The beginnings of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church reach back to 1963 when a canvass of homes in northwest Wichita was made by the Wisconsin Synod Mission Board. The results showed potential for starting a new mission as soon as possible. A call was sent in 1965 to Pastor David Plocher, then at Winner, South Dakota. He came that summer to serve Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church at Halstead and to begin resident mission work in Wichita. Bible study groups gathered in private homes until the Lord developed a nucleus of believers who wanted to hold public worship services.
By April 3rd, 1966, plans were ready. The first worship service was conducted in the Kensler School auditorium with 43 in attendance. Three weeks later the nine families formally organized in a meeting at the rented parsonage on Wilbur Lane. Incorporation followed in January, 1967. Membership in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod was granted at the 1967 Convention. The infant mission next rented chapel space at Dotzour Realty and at the West Branch YMCA before moving to the newly built parsonage-chapel on December 1, 1968. The chapel was in the garage of the parsonage.
Meanwhile, nineteen lots were purchased at Ridge Road and West 11th Street and were plotted for a future church and school site. Other developments, however, led to the present location where a church had already been built in 1960. It was purchased for $45,000 from another denomination and renovated with an additional $3800 plus volunteer efforts by members and friends. On November 10th, 1970, the church was dedicated to the Triune God, a gift from Him of almost 5000 square feet of floor space on an ample site of 4.7 acres.
In the years to come, Messiah continued to grow. With the Lord’s help, plans were made to open a Christian Day School. On the morning of August 25, 1976, twelve students were sitting at their desks. Messiah Lutheran School opened its doors every year thereafter until the fall of 1987. In the ten years there were three teachers: James Hewitt, Gary Bain and Joe Pitonak. There were from seven to fourteen students each year. Messiah was also blessed with the funds to build a teacherage on the southwest corner of the church property in 1977.
In April of 1978, Pastor Plocher accepted a call to St. Paul of Marshall, Wisconsin. Pastor Donald Laude answered Messiah’s call and was installed by July.
In 1987, a little over twenty years after the first public worship service, Messiah was again without a pastor when Pastor Laude accepted a call to the dual parish of St. Mark of Salina and Faith of Russell, Kansas. But by the grace of God, Pastor Jon Rockhoff, our current Pastor, arrived in July.
In the last ten years many major improvements have been made to the property. The sanctuary has been carpeted and pews replaced. Although not new, the pews are padded and in good condition. All furnaces have been replaced, along with the addition of central air conditioning. The parking lot has been resurfaced with a coating of asphalt. A new Allen digital organ was purchased and a speaker system installed.
At the parsonage, the kitchen has been remodeled with replacement of cabinets and flooring. Tile was installed in the entry and hallway. A new lawn and fence have been added.
The teacherage was redecorated in the summer of 1999, with new carpeting and electric range installed at that time.
Most importantly, Messiah members have grown spiritually. Church and Bible class attendance are well above Synod average. We have two active youth groups. Our evangelism program includes neighborhood canvassing twice a year and a monthly bulk mailing to over 200 prospects. These letters are followed up with phone calls twice a year. Messiah also operates a booth at the Sedgwick County Fair, handing out tracts and Bibles and personally witnessing to our faith. Our pastor conducts a Bible Information Class for members and prospects twice a year, and a Training Christians for Ministry class weekly. He also has a three year youth confirmation class. Messiah has one week of Vacation Bible School in the summer and year-round Sunday School and Bible Class.
We are a family at Messiah, always willing to help each other and also looking for ways to enlarge God’s kingdom here in Wichita.
With a lot of hard work Messiah has become a wonderful place for God’s children to worship and praise Him. Providing spiritual food for Christ’s people will continue to be the purpose and goal of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in the future. As the world around us grows more godless, may the Lord our God give us increasing zeal and growing strength for this, the only work on earth that will last for an eternity.