Lord of Life Celebrates 50 Years of Community: 1970-2020


The Story of Lord of Life

1968 –The beginning. No LCA church between Loop 610 and Dallas going north. Mission Board buys land for new mission north of 1960.

1969 – First service Sep 6, 1969 in Tamina Hall Hanna Rd, and other rented space in the area, including Timber Ridge Presbyterian. First wedding at LOL Gifton Underwood and Marilyn Suderman Aug 21, 1969. (See picture below)

1970 –Charter signed May 3, 1970. Pastor Kurt Johnson called in 1969 to start a new mission, primarily focused around Oak Ridge North. In June 1970 LCA recognized LOL as 100th congregation in Eastern District of Tx-LA Synod. 1st generation in The Woodlands. LOL started before The Woodlands established in 1974. Linda and Willard Fisher recently moved away was here at beginning. Now in 2nd generation to celebrate 50 years of ministry and service.

1971 –Decided to build on property purchased by Mission Board on Robinson Rd, now where bowling alley now sits. Groundbreaking 1971 with dedication June 1972.

1972 –Pastor Johnson resigns in 1972 with Pastor John Eckhardt taking interim position.

1973 –Pastor George Falk becomes Pastor.

1973 –Congregation grows with Sunday School and VBS started in portable building “The Ark.”

1974 –The Woodlands, with 25,000 acres of logging property, opened as a “New Town” with LOL at its front door. Octoberfest started in backyard of Fred and Ursula Wagner.

1977 –Big decision to move to another location along I45 or into The Woodlands as planned overpass to take church property. Decision to move to location next to Lamar Elementary, but later changed to undeveloped new Panther Creek, where no homes yet existed.

1979 –groundbreaking Jan 14, 1979 at 3801 S. Panther Creek, our current location. Bobby Blair, chairperson for building committee. Dedicated Sep 9, 1979.

1983 – Pastor Falk resigns taking a call in California. Pastor Lowell Anderson accepts interim position.

1984 –Co Pastors Carl and Mary Hansen arrive to serve as new ministers to LOL.

1986 –Ed Ross, Stewardship chair organized Miracle Sunday to put church finances back on track

1988 –Voted to join newly formed ELCA. Community outreach programs expanded.

1989 –Pastors Carl and Mary Hansen resign, taking a call in Iowa. Congregation now at 500 baptized members. Pastor Don Gebert accepts interim pastor position.

1990 –Pastor Charles Kindsvatter arrives as new Sr Pastor from Holy Cross in Austin.

1991-2 –Membership began to increased.

1992 –Building program passed to expand and renovate the facility designed to handle 1300-1500 members

1992 –With Pastor Gebert managing funds appeal Dr Joel Reed announced $675K pledged for new building program.

1993 –Groundbreaking in January to increase facility from 8000 sqft to over 17,000 sqft.

1993 –Gebert Mission Fund established.

1994 –Palm Sunday processed out of “old sanctuary” into new.

1994 –Major flood with 20 inches rain. LOL goes into immediate aid mode to neighbors survival and restoration.

1995 –Membership increased from 520 in 1988 to 1,300 in 1995, 166 joined in 1994. From 1990 to 2000 The Woodlands population grew by 90%. Pastor George Bement accepts position as Associate Pastor until 1998. Celebrated 25th anniversary of congregation along with 2nd annual Golf Tournament. Special guest Pastor Kurt Johnson. Kids of the Kingdom Preschool opens under the direction of Karen Randolph. KOK offered classes on Tuesdays/Thursdays for 60 children ages 18 months – 5 years and 11 staff members.  

1997 –Spirit of Joy started with support of LOL. Pastor Tom Grevlos called to begin mission work. Susan Hoffman began as Director of Music.

1998 –3rd worship service started at LOL. Pipe organ purchased and installed. 1948 organ from Georgia. Pastor Bement resigns. Pig Roast very popular and raises substantial money for Pastor’s discretionary fund.

2000 –Plans for Capital Funds Appeal to renovate the office area and add educational space and Fellowship Hall. Randa Martin becomes Director of Kids of the Kingdom Preschool. 25th Annual Oktoberfest with more than 150 members and guests in attendance. Michael Wutzke became Director of Music.
2001 – Worship and staff offices move across the street to McCullough school while new facilities were expanded.
2002 – Expansion completed. Rachel’s Remnants continued to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
2003: Staff included Lanette Jackson, Carol Lazenby, Kathy Greer, Joe Lazenby asbuilding superintendent, Peggy Crowell, Danae Wilker, Anne Swetich, Michael Wutzke,Nancy Steiner, Eva Sellman, Chris Koch, and Randa Martin. Phil Beckler served as President of the Congregation with Marlene Hoffheiser as vice-president

2004 –Early in year Pastor Kevin resigned as associate Pastor and Pastor Kindsvatter announced his retirement for Nov 2004. Pastor Kick Monson accepted interim Senior Pastor position.

2005 –Pastor Beth Marie Halvorsen in June became new Senior Pastor with Pastor Steve Quill serving as Associate Pastor.
2007 – Jennifer seaks Finley joins Lord of Life as Youth Director, replacing Eva Sellman. Randy Partain becomes Director of Music.

2008 –Economic crisis affects LOL budget as all aspects of the economy.

2009 –Pastor Halvorsen resigned as Senior Pastor with Pastor Cliff Akerman taking the Interim position and Pastor Nancy Simpson hired as Associate Pastor. Beth Goetting took over as Director of Ministry of Daily Life from Bill Tomarelli and Vicky Roberts as Director of Family Faith Formation. Marshall Maxwell is organist. Pamela Tamburello accepted position as Interim Director Worship and Music. Choir director, David Plummer. Sarah Schlacks Bell and Chimes director. 

2010 –Call committee working early in year calls Pastor Gary Heath as Senior Pastor to begin in October.

2011 –Strengthened partnership with church in Peru. Vision team looks at priorities of the church and recommends a funds appeal for Capital and Stewardship campaign. Michelle McGuire becomes Director of Kids of the Kingdom Preschool. Patrick Nazaroff joins the staff as Director of Teen Life.

2012 –$2.1M pledged for 3 year campaign. Dr. Rob Hunt hired as Director of Worship and the Arts. Pastor Jennifer Fuhr installed as new Associate Pastor.

2013 –Gebert Mission fund golf tournament continues to raise money. After years of selling Lutheran World Relief Fair Trade coffee under the guidance of Outreach Director Anne Swetich, the Hands of Faith Fair Trade ministry, managed by member Beth Miller, begins selling hand-crafted items from artisans around the world in a small classroom.

2014 –Balcony for sound and video controls is finished along with unexpected Fire Sprinkler system.

2015 –Park & Ride Ministry begins and Pastor Jennifer Fuhr accepts a call in Pennsylvania.

2016 –Pastor John Hirling takes position as Associate Pastor.  Welcome One Another campaign begins planning work to address upgrades needed to facility.  New organ installed at LOL by the major planning and work of Paul Sonnemann and others.

2017 –Pastor David Bauser accepts permanent position as Associate Pastor. Hurricane Harvey inflicts major flooding damage on our area with LOL providing relief work for our members and neighbors. 500th year of the Reformation.

2018 –Welcome Center ground breaking with intention to renovate the bathrooms and replace most of the floors in narthex and offices. Unexpected mold remediation work begins. Welcome Center is completed and adds a major upgrade to our space to meet and greet members and visitors, along with technology upgrades for video and security cameras, and landscaping. Hands of Faith Fair Trade ministry moves to new space with access to Welcome Center and it’s own entrance.  Pastor Gary takes a four month sabbatical to refresh and recuperate after a busy work filled tenure. Year ended with the sanctuary beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.

2019 –Completed new Kitchen remodel. Paid off building mortgage – first time in 50 years. End of three year Welcome One Another capital campaign. Dr. Rob Hunt leaves LOL as Organist and Choir Master. Dan Fenn comes to LOL as director of music and Worship and the Arts. Launched yearlong 50th Anniversary celebration for 2020 with kickoff December 31 New Year’s Eve Bash.

2020 –50th Anniversary Committee has guest preachers scheduled for almost every month to honor our celebration year along with special anniversary day May 4 congregational gathering and meal. Covid-19 SARS-Coronavirus changes normal life with lockdowns in March that closed the church for worship and all other gatherings. Senior Pastor Gary Heath announces his retirement in August for effective date November 8. Worship services scheduled to reopen September 20 on limited basis with new A/V systems to live stream services to those not able to attend. Kids of the Kingdom Preschool celebrates 25 years in our community, offering classes 4 days/week for 120 children and employs 22 staff members.

Marilyn and Gifton Underwood, the first couple married at Lord of Life, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this spring with a cake in the fellowship hall this summer.