Charity Lutheran Church is an independent congregation of the Lutheran confession. This congregation self consciously seeks to be faithful to her Lord by being Christ centered, Scripturally based, and in ongoing continuity with the one holy catholic and apostolic Faith down through the ages. The congregation specifically carries out our Lord’s commission to “make disciples of all nations” in Burleson and in the surrounding communities. All nations are welcome here, and Charity Lutheran Church is a multi-ethnic congregation.
The origin of Charity Lutheran Church dates back to 1974 when preliminary meetings were held to determine the level of interest in establishing a Lutheran Church in Burleson. At that time the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was given the go-ahead to begin the mission as a dual effort with the Lutheran Church in Cleburne. The beginning was delayed several months due to a pastoral vacancy in the Cleburne congregation.
Rev. Ben Rathgeber was installed as pastor for the Cleburne congregation and as mission developer in Burleson in July of 1975.
In early 1975 more meetings were held to determine if enough people were interested in establishing a Lutheran Church. An organizational meeting was held at the Episcopal Church on Wednesday, September 24, 1975. The first worship service was conducted on the afternoon of November 2, 1975 at 3:00PM with 100 in attendance. The location was in the cafetorium of A.E. Frazier Elementary School. The offering on that day was $372.65. Thereafter services were held at 8:30AM each Sunday with Sunday School at 9:30AM.
Temporary officers elected to guide the new venture were Dick Jamison, Chairman; Blanche Habeck, Secretary; Don Gloff, Treasurer and Financial Secretary; and Wayne Smith, Sunday School Superintendent.
Approximately 5,000 leaflets were distributed in the Burleson area to promote the beginning of the new mission known as Burleson Lutheran Mission Church. Stated as the purpose of the new church — “As Lutheran Christians we will endeavor to present the one thing needful for peace and joy in this world and in the world to come, THE GOOD NEWS THAT JESUS CHRIST CAME INTO THE WORLD TO PROVIDE LOVE AND SALVATION.”
In the fall of 1975 a three acre tract of land was purchased on Highway 174 South (the present location) at a cost of $4,500. Later the name “Charity” was selected as the symbolic title under which the church would operate. The name was submitted by member Shirley Smith.
On November 13, 1975 a constitution committee was selected comprised of Dick Jamison, Ken Nitsche, Otis Kunkel, Wayne Smith, Joanne Burchette and Bud Harrison. The new constitution was approved on March 7, 1976.
The first Sunday School teachers were Betty Harrison, Linda Jones, Beverly Reifel, Shirley Smith, Carol Smith, Ken Nitsche and Joanne Burchette (special education).
Charity received State Charter on Friday, April 23, 1976. Charter Sunday was observed on Sunday, May 16, 1976. The Rev. Glenn O’Shoney, Executive Director of the Board of Mission Administration, was the guest speaker, with 58 communicant members and 28 children signing the charter.
The first group to be confirmed at Burleson Lutheran Mission Church consisted of two Junior Confirmands, Michelle Meyer (member of Ascension, Cleburne), and Terri Marie Smith, and three adults, John D. Croy, Dennis Evans, and Paul O’Flaherty being confirmed by the Rev. Ben Rathgeber on Charter Sunday.
The first permanent officers were elected in November 1976. They were: Otis Kunkel, President; Wayne Smith, Vice-President and Elder; Dick Jamison, Financial Secretary; Blanche Habeck, Mission Director; Lloyd Habeck, Properties Director; Pauline Claunch, Christian Growth Director; John Croy, Public Relations Director; James Dieterich, Organizations Director; Jerry Claunch, Talent and Resource Director.
On April 3, 1977 a ground breaking ceremony was held on the property on Highway 174 South. Those who served on the building committee included Lloyd Habeck, Chairman; Dick Jamison, Otis Kunkel, Larry and Shirley Smith.
After many hours of prayer, planning and hard work, the new church facility was dedicated to the Glory of God in special services at 3:00PM on Sunday, September 25, 1977. The Rev. Gerald Otte of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Fort Worth was the guest speaker.
The 4,200 square foot, multi-purpose facility featured a beamed ceiling, rust carpet, six Sunday School rooms, nursery, kitchen, Pastor’s study, and church office with a seating capacity of 200 for worship, The hand-crafted wooden cross which still hangs above the altar today was made and donated by member Paul Kinsey. The pulpit, altar, baptismal font, communion rails and pews were received as a gift from Messiah Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas. The altar and baptismal font are made of solid marble. The stained glass windows were a gift from Don and Beverly Reifel and Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Miller. The cost of the building and parking lot was approximately $127,000.
The first ladies Bible study was held on February 11, 1976 in the home of Blanch Habeck. Thereafter, Bible studies were held in the homes of various members on the first and third Wednesday of the month.
The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (L.W.M.L.) had an organizational meeting on April 28, 1976 in the home of Mrs. Shirley Smith. Temporary officers were selected. On November 8, 1976, the first permanent officers were elected. They included: Charlene Kunkel, President; Shirley Smith, Vice-President; Linda Jones, Secretary; and Pauline Claunch, Treasurer. The Charity L.W.M.L. chapter has since dissolved, but the women of Charity Lutheran Church continue to be a vibrant force, performing many important works of service to the Lord.
The first Youth League officers were elected in 1979.
We have been blessed by many talented organists over the past twenty years including Lois Rathgeber, Mary Cell, Doris Lee Kollmeyer, Mary Wollenburg, Kraig Kunkel and Dorothy Krans. Currently sharing the organists’ duties are Denise Oyler and Denise Heimbigner.
Serving as church secretary for the first five years was Blanche Habeck. Marie Farmer has served in that capacity for the twenty years since.
The Rev. Ben Rathgeber served as Missionary at Large from July 20, 1975 through December 31, 1977. The Rev. Harold A. Hein, served as interim pastor from October 16, 1977 through November 1978. The Rev. Glen C. Kollmeyer was installed as the first resident pastor on December 3, 1978. He came to Burleson from Enid, Oklahoma after serving pastorates at Odessa, San Angelo, and Baytown, Texas. Rev. Kollmeyer served until January 1983 when he returned to Enid, Oklahoma for semi-retirement.
On January 20, 1983, it was officially noted by the Board of Mission Administration that Charity Lutheran Church had reached the status of a self-sustaining congregation. A portion of the letter follows: “Your own decision to take this step is to be lauded. It is an indication of your strong commitment to the ministry of the Gospel in and around Burleson, By taking this giant step, you are saying that God’s spirit truly has been working in and through you individually, as members, and collectively as a congregation.” Rev. Fred Boden, Executive Director, Texas District LC-MS.
Rev. Walter Huber from Waxahachie served as interim pastor through November 1983.
On December 4, 1983, the second resident pastor was installed. The Rev. Roger D. Sterle came to us from Renault, Illinois after previously serving in Montana and the mission field in Sri Lanka. Rev. Sterle served until February 23, 1986 when he accepted a call to Fallon, Montana.
Rev. Jack Schneider, Associate Pastor at St. Paul, Ft. Worth served the vacancy through November 16, 1986.
On November 23, 1986, the third resident pastor was installed. The Rev. John T. Lindner came to Burleson from Lampasas. He had previously taught in Lutheran Parochial Schools in Fort Meyers, Florida and Hong Kong, had served as Evangelistic Missionary to the Philippines serving on Luzon Island, and also served in Iowa.
In 1985 a building committee was formed, but due to the vacancy in 1986, this committee was put on hold. After the installation of Pastor Lindner, the members of Charity once again began to express their desire for growth. After becoming apparent that Charity Lutheran Church was in a position to expand her mission and ministry to the Burleson community, the building committee was reactivated in January 1987. Committee members were: Wesley Ballmann, Chairman; Don Stelling, Gene Roy, Royal Bonner and Diane Pearson. The Interior Furnishings Committee included: Don Stelling, Chairman; Bonnie Erickson, Marie Farmer, LuAnn Roy, Celeste Ballmann, and Gene Roy.
On June 26, 1988 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the Fellowship Hall building. The new building would include 5 Sunday School rooms, Nursery, youth room, a large fellowship area, kitchen and church offices.
On April 2, 1989, Dedication Service for the new Fellowship Hall which added 8,500 square feet to the present Sanctuary was held with the Rev. Glen Kollmeyer as the guest speaker.
April 1, 1990, a Dedication Service for the newly landscaped courtyard was held. This had been a labor of love by the members of Charity in appreciation to Robert Weber for his 10 years of dedicated service as Janitor.
In 1990, under the leadership of Pastor Lindner, a Pre-School Task Force was formed which included Patti Hoeppner, Glenda Miller, Sadie Roy, Trina Bowden and Terri Lee. The result was the beginning of a Mother’s Day Out Program in September 1991 for one day a week beginning with only 13 children. The program was later expanded to 2 days a week and currently has enrolled 68 children and offers 7 classes, Nursery through Pre-Kindergarten. Katrina Smiley currently serves as Director.
Rev. Lindner left on August 4, 1991 after accepting a call to Gloria Dei, Houston, Texas.
On November 17, 1991, the fourth resident pastor was installed. Rev. Blair Clark came from Paris, Tennessee. He accepted a call to West Bend, WI in April 1996.
Rev. Peter Diebenow served as our Interim Pastor the next year.
On October 12, 1997, our fifth and current resident Pastor was installed. The Rev. Kent A. Heimbigner, formerly Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Marlin, Texas was also a Ph D. student at Baylor University. With the help and support of Charity Lutheran Church, he completed the requirements for this degree in September of 2001. He was formally awarded his degree on December 15, 2001.
On January 11, 2009, Charity Lutheran Church came to the recognition that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) had effectively changed its doctrine and practice. Desiring to remain faithful to our Lord and to the historic doctrine and practice of confessional Lutheranism, the Voters’ Assembly elected to secede from the LCMS. Since that time, Charity Lutheran Church has Since that time, Charity Lutheran Church has become affiliated with the Evangelical Diocese of North America (ELDoNA). Read the Documents of Secession.
God has richly blessed us through the years with additions and improvements made possible through the generous donations of members and friends.