired. A special committee was formed to consider these options. The committee made a recommendation to tear down the existing building and rebuild, at a cost of approximately $3,000,000. This recommendation was voted down and, as a consequence, many of the young families left the congregation. The remaining members decided to repair and renovate the sanctuary, and also to renovate the main entrance, the fellowship hall, and the kitchen for a total cost of roughly $150,000. This renovation was completed in 1989.
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 to and accepted by Rev. 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.
The church’s website (www.oursaviourevansville.org) first came online in June of 2001.
Near the end of 2001, Rev. Robert 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 the time serving a dual parish in Missouri. He accepted the call and was installed on August 18, 2002.
Our Saviour celebrated 50 years of ministry on March 1, 2009 and 60 years on March 3, 2019. On December 31, 2022, Pastor Schneider retired after serving Our Saviour for 19 years.
After a 6 month vacancy, Rev. Timothy Benzinger received a call to Our Saviour on April 27, 2022. He was ordained and installed on June 26, 2022.
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.
Our Saviour Lutheran Church is a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, a church body of over 2.6 million members nationwide. Known all over the world for its thoroughly Biblical theology and heart for missions, the Missouri Synod has missionaries in over 40 countries. It also has the largest Protestant parochial school system in America, with nearly 1,600 elementary schools, over 60 high schools, 11 colleges and universities, and two seminaries. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod stands firmly on the Holy Scriptures as its only source and standard for teaching and preaching.
We believe, teach, and confess…
There is only one true and living God revealed in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (St. Matthew 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14).
Ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin, God’s Word says that all human beings have been conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5). We are completely unable to save ourselves and are fully in need of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ (St. John 8:34-36).
Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God the Father, was born completely human while at the same time remaining completely divine (St John 1:14). He suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried in order to be the sacrifice not only for the sin we are born with, but also for all the sins we do with thought, word, and deed (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus rose bodily from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven where He reigns over the Church and the whole world. Jesus is the central figure of the Bible, God’s Word. The Bible is therefore completely trustworthy, reliable, and without error (2 Timothy 3:16).
The “Gospel” or “Good News” is that we cannot earn our forgiveness (righteousness) in God’s eyes by anything we do or say. It is only by faith that we can receive God’s forgiveness and be made righteous before Him as a free gift (Romans 3:21-26). God freely gives His forgiveness when He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can believe that all our sins really are forgiven for Jesus’ sake (St. John 16:13).
THE HOLY MINISTRY
In order to create saving faith in Jesus Christ, God has established the Office of the Holy Ministry (St. John 20:19-23). He has provided for men to preach the Gospel and give out His sacraments (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Through His word and Sacraments God promises to give His Holy Spirit who creates and sustains saving faith in those who hear and believe (St. John 3:8).
Saving faith in Jesus Christ produces good works. Like a vine produces good fruit (St. John 15:1-8). The Christian does good works to benefit his neighbor. They are done out of thanksgiving for salvation received, not as a way to earn forgiveness of favor in God’s eyes (St. Luke 1711-19).
THE HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Holy Christian Church is the assembly of all people everywhere and from every age who have been gathered around God’s Word and Sacraments, who have heard the Gospel, and have believed in Jesus Christ as their only Savior from sin (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Jesus instituted Holy Baptism for “all nations” (St. Matthew 28:19). Therefore, infants are to be baptized to receive the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins (St. Luke 18:16-17). Jesus has also instituted Holy Communion, where He gives us His crucified and risen body and blood with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Jesus also instituted Holy Absolution, where God’s words of forgiveness and comfort are spoken by pastors in the stead and in behalf of Christ Himself (St. John 20:23, St. Luke 10:16).