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North Tonawanda, New York

36°

40° 34°

Partly Cloudy

Feels Like: 36°
Humidity: 92%
Wind: 2 MPH
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36 34
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34 29
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History
 In the 1890's, the Tonawanda's had several Lutheran churches, all of whose members were mostly first and second generation German immigrants. The language used in the services was German, and the people were very satisfied with this.  The congregations were therefore quite insular, with the church existing as an extension of the German culture.

     My grandfather, William R. Martin, along with a group of his friends, found themselves more comfortable worshipping in an English-speaking church.  These young people, ranging in age from about 17 to 25 years of age, would take the streetcar to Buffalo on Sundays to attend services conducted in English at Holy Trinity Church.  When greeted by the pastor as they left the sanctuary, they were asked where they lived, and they replied, "Tonawanda."  The Pastor inquired as to why they were not worshipping at their own parish, and they explained that they preferred English, as they did not use German as their everyday language anymore and did not feel comfortable with their local church.  Besides, they wanted to be able to invite their friends to church, and of course, that would be difficult if the friends did not speak German, as most Americans did not.

     The pastor of Holy Trinity Church paid a visit to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, and told him what was  happening to his young people. He offered to come to Tonawanda and conduct a service in the English language once a  month at Immanuel, to meet the needs of this group. His offer was refused and he was
angrily told, "Get out of my church!"

     With this, the pastor of Holy Trinity called a meeting of the 20 or so young people and recommended that they found their own church.  He offered to preach for them until they would be able to call a pastor.  They met at a storefront on Young Street in Tonawanda, and organized as a congregation. One of the young ladies suggested the name "Redeemer", and since women were not allowed to make motions at an official meeting, my grandfather made the motion, which was quickly passed. The date was February, 1897.

     The congregation met in the storefront for about a year, then moved to a little white church on Schenck Street. They joined the English District, because this was the mission arm of the Missouri Synod, and consisted of congregations dedicated to conducting services in English so they could evangelize and bring their friends and neighbors to Christ.

     Redeemer had several pastors in those early years, but none of them stayed very long.  A mission church is a real challenge to a pastor, and the Lord had not yet sent them a shepherd who was up to the task.  The congregation met and prayed earnestly for God to send such a man, and in 1919 Reverend Hugo G. Kleiner was installed as pastor.  He remained at Redeemer until his death in 1963. Under Pastor Kleiner's leadership, the fellowship grew, adding new families almost weekly.  In 1929, the building at Falconer and Thompson Streets was constructed, and Redeemer had a permanent home.  In 1953, the parish hall addition was completed, and we enjoyed new space for our Sunday School and fellowship activities.

     After Rev. Kleiner's death a new pastor, Rev. Robert Rose, was called. We purchased a parsonage, for unlike Rev. Kleiner who was a bachelor, Rev. Rose had a wife and family.  When he left, we called Rev. Donald Krompart, and when he left, we were extremely fortunate to have Rev. David Beutel accept our call.  He has served us faithfully for more than two decades.

     Redeemer has gone through many changes in the more than 100 years of its existence, but we still maintain our interest in serving the community and in outreach and mission work.  Just as our founders wished to conduct services that were relevant to the prevailing culture, we today have adopted a blended worship service that combines traditional hymns with more contemporary music.  We also have maintained the friendliness and closeness that characterized the congregation for
all of our history.  We are proud to be part of our community, and invite you to join us in worship and fellowship.

Janet B. Zehr, Congregational President