History of the Rice Village Campus

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.

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.”

The Original Rice village Nave

The original nave was built of Texas limestone in 1949 by the construction company owned by charter member Severin Knuteson.  Severin personally selected the each panel for the nave to ensure there were no knots in the wood.  In 1972 a pipe organ replaced the electronic one and the seating was rearranged so that the communion table was in the center of the nave.

The Current Rice Village Nave

By the early 1980s our congregation had outgrown the original nave and the early success of the Bach Society concerts indicated that an appropriate venue was important for that program.

The congregation was clear throughout the process of fund raising and approving design ideas that the new nave would continue in the style of the old nave, not only from an external perspective of similar stone and  architectural detail.

Award winning Houston architect, Charles Tapley, was selected to design the building.  Howard Pieper, a long time member of the congregation, served as a consultant to the project. W.J. Hessert Construction Company was the contractor.

We moved into the new nave in 1982.

From the Archives: 70 Years of Christ the King Lutheran Church (2015)

A video from our archives created by church member Lucky Sahualla for a celebration of 70 years of CTK

Christ the King Rice Village Timeline

Change is constant in the life of a congregation. Here we remember the people and events that have shaped us today:

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

October 1955:
a new educational building was dedicated

1972: Replacement of the electronic organ with a Rieger pipe organ and the rearrangement of the nave so that the altar was in the center

1976: The congregation was home to a number of vicars during a year of their seminary training

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

1983: Pastor Linda Leinen was called as associate pastor

1986: Dedication of the 80-foot-high bell tower with 3 large bells

1987: In January, Pastor Linda Leinen was succeeded by Pastor Frederick G. Haman, Jr.

1994: Pastor Robert Moore joined the staff as associate pastor in January

1995: Dedication of the current Noack pipe organ (Both the Bach Society and the organ continue to attract artists from around the world)

1999: Pastor Frederick G. Haman, Jr., retired in June

1999: Pastor Robert Moore became senior pastor in January

1999: Pastor Beth Warpmaeker began serving in May

1999: Beginning of the Taizé services on Saturday evenings

2000: Pastor Allison Denise Werner Hoenen served from October 2000 until August 2002

2002: Pastor Karin Liebster was called as associate pastor in September

Dedication of the four-story education/administration wing and other renovations and enhancements to the property

2003: Pastor Beth Warpmaeker concluded her call in October

2004: Pastor Kathryn M. Haueisen served from August 2004 until December 2007

2007: Pastor Bradley Scott Fuerst began his work with Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry in July until February 2016.

2014: Deacon Rick Erickson, Cantor, and Deacon Ben Remmert, Director of Youth and Family Ministry are installed to serve at Christ the King Church on August 10.

2016: Dedication of the Columbarium

2016: Pastor Moore accepted a call with ELCA Global Mission to Leipzig in the summer

2016: Pastor Duane Larson joins the staff as interim senior pastor in July

2017: Pastor Duane Larson accepted the call of senior pastor in July

2019: Sergio Rodriguez, then a Seminarian at Wartburg Theological Seminary, joined Christ the King as a vicar for his pastoral internship. 

2020-2021: The congregation, with the help of (then) Council President Andy Winsett, Deacon Beth Hartfiel, and under the direction of new member Rachel McWhirter, installed PTZ cameras to livestream worship. This kept the congregation together during the lockdown and throughout the COVID pandemic.

2021: Deacon Beth Hartfiel is called to serve as Church Administrator on January 31.

2021: Rachel McWhirter is officially brought on to staff as Director of Digital Ministry.

2021: The congregation celebrated Pastor Duane Larson's retirement on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.

2021: Carole and Amandus (Mandy) Derr moved to their new home in Spring, Texas from New York on July 30 and joined Christ the King two weeks later. Mandy then left retirement to become our interim senior pastor.

2021: Ben Kerswell is made our new music associate under the direction of Cantor Rick Erickson.

2021: The congregation celebrated Pastor Karin Liebster’s Ministry and the conclusion of her call with a reception on August 1.

2021: Sergio Rodriguez is ordained and installed as Pastor of Community Ministry on September 19 at Christ the King. Watch his ordination and installation below.

2022: We officially merged our congregation with that of (formally) Memorial Drive Lutheran Church. This merger created Christ the King West Campus.

2022: Deacon Rick Erickson concludes his call as Cantor on December 4. Watch his conclusion of a call here.

2022: Ben Kerswell is installed as Cantor on February 19. Watch his installation below.

2023: Rev. Dr. Jennifer Hope-Tringali is installed as the 8th Senior Pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church on October 14, her 50th birthday! Watch her installation below.

History of Christ the King Memorial

Formally Memorial Drive Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas

1958: Four acres of land at the corner of Memorial Drive and Gessner in October 1958.  The Department of American Missions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church paid approximately $40,000 for the site and a home on Kilts Drive that would serve as the parsonage.

1959: Memorial Drive Lutheran Church was established in 1959

1959: The building that is now the Fellowship Hall was constructed in March and served as the first worship center.  

1959: Pastor Jack Lein arrived with his family in April, and on June 14, 1959, the first worship service was held with 76 people in attendance.

1960: Memorial Drive Lutheran Church was officially organized as a member congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) on April 3.

A Look at the Memorial Campus Legacy

CTK Memorial was Formally Memorial Drive Lutheran Church (MDLC)

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In 1952, Pastor Larson wrote:

“When once we put our hands to the plow, there is no room left for idly gazing backward. 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.


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CTK is a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Community