History of Christ the King Church

Video of Seventy Years of History of Christ the King Lutheran Church
presented by members of the congregation.

In the fall of 1944 the Board of American Mission of the Augustana Lutheran Church decided to establish a new mission church in the southwest section of Houston.  Property was purchased the following summer at what some people then considered an unlikely area for development:  the corner of Rice Boulevard and Greenbriar.  Until a building could be erected services were held in nearby Roberts Elementary School.  Nine people attended the first service on Sunday, June 24, 1945.  Small, but intensely faithful, energetic and committed, this group of people was determined to make their church successful.  They enthusiastically made the church a central part of their life, assuming multiple responsibilities and never losing sight of their goal.  And they loved to sing, especially preferring the classical music—Bach, Beethoven, Mozart.

Within the year Pastor Kenneth Larson of Minnesota accepted the call to serve Christ the King Lutheran Church, and he preached his first sermon on December 2, 1945.  Pastor Larson shared the enthusiasm of his young congregation.  By June 1946 membership had grown to 46. Sunday School had been organized for children as well as adults. There were numerous committees and activities for all ages.  A building program was undertaken, and the first service was held in Christ the King Church’s new building on Sunday, June 26, 1949 with over 100 people in attendance.  From the very beginning the liturgy and sacred music were an essential part of the church, and in November 1949 a church choir was officially organized.  Within a couple of years, under the leadership of its first director, Helen Martinson, and accompanied by the church’s organist, Andy Anderson, the focus became the music of the great composers who composed for the liturgical setting. Thus began what was to become Christ the King Church’s reputation as “The Music Church.”

In  May 1953 Pastor Larson left to accept a new call. He was succeeded over the next 15 years by Pastors P.O. Bersell, Earl M. Bengtson, George C. Benson, and Marlo Petersen.  In October 1955, a new educational building was dedicated.  In September 1968 Pastor Edwin D. Peterman began a 30 year ministry as senior pastor.  Under his direction, the church grew and changed by leaps and bounds.  Beginning in the fall of 1976 the congregation was home to a number of vicars during a year of their seminary training. In 1983 the church called Pastor Linda Leinen as associate pastor. She was succeeded in January 1987 by Pastor Frederick G. Haman, Jr., who retired in June 1995.  Pastor Robert Moore joined the staff as associate pastor in January 1994, and subsequently became senior pastor in January 1999 when Pastor Peterman retired.  Pastor Beth Warpmaeker served from May 1999 until October 2003; Pastor Allison Denise Werner Hoenen from October 2000 until August 2002; and Pastor Kathryn M. Haueisen from August 2004 until December 2007. Pastor Karin Liebster joined the staff as associate pastor in September 2002. Pastor Bradley Scott Fuerst began his work with Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry in July 2007. He spends part of his time in service to Christ the King, Over the years many changes have been instituted. Some of the highpoints include:

  • 1972: Replacement of  the electronic organ by a Rieger pipe organ and the rearrangement of the nave so that the altar was in the center
  • 1982: Dedication of the current nave (The original 1949 nave was renovated to be the parish hall, thus preserving a precious part of the history of the church.)
  • 1982: Founding of the Bach Society in collaboration with the University of Houston Music Department under the direction of Robert Lynn
  • 1986: Dedication of the 80-foot high bell tower with 3 large bells
  • 1987: Formation of AIDS Respite Team and Task Force in response to the needs of a beloved member (This organization became a model for similar groups formed around the country. It evolved into the current Congregational Care Team.)
  • 1995: Dedication of the current Noack pipe organ (Both the Bach Society and the organ continue to attract artists from around the world.)
  • 1999: Beginning of the Taizé services on Saturday evenings
  • 2003: Dedication of the four-story education/administration wing and other renovations and enhancements to the property.

In 1952, Pastor Larson wrote:  “When once we put our hands to the plow, there is no room left for idly gazing backwards.  Forward we move with God!”   Today Christ the King Church provides not only a place to worship, but abundant opportunities to participate in the areas of music, service, education, and fellowship.