Since 1922, Central Lutheran Church has a history of steady growth in the joy of life in our Lord Jesus Christ:
Central Lutheran Church had its beginnings in July 1922. With roots deeply buried in its Norwegian heritage, its “tap root” extending directly to Norse, in Bosque County, a community in Central Texas settled by Norwegian emigrants, this fledgling new church held its first services in the YMCA in downtown Dallas. Five people attended, including Pastor J.M. Rhome, just out of the seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He had been assigned to Dallas as a missionary to survey the field and work toward establishing a new congregation.
Formally organized in December 1922, its roster of charter members included names such as Grann, Amendson, Jensen, Olson, Hoel, Lonvik, and Hansen. Many were sons and daughters of those emigrants who had settled in and around the Norse community in Central Texas. Three Hansen sisters from a farm near Norse, Margaret, Willie Mae, and Hattie, were charter members. Margaret became Mrs. Robert Frost in 1923 when the first marriage was performed in the new congregation. Hattie was Central’s first organist. Some of Margaret Frost’s and Willie Mae Rowell’s grandchildren, and great grandchildren are members of Central.
The young congregation was incorporated in early 1923 and a loan was applied for to buy property on the east side of Dallas, at Carroll and Victor Streets, in what is now known as the inner-city. First called St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, the name was changed to Central Lutheran to better reflect its location in the growing city.
The original building was started in January 1923. Primarily constructed by members of the congregation who were master carpenters and craftsmen – like brothers Mike Grann (Mary Swenson’s father), and Tom Grann, (Henry’s father) – it cost $1,400 and was originally planned as a future parsonage.
A Brotherhood was organized in 1925 and the Luther League was established soon afterward. As the congregation continued to grow an addition to the chapel was made in 1929 providing more Sunday School rooms, and a large chapel was added in 1933, the same year the first Vacation Bible School was held.
In 1934 the Missionary Society was formed and a sewing circle made the first choir robes. By 1935 the congregational membership numbered 196 baptized.
The original building was remodeled again in 1937 and served as Sunday Schoolrooms until 1960 when the congregation moved to its present location on Easton Road.
Central Lutheran was instrumental in establishing a sister congregation, Oak Cliff Lutheran, in 1948 and transferred 42 members to that church. (This church closed in 2013.)
Similarly, nine years later Central transferred 10 members to help establish King of Glory Lutheran Church in North Dallas.
The first theological student from Central was Weldon Smith, brother of Central member Don Smith. Weldon was ordained in 1955 and commissioned a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. After the service he was pastor of churches in Central Texas and is now retired.
Relocation to East Dallas
In 1957, after careful study and prayerful consideration, Central Lutheran decided to follow the trend of many of its members and relocate from the “inner city” to the rapidly developing communities east of White Rock Lake. Property at 1000 Easton Road was purchased for the building of a new chapel and educational wing. This time the design and magnitude of the building were too much for member-craftsmen, but by April, 1960, under the watchful eye of its energetic young pastor, Roy Quill, and a dedicated building committee, a new chapel and educational wing for Central Lutheran Church were built and dedicated. Members of the building committee included Mary Haynie, Charlie Oldfield and Jack Morgan, with Sophus Thompson, Sr., a highly respected engineering professor at SMU, serving as chairman of the committee and structural engineer. The educational wing was later named in his honor. For the first time in its history, Central’s Sunday School classes could convene in genuine classrooms.
All new, modern furniture for the classrooms was purchased with a generous gift from Miss Karen Christianson, one of Central’s charter members. An emigrant from Norway, Karen had an overwhelming love for all children and they were drawn to her like a magnet. The Church library was dedicated to her memory. In 1964 another service of farewell was held as 22 members of Central were transferred to help establish Ascension Lutheran Church, a mission congregation to serve the Garland-Richardson area.
By 1967 the growing congregation was anxious to expand the facilities once again and ground was broken for an addition to the educational wing and a 500 seat, 6,400 square foot sanctuary with a contemporary roof and a bell tower crowned with a cross that soars over 70 feet above ground.
New Sanctuary Dedicated
On December 15, 1968, when the new sanctuary and enlarged educational wing were dedicated, membership stood at 817 baptized. To maximize the use of these new facilities, Central operated a kindergarten for a number of years. Established with a staff of several teachers under the direction of Mrs. Henry Grann, it was one of the area’s most respected kindergartens and operated until public school kindergartens were mandated.
Pastoral History of Central Lutheran Church
July, 1922 Rev. J.M. Rhone
October, 1922 Rev. A. Greibrok
July, 1925 Rev. J.K. Rystad
October, 1925 Rev. V.T. Judahl
June, 1933 Rev. Allen Nelson
February, 1942 Rev. Edgar Sovik
March, 1945 Rev. Olav Torvik
August, 1948 Rev. Don Hamilton
July, 1957 Rev. Roy Quill
June, 1975 Rev. H. Arvid Thorson
December, 1989 Rev. John Hillmer
August, 2001 Rev. Walter B. Klockers
January, 2008 Rev. Rich Pounds