History of the Martin Luther Church
On the First Advent Sunday in 1955, the Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded by German immigrants.
Pastor Eberhard W. Schwantes, who served the MLC for 35 years, expressed what the church meant to many: “For me, the congregation meant always also family, and therefore, a lasting bond and responsibility. The family that is under God’s word, grants protection against the outside world, it is a refuge where one is safe, where one finds community and comfort.”
There was very limited space in the United Church Bathurst Street, where the congregation started, so on June 1, 1957, the congregation moved to Redeemer Lutheran Church, Bloor St West at Keele St (Indian Road). In January 1959, Pastor Karl Wulf, MLC’s first pastor, changed to the First Lutheran Church, Bond St.
In February 1959, Pastor Otto Winter started in the MLC. With him, the congregation succeeded in purchasing its own building in Mimico (South Etobicoke), 2379 Lake Shore Boulevard West. On the 15th of April, 1962, MLC celebrated a first festive service in its church, after having done extensive renovation works. In autumn 1962, the new organ was consecrated.
In April 1964, Pastor Winter followed the call to serve in the German Seamen’s in New York. On June 7, 1964, Pastor E. W. Schwantes was installed by the synodical President, Rev. Dr. John H. Reble. The building in 5 Superior Avenue which was to serve as the day care building was purchased in 1969. The two-storey-extension with pastor’s office and meeting rooms was consecrated in June 1982. On October 18, 1992, the new, largely expanded main entrance was celebrated in a service, presided by Bishop Dr. W. Huras.
In December 2000, Pastor Stefan Wolf was installed, following a contract between MLC, Eastern Synod and EKD/Germany which had commissioned him. For the 50th anniversary in 2005, beautiful stained glass windows were installed, thanks to generous donations of many members. In August 2007, Pastor Alexander Mielke started to serve as pastor, commissioned by EKD as well.
Today, MLC has more than 400 members. For more than fourty years, we have been a bilingual Lutheran congregation, nowadays with church services in English at 9:45 a.m. and in German at 11:00 a.m. Once a month we conduct a Joint Service for celebrating the fellowship of both parts of our congregation. We support a sister congregation in Guarulhos/Sao Paulo, Brazil.
We have a radio devotion every Sunday in German on the multicultural radio station AM530. We have continually supported the food bank of the neighbouring Wesley Mimico United Church, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and other projects.
A great joy was the 40th anniversary of our Day Care Centre in June 2010, with Bishop Michael J. Pryse preaching. In 1970, a day care centre had been established on the initiative of Pastor Eberhard Schwantes in the adjacent building 5 Superior for 21 children. This was, from the very start, intended to be a social institution for the district of South-Etobicoke, as in the surrounding area of the church there lived numerous needy families and single parents.
The congregational members of the Martin-Luther-Church put forth much effort, time and again, with love and dedication. For many years, the meals for the children were cooked by the ladies of the church. Many craftsmen’s skills were needed for building alterations and extensions. In the year 2000, a considerable extension of the program took place.
Now, in close consultation with the city, a school age child care programs well as two preschool programs were introduced. Through alterations in the kitchen and sanitary facilities, as well as reorganizing and renting other rooms, the congregation created the basis for the realization of this project. Therefore, Martin Luther Church Day Care now offers 72 spaces in 4 groups for children aged 1 ½ to 12 years.
On the First Advent Sunday 2010, MLC was able to celebrate its 55th anniversary, with great thankfulness before God. For the future, we trust in the guidance of our gracious God, inviting every Sunday to celebrate our Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
It was the longstanding wish of the congregation to replace the pink-blue-yellow windows in the nave, which were not energy efficient, with stained glass windows.
In 2002 work was begun. A committee was formed by out church council and a design studio and manufacturer was chosen. “Red Dala Glassworks” from Alliston, Ontario with artists Lea and Ken Redmayne produced the windows and the Repla Windows and Doors, from Oakville, Ontario installed them. To protect the artists’ stained glass windows from breakage they were mounted and installed between two panes of clear break-proof glass.
Special thanks to the committee members: Sieghard Schmidt, Olaf Weigelin, Heinz Gutsch, Edmund Scholz, Horst Zimmer, and Hans-Joachim Arndt. Special thanks to those who donated the cost of the windows, the families and friends of congregational members.
Each window is represented by two symbols, respectively. All twenty of the windows (ten on the right side and ten on the left side) are connected with a white ribbon.
On the right side of the church nave west side, these ten windows depict our church liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Free Time, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, and, Trinity. They were inaugurated on October 5, 2003 in the Thanksgiving Day Service led by Pastor Stefan Wolf.
On the left side of the church nave east side , these ten windows depict our important symbols of faith: God / Father, Word of God, Christ, The Holy Sacraments, and, The Congregation. They were inaugurated on April 25, 2004, in a special service led by Pastor Stefan Wolf.
Explanations of the Symbols
Awaiting the birth of the Saviour
Symbol: Scroll with Old Testament prophecy regarding foretelling the birth of Jesus (Text: Isaiah 9,1)
Flower: Crocus = Joy and love (Text: 1. Corithians 13)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
The Birth of Jesus
Flower: Christ-rose = Hope
And the angel said to them, Be not afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people: for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savoir, who is Christ the Lord.
God appears in person
Flower: Carnations = Symbol of pure love
“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.”
4. Free Time
Period between major festivals during the church year
Symbol: Shepherd’s rod (Jesus the good shepherd)
Flower: Violet = Humility
I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me.
5. Palmsonntag / Palm Sunday
Jesus enters Jerusalem as King
Flower: Daffodils = Triumph of love over sin
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and other cut branches from the tree and spread them out on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
6. Maundy Thursday
Night of Jesus’ imprisonment
Symbol: Cross with crown of thorns
Flower: Dandelion = Triumph, Greens were decorated on Maundy Thursday
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple rob. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
7. Good Friday
Day of the Jesus‘ Death
Symbol: Cross with Inscription INRI which stems from the Latin phrase ‘Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum’ meaning ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’.
Flower: Rose = Triumph, Love, Markings of the wounds of Christ
1. Corinthians 1:23-24
But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.
Resurrection of Christ
Symbol: Lamb of God
Flower: Daisy = Innocence
Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and might and honor and glory blessing!”
God gives his Holy Spirit
Flower: Columbine (Akelei) = Symbolic Flower for the Holy Spirit
Acts 2: 3 & 4
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak.
One God and the three persons of the divinity, Father Son, and Holy Spirit
Symbol: Symbol of Trinity, interwoven lines with no endings
Flower: Lilly = Purity, Symbolic flower for the Trinity as such
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
11. Arche Noah/Noah’s Ark
God the Father
Topic: Repentance / God saves;
Corner: Olive branch – sign of hope
The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nin’eveh, Reho’both-Ir, Calah.
12. Hand of God
God the Father
Topic: God’s Hand = Creation
Corner: Tree = paradise and disobedience of mankind
And out of ground the Lord made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the
tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Topic: Mission; Shell as symbol for spreading the word of God;
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”
14. Alpha and Omega
Topic: The Holy Bible and the Christ Monogram;
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty
Alpha and omega which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet refers to “I am the alpha and the omega”, in the Book of Revelation “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6, 22:13) to mean that Jesus has existed for all eternity or that God is eternal.
15. Palm Branches
Christ – Son of God
Topic: Christ’s victory; Jesus enters Jerusalem;
Corner: Palm branch OR Crown?
So they took branches and palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna Blessed is who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
16. Christ Symbol/Chi-Ro
Christ – Son of God
Topic: Christ the vine – we, the branches; Christ’s Monogram; This Chi Rho symbol is derived from the first two letters of the word “Christos” (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ) in the Greek alphabet
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
17. Water and Dove
The Holy Sacraments
Corner Axe – according to the preaching of John the Baptist the symbol of judgement and decision
Even now the axe is laid to root of the trees: every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
18. Chalice and Bread
The Holy Sacraments
Topic: Holy Communion;
Corner: ear of corn, the many grains, but one body in Christ
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life: who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall not thirst.
19. Sail Boat
The Church – Community of Believers
Topic: The ‘ship’ congregation;
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
20. Praying Hands
The Church – Community of Believers
Corner: Serpent, symbol of temptation
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF God in Christ Jesus for you.
We, as Christians, are living stones and form the house of God. So as God’s building, we are living signs of his kindness. The congregation can truly be proud to have such beautiful windows.
The same artists designed and manufactured the stained glass cross at the entrance to the church which was completed in 2006. The inauguration service was held a few years later led by Pastor Alexander Mielke on September 11, 2009 together with the dedication of the donation plaque and the showcase sign outside our front doors.
A commemorative plaque was made with the inscription: In thankful recognition of the many donations for the colourful stained-glass windows in the church nave and entrance, [several names,] and in the memory all deceased congregational members. “My eyes have seen your salvation.” Luke 2:30.