Concordia Lutheran Church continues to grow
Concordia Lutheran Church in Lower Macungie Township exists today because of the foresight of its founders at Concordia of Bethlehem nearly 35 years ago.
“That congregation realized the South Side Bethlehem neighborhood was changing and they were aging,” Concordia Pastor Waldemar Vinovskis said. “It was a real forward-looking group.”
That vision was harnessed by Pastor Raymond Malec, who on April 29, 1984, began worship services at Allen Organ’s Octave Hall.
For the next six years, Concordia used several venues for worship, with The Church of the Nazarene on Brookside Road serving as the primary locale.
In 1987, Concordia Lutheran was chartered and incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and two years later construction began on a building resting on eight acres of land off Brookside Road.
“In 1985 this area was all cornfields,” Vinovskis noted. “None of these neighborhoods were here....I was told there was just nothing.”
After 20 months of construction the members finally had a place they could call home and a service of consecration was held Dec. 23, 1990.
“What was interesting was that as they (the members) started this mission – there was just a handful of people – the mother church started to hold fundraisers, they started praying and also the mother church started growing again. Which is really cool. They had a purpose and they had a mission,” Vinovskis said.
The construction of the church was also a labor of love for the congregation’s members, according to Vinovskis. During the building process, the majority of the inside furnishings of the sanctuary were created by some of the members themselves in the make-shift carpentry shop of John Daniel.
“They were truly invested in this church,” Vinovskis said.
Supported by a three-year, $90,000 missions grant from the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, or SELC, district of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the congregation was able to hire Vinovskis, who started in Feb. 2001. After that, financially the church was on its own. While it wasn’t always easy, the congregation made it.
“It was sink or swim and we swam!” the pastor says today. “We grew about a third each year so we went from about 40 to about 100 in three years. Our stewardship went up as well.”
The pastor says with the blessings of the Holy Spirit, the congregation and school grew to the point the facility was expanded. In 2012, the congregation added 11,000 square feet of ministry space to the existing 7,000 square foot structure. Then four years later, Concordia added a new narthex, office suite, meeting and music rooms and preschool and Sunday school classrooms.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN CHURCH ESSENTIALS
Address: 2633 Brookside Road, Lower Macungie Township
Services: 8 and 10:45 a.m. Sundays
Faith, Denomination: Christian, Lutheran (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod)