Six families in 1922 established Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hinsdale, to worship God in the English language. Soon they were joined by 6 young women and three other families. Even before their first worship service, the small group held Sunday School in the place they had rented, the second-floor of a Hinsdale building on First Ave. near Washington St.
Ministers from the Missouri Synod’s English District at first led Redeemer’s services, but within months the small congregation’s first full-time minister arrived from Michigan, Rev. Dankworth. At about the same time, the congregation purchased property near the intersection of First Ave. and Blaine St. for $4500. In 1925, Redeemer’s first worship facility arose on that property, a sturdy, well-built brick chapel seating 150 persons.
By 1932, Redeemer Lutheran Church was financially independent, and in 1937 the congregation included 230 baptized members and 144 communicants. During WW II, the congregation mailed announcements and religious materials to 21 men and 2 women in the Armed Forces, and a large women’s “Red Cross Sewing Unit” met weekly at the church. In 2001, Redeemer’s average weekly worship attendance was 256 persons, and in 2011 the congregation numbered 591 baptized and 449 confirmed members. In 2013, the congregation’s annual budget was $510,000.
During the mid-1950s, the congregation purchased property at the corner of First St. and Park Ave. and the voters authorized the construction of a new worship facility there, Redeemer’s present home. In 1988, the congregation authorized a modern addition to that facility costing $1,300,000. and containing classrooms, meeting places, offices and an elevator. By 1995, the congregation was debt-free.
Full-time pastors and associate pastors, two deaconesses, 14 vicars (ministerial candidates in training), musicians and staff members, and many part-time persons have contributed to worship at Redeemer and helped its members learn, study and carry out a wide range of programs and activities. In 1954, the congregation hired an organist-choir director, beginning an emphasis on the music of worship that continues to this day. Over the years, 10 Redeemer members have become pastors or religious workers, almost all of whom have received financial support from the congregation.
In 1969, the women of Redeemer Lutheran received the right to vote in the congregation’s meetings. During the mid-1970s, Redeemer’s members voted to dissolve its relationship with the Missouri Synod. The congregation now is “…an interdependent part of the EvangelicalLutheranChurch in America” (Constitution, 2008). The Mission Statement of Redeemer reads: “Called by Christ and led by the Spirit, we strive to grow in faith, proclaim the Gospel and share God’s blessings”.
Among the congregation’s notable activities are Education Hour for Adults and Sunday School; get-togethers, outings and summer work-camps for teens and high school students; Quilters for Lutheran World Relief; weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings; the informative and long-lived Redeemer Record; Women’s Connection gatherings; concerts; annual lunches for Seniors; church dinners and picnics; support of the county-wide PADS effort or Public Access to Deliver Shelter; Snapfish, a photo library; and the support of many charitable drives worldwide, for instance, that for clean water.
Redeemer members acknowledge and give thanks to God for the many ministers and other religious workers who have exhorted and sought to lead us; baptized, instructed and confirmed us; stuck with us in times of distress; visited us when ill; and comforted us in the presence of death. Of course, their efforts have been augmented by countless Redeemer members who also in this short review must remain unnamed.
May all of us receive the reward of those who have attempted to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called…” (1 Timothy 6:12 [KJV]).
History presented by Theodore C. Doege