CTK’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
“The Beginnings by Kenneth Jensen”
In 1961, the church council at Faith Lutheran Church discussed the need for starting another American Lutheran Church (ALC) in Hutchinson. At that time, Faith Lutheran Church had approximately 1,400 members and was located in a downtown area surrounded on three sides by homes and businesses. Because of the location of Faith Lutheran Church, the council felt it would be limited in accommodating their growing numbers of members, with an estimate of 3,000 members over the next 20 years. It was felt Hutchinson would continue to grow to be a city of 15,000 or more people in the future. Therefore, the council felt a need to start another ALC church in Hutchinson. I was president of the congregation and a member of the Faith Lutheran Church council when we voted to invite the American Mission Board of the ALC to consider our request. At that time, the ALC Synod was headquartered in Minneapolis at the Augsburg Publishing House building, which was close by. Pastor Russell Helgeson, district director of American Missions, first met with council members at Faith Lutheran Church. He explained that the Missions Board would come to Hutchinson to do a survey of the community to determine whether there was a need to start a mission church in Hutchinson. Next, a congregational meeting was held to explain to members of Faith Lutheran Church what was being done and why. At that meeting, Pastor Helgeson explained that the Missions Board would first conduct a survey of the community to determine if another ALC church was a good idea. He also said, “If the decision is to help start a new church, this is the way it will be done”. He further stated that a vote by the members of Faith Lutheran Church is NOT required to start a new church and that a decision would be made by the Missions Board and that this is how building would proceed:
- They will come to Hutchinson and select a site on which to build the church.
- They will buy the land and prepare it for building.
- They will hire a contractor to put up the building.
- They will build what they call the “first unit”. They will use plans they already have for that first unit.
- They will proceed to call a pastor to come and start the new church. This way the members of Faith Lutheran Church do not need to get involved in all of those decisions.
After the survey, the decision was to start a new ALC church in Hutchinson and its name would be Christ the King Lutheran Church (CTK). The church council at Faith Lutheran Church kept the members well informed on the progress of the new church. One Sunday morning, about six months before CTK would be ready to have its first service, Pastor Helgeson preached at Faith Lutheran Church. He proceeded to tell Faith members that there would be several ways in which Faith Lutheran Church could help the new church if they so desired:
- They could just simply give a gift of money to help CTK get started.
- They could choose to lend them their credit for the loan on the building or co-sign the loan.
- They could think about giving CTK some of their members to go out and start that congregation, as Sunday School teachers, council members, committee members, and choir members would all be needed. Members of the Faith Lutheran Church who lived in the west part of town, near the location of the new church, were to consider joining CTK. The Faith congregation, as a whole, was encouraged to give up some of its members to help start CTK.
Faith Lutheran Church chose to help by giving up some of its members. There was reluctance on the part of some of the members of Faith Lutheran Church to support CTK. Some felt that it could be a threat to their congregation if they lost a lot of their good financial supporters and that this could ultimately create a problem for them in meeting their budget. Some members were very vocal to the church council for starting this idea for a new church. They felt threatened. Because of this reluctance to get behind CTK, it was a very good idea to have the Home Mission Board come in and make all the decisions. That way it didn’t stir up friction in Faith Lutheran members over decisions that had to be made.
Some interesting points that I would like to share with you are:
- My father-in-law, Pastor N.B. Hansen, had recently pastored Faith Lutheran Church for 11 years.
- My parents were lifelong members at Faith Lutheran Church.
- My family and I were members at Faith Lutheran Church and I was on the church council.
- Because I was promoting all of this, some people said, “How can you do this?”
Ground breaking for Christ the King Lutheran Church was in August, 1962. I have to tell you about the building, the “first unit” that was constructed. Everyone in Hutchinson called it a “Sheep Shed”. It had shake shingles covering the sides from the top of the flat roof to the ground. The shingles actually went down into the ground. It looked like it had settled into the ground a couple of feet! There were windows only on the east and west sides. A section was added to the north of the sanctuary, about 36 x 36 feet for 2 offices, 2 rest rooms, a small kitchen, and a meeting or small lunch facility. Pretty basic! We have no idea whose idea it was to put shake shingles on for siding. We were not proud of it, but it became a conversation piece.
The Mission Board called Pastor E. David Natwick to be pastor of CTK and he accepted. On a hot late summer day in 1963, Pastor Dave and his wife, Estelle, along with their 5 children, drove into Hutchinson in their station wagon, from Palm Desert, California. Can you imagine what they all thought when they saw the “Sheep Shed”? “That’s the church?!” However, look at it today! The Home Mission Board agreed to help with pastoral salary and mortgage payments for the first 2 years. Their hope was that after 2 years CTK could be self-supporting. Christ the King Lutheran Church grew so rapidly that in one year they were self-supporting. About 41 families left Faith Lutheran Church to help start CTK. When CTK began, Faith Lutheran Church membership was at about 1,400 members. As I write this, the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church has grown to nearly 2,500 members! What does that tell you??
That’s the history of Christ the King Lutheran Church. The reason I am documenting everything is so there will be a record of how it started from someone who was there. I was president of Faith Lutheran Church when this started. I walked through the whole process with them. Because I was on the church council of Faith Lutheran Church at that time, I have first-hand experience and the memories of how this split-off materialized.
Christ the King Lutheran Church held its first service on August 18, 1963. It was a dedication service and installation of Pastor E. David Natwick. Present at that service were Dr. Edward Hansen, District President, and Pastor J.E. Anderson of Faith Lutheran Church. There were 228 charter members—55 families (41 having transferred from Faith Lutheran Church). Charter member, Merlyn Danielson (transferred from Faith), designed and crafted the pulpit, lectern, baptismal font and flower stands. These items are still used today in our present sanctuary. (Did you know that a salvaged door is the top of our altar?)
As our church grew, the additions kept coming. In 1964, a north addition was added to get another 5 classrooms. That work was all done by the members. In 1969, an addition was added to the east side. That gave us 1/3 more room in the sanctuary and added 6 classrooms. Much of that work was done by the members. In 1973, our membership had grown to 840 baptized members. In April, 1976, ground breaking was held for our present sanctuary. Eleven months later, in March, 1977, the new sanctuary was dedicated. This addition also included 3 offices, a meeting room, 2 restrooms, and a furnace room. In 1982, we added more classrooms to the east side of the original sanctuary. Much of that was done by our members. In early 1999 a buidling committee was organized and work began on the final 2.2 million dollar expansion. This addition added 3 preschool classrooms (accommodating about 100 children) and our present Youth Room on the west side of the First Unit. It necessitated removal of everything north of the old narthex to the south of the present sanctuary. It added 4 much needed offices, 2 work/storage rooms, a lounge room, a library, new restrooms, a kitchen, a large fellowship hall with many windows and ability to partition off smaller areas, a nursery, and music room. The large, beautiful open narthex with its welcome center has been a wonderful area for fellowship. The main entrance is now on the east side. The design of that last new addition was so well done to fit our needs as we grow. It all blends together so well one would think the whole building had been built at one time instead of all the different additions at different times. Dedication of the new addition was in June, 2001.
The membership of Christ the King at the time of this writing is about 2,300 members. We are grateful for and mindful of God’s part in all of this. Praise the Lord! What a blessing Christ the King Lutheran Church has been to this community and to our pastors, church staff, and members! We say “Thank you, Lord, for our church where we can serve you!”