In 1952, Roy Gordon met with the Mission Board of the [then] American Lutheran Church to establish a congregation in San Clemente. Pastor Louis C. Smith began his call to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on June 14, 1953; the first church service was held in the Cliff Whetston building at 223 Avenida Del Mar. A Sunday school bus was used to pick students up and to serve as a classroom on Sunday mornings. All other meetings during the week were held in the people’s houses because the church space was rented for Sundays only.
A Home of Our Own
Some church officials thought that $28,000 was too costly to purchase the over 11 acres of land available on Avenida San Pablo at San Gabriel; but after much prayer and consideration, in 1954, the Home Mission Board of the ALC approved a loan to purchase the land. The parsonage was built in January of 1955; ground breaking for the church took place in June of 1955; and the first service was held in the church on December 18, 1955.
A Learning Experience
It was only after three years of being incorporated as a congregation that the first preschool opened its doors. Five years later, in the fall of 1961, the preschool ministry was expanded into an elementary school with the opening of Chapel Hill Lutheran School which later had its name changed to Our Savior’s Lutheran School. The school has enjoyed tremendous academic success and now serves the families of some of its earliest alumni.
A Worthy Investment
Some years later, over half of the land was sold to pay back the original loan and provide for expanding ministries of the congregation. That which remains is the nearly five acre campus and the distinctive chapel that sets like a jewel above the eighth tee of the San Clemente Municipal Golf Club, with a stunning view of Catalina and the Pacific Ocean below.
Serving God, Serving People
Although the view is impressive, it is the people who worship, learn and serve at this family oriented church that truly make the place special. Throughout its 50+ years, the people of Our Savior’s have sponsored refugee families, building projects in Mexico, various ministries, and missionary efforts throughout the world.
A History of Our Leadership
1953-1959 Rev. L. C. Smith
1959-1970 Rev. Paul Oas
1970-1979 Rev. Jerry Lund
1980-1985 Rev. Magnus Egge
1985-1993 Rev. Mark Huggenvik
1994-2001 Rev. Steve Gilbertson
2002- Rev. Jeff Frohner
Rev. E. H. Doerring served as visitation pastor in 1964
Rev. Don Brandt served as associate pastor from 1990-1993
Rev. Don Fisher served as interim pastor from 1993-1994
Rev. Mark Andrews served as student intern in 2000
Rev. Jim Shimota served as interim pastor from 2001-2002