A Brief History of Our Savior’s Ministry
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church began in 1978 when Epiphany Lutheran Church of Apache Junction decided there needed to be a preaching point in East Mesa. It wasn’t until 1982, however, when the American Lutheran Church purchased a five-acre parcel of land on the corner of Weir Avenue and South Ellsworth Road. It was decided this land would be developed as a temporary “drive-in worship facility”. In 1983 Pastor John Reitan was called to be the mission developer.
On January 8, 1984, the first worship service was held at the Stevenson Elementary School. In March of that same year, ground was broken for the construction of a church. Thanksgiving Day worship was held in the unfinished church building, with worshipers bringing their own lawn chairs to sit on.
Two years later in March 1987, Pastor David Wold, became the next pastor following Pastor Reitan’s retirement. The church quickly began outgrowing its space and in May 1991 planning began for a new addition. In September 1993, the first worship service was held in the new sanctuary.
In March 1997 Pastor Peter Perry, a recent seminary graduate, began his ministry as Associate Pastor for Family Life. In 1998 Our Savior’s accepted a proposal to help sponsor a mission congregation in the East Valley for two years. Pastor Glen Stadler accepted a call to become the mission developer for Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church.
In September of 2000, Pastor Myron Nysether began ministry at Our Savior’s as Associate Pastor of Outreach. Construction of a new administration wing, chapel, community room, and sunday school rooms began in July of 2001. It was completed in November the same year.
At the end of April 2002 Pastor Wold retired after serving 15 years of ministry at Our Savior’s. Pastor’s Nysether and Perry served as co-pastors until Pastor Mark Halvorson began his ministry as Senior Pastor in August 2004. Pastor Perry resigned his call to pursue a doctorate at LSTC seminary in Chicago.
In January 2003, Our Savior’s began holding worship services in the Mountain Brook Village town hall in Gold Canyon. In 2004 worship services moved to the Best Western in Gold Canyon which encouraged further growth. This was the beginning of vision for a second campus. At the 2005 annual meeting the congregation approved the purchase of a five acre site in Gold Canyon.
Pastor Jeff Solheim joined the pastoral staff in March of 2005 to help service the growing congregation. He had special emphasis on youth and families. He resigned his call in October 2007 to become a full time Air Force chaplain.
About this time, Our Savior’s began supporting Epiphany Lutheran in Apache Junction which was being served on an interim basis by Pastor John Braaten. Epiphany’s ministry had declined for a variety of reasons and Our Savior’s sought to help renew and restore this ministry which had initially given birth to Our Savior’s in the early 1980s. Within one year Epiphany’s ministry began to expand and conversations began regarding Epiphany becoming a third Our Savior’s campus which officially happened at the congregations annual meetings in 2009.
In July of 2008, recent seminary graduate, Matthew Dobyns began pastoral ministry at Our Savior’s with special focus on discipleship and mission. He continued until called to a nearby mission start in Gilbert in early 2010.
In the fall of 2007 Our Savior’s began serving as a seminary internship site. It wasn’t long before the congregation embraced this outreach ministry as an important part of Our Savior’s mission. In 2010 the internship program expanded with two interns from PLTS in Berkeley, CA.
Construction of the Gold Canyon campus began in early summer of 2010 and worship will first be held on December 19th. Part of this building project was the addition of a new pipe organ at the East Mesa campus. It has been in use since late August.
God has richly blessed the three campus ministry of Our Savior’s as it seeks new and innovative ways to serve the far East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona.