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A SLICE OF LIFE IN THE CLC
Snapshots of Congregations from Around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
“Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).
Beauty is one thing that is often associated with the Pacific Northwest. There are few other places in the world where one can gaze upon so many displays of the Lord’s wondrous creation. Mountains, dense forests, lush rivers and waterfalls, and the vast ocean are all within easy reach of Pacific Northwest inhabitants. It might be the only place in the world where you can witness a glacial reservoir and a rainforest in the same day!
Redemption Lutheran Church, of the Seattle, Washington, area is also unique in its beauty. The church’s high-reaching wooden timbers have a certain Pacific Northwest feel. Its rows of stained-glass windows cast a palette of color across the Lord’s house. The thunder of the mighty pipe-organ fills hearts with reverence and awe, especially when its melodic creations are connected with Gospel-filled stanzas. Tall cedar trees adorn the property as a testament of the Lord’s unchanging love. Yes, the word “beauty” fits well, both with the property and with God’s creation that surrounds it.
Yet beauty was around long before the walls of Redemption church were erected, and it’s about much more than sights and sounds. It began where it always does, in the forgiven heart. That’s why the members of Redemption take greater pride in the beauty of the Lord’s Word of grace, as it comes to them in spoken, written, and sacramental form. It was hearts filled with this beauty that were led to establish Redemption Lutheran Church on August 16, 1959. With no synodical attachment in the beginning, this small group called upon Pastor Gilbert Sydow of Ellensburg, Washington, to conduct services once a month.
Redemption received its first full-time pastor, Norbert Reim, on January 1, 1961. It officially became a member of the Church of the Lutheran Confession fifteen days later. This fledging group worshiped in a rented facility for a few years until a parcel of land in Alderwood Manor (a small village within Lynnwood) was purchased in 1965. A parsonage was built immediately, and not long afterward, in 1966, they broke ground on a church building. The sanctuary was completed, largely by volunteer labor, three years later.
In the following years, Redemption was blessed with stability and growth. In 1984 the members fulfilled one of their original goals, the establishment of a Christian day school. The school has operated since; due in large part to the Lord’s continued grace, as well as support from dedicated members. The school, in particular, has been a tremendous resource for reaching out to the community. Many non-member children have attended and been trained in the beauty of their Savior and Redeemer.
During the tenure of Pastor Bertram Naumann, who served Redemption for twenty-seven years, the congregation also had a hand in helping establish other CLC churches. In the early 90’s the members of Redemption supported a small group that began meeting near Tacoma, Washington, (south of Seattle); this group eventually became Ascension Lutheran Church. Pastor Naumann was also very influential in helping establish a mission in Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as two CLC congregations in Canada: Resurrection Lutheran of Calgary, Alberta; and St. Paul Lutheran of Vernon, British Columbia.
Throughout the years, other projects at Redemption were accomplished. In 2002, long-time member and organist, Tom Caulton, completed years of extensive work on the sanctuary’s pipe organ. Now the organ functions brilliantly each weekend with boisterous songs dedicated to the Lord. A recent addition of chimes to the assembly is also almost complete. Under the supervision of Pastor Caleb Schaller, work was also completed a few years ago to turn the upper balcony area into a usable worship space. Bible studies, fellowship activities, and Christian day school functions continue to operate out of the church basement.
What once was a quiet, rural community at the congregation’s beginning has since been transformed into a major Seattle suburb. Just north of Lynnwood is the city of Everett, Washington, home of the Boeing aerospace company and the largest building in the world by volume. Fifteen minutes south of Lynnwood is downtown Seattle. The Seattle area is one of the most secular parts of our country, therefore there are plenty of opponents to the truth of God’s Word. However, a blessing in disguise is that there is also no shortage of opportunities to share the peace of Christ with others. This beauty stands in stark contrast to the ugliness of sin and unbelief.
Despite many changes, both to congregation and community, two things have remained the same. First, the Lord’s grace and mercy upon His children, here in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the world. Second, and only because of the first, Redemption’s desire to serve the Lord and remain faithful to His Word. We continue to work with patient optimism in the promise that God’s Word “will not return to Him void, but will accomplish His purpose” (Isaiah 55:11). After all, in the Pacific Northwest one need only look to the horizon for a reminder of that very blessing, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7).
Mark Tiefel is pastor of Redemption Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, Washington.
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