You are indeed our rock and our fortress; for your name’s sake lead us and guide us. (Psalm 31:3)
It started in July 1945, when three Lutheran families in Kelowna invited a Vernon Pastor to hold Sunday services in their homes. As more Lutheran families moved to Kelowna, the focus shifted to establishing a church which led to the call of Pastor Henry Vorrath.
On March 17, 1949, at an organizing meeting, the name "Christ Lutheran" was chosen by 35 confirmed members. The congregation purchased two lots at Bernard Ave and Richter St. Aided by the American Lutheran Church, they built a beautiful church in downtown Kelowna which is now the French Cultural Center.
The dedication occurred on November 26, 1950. The congregation faced financial challenges initially, but by 1971, it became the fastest-growing congregation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, with 120 English and 80 German families.
In 1973, plans for a mission church in Rutland materialized, leading to the establishment of Faith Lutheran Church. Christ Lutheran financially supported the mission for five years. Afterward, the Christ congregation continued to grow, prompting the purchase of land for a new larger church and an apartment complex for low-income seniors.
In 1976, the groundbreaking service for the new location on Gordon Drive took place. The project was carried out with a fantastic building committee, a talented finance committee, a limited amount of hired professional help, a lot of volunteer ability within the congregation, and building supply donations. The church was ready for occupancy within six months!!! The designer of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church complex was Paul Skutshek.
On December 5, 1976, the new Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church opened on 2091 Gordon Drive. The new church was dedicated on March 13th, 1977. In 1982, the congregation stepped up on its own – without government funding – to build affordable housing for seniors: Gordon Manor was created! During the 50th anniversary year, beautiful stained-glass windows were added to the church.
Over the years, German Choir, Worship Chorale, Sunday School, Lutherleague (Youth group), our Men’s Hockey team, Confirmation, Altar Guild, Bible Study groups, Frauenverein, Women of CELC, New Horizons, Friends, Stewardship, Church Councils, Custodians, Secretaries, Organists, and many Pastors contributed to the vibrant church life and created amazing memories.
As the congregation nears its 75th anniversary, the cornerstone was re-opened in November 2023, and revealed cherished hymnals, Luther's Small Catechism, and old issues of the local newspaper, 'The Kelowna Daily Courier.' We will add some more items and reseal the time capsule during the celebratory service on March 17, 2024.
We reflect with gratitude on our journey, our struggles and honor the many individuals who have shaped our history. God is indeed our rock and our fortress, leading and guiding us into the future!