Celebrating 50 Years of Faith Lutheran Church Members Reflect on Its Founding

By Murphy, Jean | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Celebrating 50 Years of Faith Lutheran Church Members Reflect on Its Founding


Murphy, Jean, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jean Murphy Daily Herald Correspondent

Members of Elk Grove's Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit have had much to celebrate in recent months.

Late last summer, after more than four years without a pastor, they welcomed the Rev. Tim Manwell to the church as its sixth pastor. Then, in December they began a yearlong celebration of the congregation's 50th anniversary, which will culminate in November.

Formerly pastor of a Lutheran church in Butler, Pa., in the western part of the state, Manwell said that while he was very impressed with the church and its members, he was also attracted to the position because of a key portion of the 50-year history that its members are proudly celebrating this year.

It was founded by one of the best-known and most respected American Lutheran theologians of today - Martin E. Marty, a divinity professor at the University of Chicago. Marty, now 80, has authored or co-authored more than 100 books and is frequently interviewed on television, so Manwell was thrilled by the opportunity to serve at the church Marty had founded.

The story of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit's founding is unlike most. After getting his graduate degree from the University of Chicago in 1955, Marty was commissioned by the English District of the Lutheran Church's Missouri Synod to be a missionary-at-large in the Northwest suburbs. He was told to gather enough people - somewhere - to start a church.

Marty immediately set off and visited homes throughout the region without much luck until he read a Paddock Publications story in 1956 about a new "ideal suburb" housing development about to be built by the Centex Corp. of Texas in Elk Grove Township.

Described as "a completely pre-planned, balanced community of homes, industry and commerce, churches, hospitals ... schools and libraries," the development sounded perfect to Marty. So he went to work to make sure that his church was the first one approved in the new town.

After much back and forth and promises of three different plots of land by Centex, ground 1,000 feet east of Arlington Heights Road on Elk Grove Boulevard was finally broken for the church in early December 1958.

Charles Edward Stade of Park Ridge was chosen as the architect for the church. Stade is best known for designing the Chapel of the Resurrection and many other buildings on the campus of Valparaiso University.

By the time ground was finally broken, the 160 charter members of the congregation had been meeting in Marty's parsonage and holding services at Rupley School for almost a year. But it would be more than another year before members could finally hold Sunday services in the new church. It was dedicated in June 1960.

And it was immediately too small to meet the growing congregation's needs. So Stade was hired to draw an education wing to be added to the church. Th wing was dedicated in January 1963.

Soon after this addition was complete, Marty took his leave of Elk Grove to return to the University of Chicago as a professor, where he would become a name synonymous with American Lutheranism.

But he never lost touch with the congregation he founded in his youth. In fact, according to Manwell, Marty plans to return in November to address the members and help them celebrate their 50th anniversary. …

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