In October 1922, the brotherhoods of Augsburg and Glenwood Lutheran Churches made a preliminary survey of the community called Wernert’s Corners with the view of establishing a new mission. A tract of land bounded by Laskey and Tremainsville Roads was purchased, and, with the help of Augsburg Lutheran, a small, portable chapel was moved to the new site.
The first service was held on Sunday, February 4, 1923, with 53 people in attendance. On February 8th, the congregation was organized, with 29 charter members. In November 1923, the congregation was incorporated as “The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation”. The Rev. W. E. Bradley was called to serve as the 1st pastor of Reformation, and Olivet Lutheran Church. Reformation, at that time, was a part of the United Lutheran Church of America.
In 1925 Pastor Bradley resigned and The Rev. Thomas F. Weiscotten accepted Reformation’s call, and served until September 1927. The Board of American Missions called The Rev. Rufus W. Rings, who served until February 1936. A call was then placed to a senior at Hamma Divinity School, W. Hackenburg, who assumed the role of full-time pastor upon his graduation and ordination, and served until July 1938.
Reformation’s 5th pastor, The Rev. J. William Wahl, began that same year. In the 15 years since the church had begun serving the area, the congregation, and the surrounding community, had begun to grow. A decision was made to purchase a large tract of farmland, fronting on Douglas Road, in 1940. Two lots facing Castleton Avenue and three lots facing Douglas Road were purchased in August of that year for $3,750.00. Architectural plans were drawn up, based on visitations to many local churches. Due to the economic conditions in the United States, funding to build the new church was hard to come by, and it was necessary to receive special written permission. However, with the help of the local Lutheran Church Extension Society, the Board of American Mission and the pledges from the members of the congregation, building was able to proceed. Ground was broken, despite advice to the contrary (due to the U.S. involvement in WWII), in April 1942, and the new building was dedicated in November 1942. Membership grew rapidly and plans began for a new educational unit to house the Sunday School and parish work. The new wing was completed in time to celebrate Reformation’s 25th anniversary, February 1, 1948. Pastor Wahl served the congregation through all its growing pains and expansions.
In 1951, as call was placed to and accepted by The Rev. G. Paul Lottich, after Pastor Wahl left to serve on the Board of Parish Education in Philadelphia. A new problem arose with Pastor Lottich’s acceptance–the need for a parsonage. In February 1951 the property at 2246 Charlestown was purchased for $13,750.00. Pastor Lottich served until 1953.
In 1954, the Rev. Paul Bucholtz was installed as pastor of Reformation. During his tenure, growth in the congregation continued. Pastor Bucholtz left to accept another call in 1959. Again, Reformation was without a full-time pastor. The Rev. Walter Ebert, D.D. faithfully served as an interim pastor, until 1960. During this time, in anticipation of further expansion, additional lots were purchased, and one of the houses was renovated by members of the church and was used as the general office and Sunday School. In 1960, the parsonage on Charlestown was sold and a new parsonage was purchased at 2656 Castleton. During this time Reformation became a part of the Lutheran Church in America.
In November 1960, Dr. Ebert accepted the position of visitation pastor, and The Rev. J. Edward Dinkel was installed as the full-time pastor. In 1960 plans were made for a new church, educational building and a fellowship hall. Due to funding only the new church and education building were begun. In May 1961, the new, and current, church and educational wing were completed.
In 1981, The Rev. Nicholas K. Mays was called to serve as Associate Pastor. He served in this position until Pastor Dinkel retired in June 1984. A call was extended and accepted by Pastor Mays to become the Senior Pastor in December 1984. In 1987, Reformation added a visitation pastor, The Rev. Fred Matchinski, who served until his retirement in 1997. In 1988, Reformation became part of the newly formed Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), in the Northwestern Ohio Synod. It remains part of the ELCA today.
In 1991 the congregation began to raise funds to build the fellowship hall that had been put off in 1961. This project would require the demolition of the church built in the 1940’s. The Altar, Communion Rail, Pulpit and Pews from the original building were removed and placed in the new Faith Chapel area. The new wing was dedicated in April 1994.
Dr. Mays left Reformation in 1997. The Rev. Harold Buenting was placed as Interim Pastor at that time. In 1998, a called was extended and accepted by The Rev. Roger M. Giese. During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, church membership began to decline, as did many of the churches in the area. People began a gradual trend towards the more modern churches. Established denominations of all types (for example, Catholic and Protestant) began shrinking. Pastor Giese served the congregation until 2003 when he left for a call to another congregation.
From 2003 to 2005, Reformation had two interim pastors, Rev. Dennis Lauman and Rev. Tom Wilson. During this time frame, Reformation and Bethany Lutheran Church began sharing a pastor due to financial circumstances. Our service time was changed to 9:00 a.m., and Bethany changed theirs to 10:45 a.m., to give the pastor a change to get from one church to the next without having to run. The two churches have been in this type of arrangement to the current time.
After a long search, with Bethany and Reformation working together to call a pastor, the Rev. Jason Tyas was called and began serving in 2005. Pastor Tyas was a young, energetic pastor who helped the two congregations to begin being better evangelists in our communities. Several new programs were begun; some of which failed, while some became regular parts of the church. Pastor Tyas left the congregation to pursue a new career.
Once again Reformation, and Bethany, found itself without a pastor. The Northwest Ohio Synod (NWOS) of the ELCA assigned Rev. Stephen Bull as Interim Pastor. Pastor Bull served both congregations for two years. During this time another Call Committee was formed and began the process of finding a new pastor. After many hours of searching, interviewing and congregational meetings, it was decided to extend a call to Rev. Stacy Lauer-Scovanner, which she accepted.
Pastor Stacy began serving as the first female pastor of either church in 2011. Pastor Stacy had just recently graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary. She was ordained in her home church in Gibsonburg Ohio and then began as pastor for Reformation and Bethany. Our churches became what is known as teaching churches. She was another very young and very energetic pastor, who helped the churches grow even further in their commitment spread the Good News of Christ to the community. While the normal term of a pastor at a teaching church is 3 years, Pastor Stacy was with us for 5 years. She left in the fall of 2016 to begin serving a new congregation in Sandusky Ohio.
After Pastor Lauer-Scovanner left, Bethany and Reformation decided that, rather than have an Interim Pastor installed, they would begin having guest pastors each week. A call committee was again formed, but NWOS stepped in, offering the congregations a pastor who hadn’t been an active preacher for a few years as an Interim, with the hope that he would eventually be called as permanent pastor.
So, beginning in May 2017, the Rev. Thomas Schaeffer began as Interim Pastor. In October of that same year, the congregation decided to offer Pastor Schaeffer what the NWOS termed a “3 Year Call with a Plan”. Pastor Schaeffer is currently the pastor at both churches, as well as the co-owner of the Black Cloister Brewing Company, on Monroe Street in Toledo.
Today, in 2018, Reformation is still here. While our congregation is aging, new members are coming in, more members of the congregation are becoming involved in our many Evangelism and Outreach programs and, we look forward to many more years serving the area. We would love to have you visit us. Our congregation is considered a family, and all are welcome into this family and to learn of the Grace we receive from God through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
TO BE CONTINUED
In January 2019 an entirely new chapter in the life of this church will begin. Reformation and Bethany Lutheran Churches have voted to come together and become one, new church.