A Brief History of Hope Lutheran Church
The representatives from Christ Church, Englewood; Faith Church, Rotonda/West; Living Waters Church, North Port; and Holy Trinity Church in Port Charlotte met in Christ Church to discuss the venture of establishing a new mission congregation in Gulf Cove , Port Charlotte in 1985.
Pastor Fred Moore, Mission Developer for the American Lutheran Church, appointed Retired Pastor Ed Reeves and Pastor Herb Wolber to survey the area. Pastor Reeve's wife Arline remains an active member of Hope Lutheran Church.
The first worship service was held in community Building in El Jobean in January of 1986 and offices for the church were opened on Worthwhile Street in El Jobean. In August of 1986 Pastor Leroy Beck was called to be the first pastor of Hope. On November 16th of 1986 the congregation was organized as a joint venture of the four previously mentioned congregations. It was the first congregation organized as a member of the new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
After organization was completed Bud and Dorothy Willis offered their home as a meeting place or worship space. Dorothy Willis is still an active member of Hope Lutheran Church. There was an immediate search for land and the mission found land to be quite expensive.
At the first worship service at the Community Center in El Jobean there were 131 people present with much of the support coming from the four congregations that gave Hope their initial life. The attendance after the first service numbered 61, 47, 26 and 47. The members were pleased with the progress.
Almost from the beginning a Sunday school was organized and met at 10:15.Hilda Corron was the first Superintendent. Hilda remains an active member and Jill Mead, president of church council was one of two teachers. Dorothy Willis and Arline Reeves were co-editors of the newsletter. The first church council president was Abijah (Bud) Willis, vice president was Arline Reeves, and Jill Mead was the secretary.
On November 16, 1986 at 3:00 pm forty-five servants of God became charter members of Hope Lutheran Church and began their ministry to the people of Port Charlotte.
For five years the members of Hope planned for the day when they would worship in their own House of God. On March 15, 1992 their dreams come true. A write up and photo of ground breaking was printed by the area newspapers. The picture of Rev. Herbert Wolber, project manager Ken Willing, Council President John Watts, Rev. Leroy Beck and building contractor Randy Wallace turning over the ground was roundly applauded.
In 2008 the congregation was still saddled with a mortgage of $130,000 and looked forward to a future of some hardship. Ludwig and Margaret Fresenius, associate members that live in Germany challenged the congregation to raise $65,000 before Easter and if they did the Fresenius would match it. Pastor Clyde Kaminska directed a very successful fund drive to reach the challenge goal. Ken Willing was also recognized for his great service in making all things come together. In April at a Sunday morning service Pastor Lee Magneson and Clair Miller, property chairman lit fire to the mortgage and along with all of the members of Hope watched it burn. The choir broke out spontaneously to Amazing Grace. Assistant to the Bishop Rita Gardner Tweed was the preacher for this service of celebration.
Other dates of importance that gather memories are:
March 7, 1993-Dedication of newly constructed Hope Lutheran Church
May 21, 1995-Pastor Becks last Sunday at Hope
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Our Address14200 Hopewell Avenue
Port Charlotte, Florida 33981