Christ the King Lutheran Church in Memphis, TN, celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this fall. As a church plant in 1959, CTK was the beneficiary of significant encouragement and donations of time and talent from its sister congregations and their pastors.
The Church Plant
In September of 1958, the Mission Board of the Western District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod explored the possibility of forming a mission church in the eastern area of the expanding city of Memphis. Under the auspices of the Lutheran Activities Council, an organizational meeting of the new South-East Memphis Mission was attended by 30 people, as well as several area Lutheran pastors who provided their support and encouragement, including Rev. Leo Symmank of Holy Cross, Rev. Paul Martens of Trinity, Rev. Paul Schmidt of Redeemer, and Rev. Everett Grese of Immanuel. Wednesday evening services began soon after in a local bank building, with Rev. Symmank serving as supply pastor. Several months later, a “lovely 7-acre tract of land out on Park Avenue,” complete with two small houses, was purchased by the Mission Board for around $40,000. Charter members recall the entrance to the property was just a small dirt driveway covered with overhanging branches of trees on both sides, with the houses set far back from the road. It was dubbed “The Church in the Wildwood” by its members, with its parklike surrounding and almost unlimited space for children to explore and play.
Local Lutheran churches and their members loaned the mission appropriate altar paraments and donated hymnals as well as rented a small portable organ for its use. A total of 37 people attended the first Sunday morning worship in the two-room house on the day after purchase in December of 1958. A year later, as the mission grew, they connected another small house on the property to the original one, providing additional meeting rooms. A mission pastor, Rev. Carl Schrader, was called in April of 1959, and installed as full-time Pastor of Christ the King in July of that year. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the encouragement and support of area Lutherans, and with eager, enthusiastic, innovative outreach and evangelism efforts, this mission plant in southeast Memphis celebrated its Charter Sunday, with 60 members signing the Charter, on Sunday, June 21, 1959.
60th Anniversary – September 15 Celebration
This fall, Christ the King will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a special Sunday service at 10AM on Sept. 15, followed by a catered lunch and a look back at six decades of serving the Memphis community and beyond, giving thanks to our gracious God for His providing us faithful undershepherds (Reverends Schrader, Bruce Zagel, Jeff Stephens, Chuck Neugebauer, and Mark Goble), and guiding us through years of mission and ministry, construction and renovations, and expanding our reach to the farthest corners of the world. We invite our members and friends to join us on September 15, and celebrate with us our sixtieth year of having been “planted” here and now to do the Lord’s work. Contact Genie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our anniversary celebration.
By Genie Swan