The History Of Central Lutheran
A RICH HISTORY IN A TRADITIONAL LUTHERAN SETTING
Central Lutheran Church was organized as a mission church in 1925 by the District President of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, Rev. J.A. E. Naess. The congregation started as an English-speaking church, breaking from its original Norwegian heritage of offering services in the Norwegian language. This shift to English was typical of many churches in the late teens and early 1920’s, as immigrant groups were melding into the larger English populace.
Central Lutheran’s first home was the ornate 1889 wooden church at 1001 South G Street in downtown Tacoma, originally built for the First Presbyterian Church. In 1954, Central’s congregation received orders from Pierce County to vacate the building for the new County-City Building which was to be constructed on the site. On March 6, 1955, the last service was held at the old church.
In November 1954, Central Lutheran purchased the property in the Stadium district of the north end of Tacoma, still close to the downtown hub. The large, new brick structure was designed by noted architectural firm Lea, Pearson & Richards. The congregation, approximately 1,200 at that time, pledged to fund the new structure. In addition, many individual members contributed their time and expertise to the church’s construction. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on April 29, 1956, and the congregation moved into their new home on June 16, 1957. The building was formally dedicated on October 13, 1957, with a well-documented day highlighted by three services and a total reported attendance of 2,500.
A highlight of the church building is its large, beautiful sanctuary with its remarkable stained-glass windows, both traditional (moved from the original building) and contemporary (in the liturgical colors of reds, purples, blues, and gold). A huge haloed cross, 21 feet by 8 feet, adorns the chancel wall, and it was designed to represent the star of Bethlehem. The church’s impressive pipe organ was moved from the original church and enhanced and reconstructed by master organ builders Balcom and Vaughan of Seattle. Nationally known virtuoso Virgil Fox gave a public concert on this instrument in the 1950s. The church also houses a nine-foot ebony grand piano, originally owned by the Temple Theater in Tacoma.
A distinctive exterior feature of the church is its seventy-foot-high bell tower with its large lit rotating cross dominating the top of the structure. The original church building at 10th and G had a towering cross that was visible to incoming and outgoing ships on Commencement Bay. The new church replicated that idea in its new design. The cross is clearly a city landmark and visible from many areas of the city and surrounding waterways.
Pastoral History Of Central Lutheran
Rev. John L. Redal
Pastors Of Central Lutheran Church Have Included:
1931 – 1938 – E. M. Hegge
1938 – 1947 – Parnell B. Hoff
1947 – 1951 – Roy E. Olson
1951 – 1952 – Jacob L. Redal (interim)
1952 – 2006 – Rueben H. Redal
2006 – 2009 – Michael J. Adams (interim)
2009 – 2013 – Erich Sokoloski
2013 to present – John L. Redal
In 2013, Rev. John Redal, grandson of Rev. Jacob L. Redal and son of Rev. Dr. Rueben H. Redal, was called as senior pastor of Central Lutheran Church. Central Lutheran joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) in 1952, which later merged with the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in 1960. In 1965, Rev. Dr. Rueben Redal, along with a group of concerned pastors and laypeople, founded Lutherans Alert National (LAN) to inform Lutherans in all synods of the liberalism that was creeping into the Lutheran Church. Dr. Redal was the organization’s president until his death in 2006. In 1969, Dr. Redal founded Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary (now known as Faith International University) to ensure the teachings of historical Lutheranism were being rightly taught and preserved. In the late 1970’s, Central Lutheran left the synod body of the ALC believing that its teachings were becoming too secular, straying from the core doctrinal teachings of the Bible and the historical beliefs of the Lutheran Confessions. Central Lutheran was instrumental in forming the Conservative Lutheran Association (CLA) in 1980, partnering with other Lutheran churches with the same stance. Central Lutheran Church remains a member of the Conservative Lutheran Association (CLA).