History of the Martin Luther Church
On the First Advent Sunday in 1955, the Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church (MLC) 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 families in need 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.