Our Savior Lutheran Church turns 50

November 2, 2010

By Laura Geggel

At the beginning of most services during the past 50 years, organist Vern Lindquist has played a quiet prelude, helping people transition from their busy lives into the serenity of worship at Issaquah’s Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Youngsters and their camp leaders at Our Savior Lutheran Church form a line to return inside after recess and refreshments during vacation Bible school in the 1990s. Contributed

Lindquist played the piano for the first service, Oct. 1, 1960, at the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE, just as he will play the organ at the church’s three-day, 50th-anniversary celebration this weekend, when the church celebrates its past, current and future members.

The first Lutheran church in Issaquah, Our Savior Lutheran moved from the theater a year later, after its members dedicated the first phase of their new church building. The founding pastor, Ernest Collard, circled the rural city and built a congregation of 82 members at a time when the city was less than 4,000 people.

From there, the church grew, and today it has more than 300 families in its congregation.

Kathy Guthmiller’s family joined in 1974, and it welcomed them with open arms. Even before she became an official member, the congregation invited her to serve on its worship committee, which planned the church’s music and services. When the committee introduced a new hymnal, it worked with the choir to help people learn the songs.

Guthmiller also served on the Evangelism Committee, teaching elementary school children songs during Sunday school. She said she felt like a grandmother to many in the congregation, and her heart swelled when she heard Sarah Fletcher, once a girl in her music class who is now an opera singer, sing a farewell to her father, Jim Fletcher, at his funeral in October.

“I remember her when she sang in third grade and she had such a wonderful voice,” Guthmiller said.

She also helped organize the annual Christmas pageant, and spoke warmly of a quiet student who made everyone laugh when he donned a cow costume and danced in front of the whole church, and of how children playing sheep in the nativity scene would sometimes escape, looking for their parents.

Her husband, Bernell Guthmiller, found community there, too, when he donated his electrician skills to help build the new sanctuary — now the social hall — at the church in 1974.

“There was a lot of friendship there with the people who worked there,” he said.

Many groups in Issaquah received a helping hand from the church during their nascent stages. Pastor Dick Wendt, who served from 1974 to 1985, said, “the church is there to serve the community.”

Under his leadership, congregants opened the church’s doors to homeless teenagers through Friends of Youth. The move was not without controversy, with some not understanding the need for a teenage homeless shelter and others praising the idea, but unsure if the church were the right place to house the teens at night.

The shelter continued until Friends of Youth was able to house the youths itself and create a crisis hotline for parents needing help, which was run by church volunteers.

Wendt also encouraged his members to become licensed foster parents. The church gave a home to Issaquah’s senior center, and its founder, Tommie Troutman, said it was in her office space at the church that she got to know and embrace the people of Issaquah.

The church has myriad community service programs, and has opened its doors to Boy Scout troops, Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous, as well as sent mission groups around the world.

The current pastors, Ryan Fletcher and Larry Thomas, continue to lead by example, promoting community service and preaching the gospel.

“I’m grateful to be able to serve the members and friends of this congregation and be welcomed into their hearts and lives,” Thomas said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

OSLC celebrates the past, present and future

  • The past: 7 p.m. Nov. 5
  • The present: 6 p.m. Nov. 6
  • The future: 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Nov. 7
  • Where: 745 Front St. S.
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