Brief History

Our Story in Brief

In 1929, a handful of Lutheran families from Fairview Village and North Olmsted met with a young pastor to plant a new church within easy distance of their homes. They called it Messiah, the Hebrew form of the word "Christ."

Ever since Messiah has been serving western Cuyahoga County as a place to worship God, to practice the Christian life, and, above all, to hear the good news of Jesus Christ communicated with clarity and conviction.

When World War II ended Messiah grew dramatically as returning soldiers married, established families, and found attractive, affordable housing in communities just west of the City of Cleveland. Over time it emerged as one of the largest and busiest Lutheran congregations in the Greater Cleveland area.

Today Messiah’s 1800 members come from Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Cleveland, and over 20 other communities. Together they touch lives from their own backyards and neighborhoods to communities in other states and overseas. Messiah's own church community is a rich mix of intergenerational families and single-person households, of toddlers and grandparents, teens and empty-nesters. Two of our older members were present as young girls at the congregation's first-ever worship service in September, 1929. Others started coming here in just the past 12 months.

Education plays a decisive role in Messiah’s life, with weekly opportunities for people of all ages to learn and grow in their grasp of the Christian faith and message. Recent years have seen an increased emphasis on music, mission, youth ministry and community outreach as areas in which to excel and serve the Lord.

Messiah established its own K-8 elementary school in 1954. Over the years the school has earned a strong reputation for affordable excellence, a reputation enhanced by the opening in early 2008 of new middle school classrooms and an Art & Science facility. A pre-school component for three- and four-year olds launched in the fall of 2011.

Our Connections to the Wider Church

Messiah began as a mission of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's English District. As it grew it started making significant contributions to the life and mission of the wider Lutheran Church, both locally and at a national level.

The Rev. Bertwin Frey, pastor of Messiah in the 1960's and 70's, served for a time as president of the English District, in effect carrying out two full-time ministries simultaneously without benefit of computer, email, or internet. In the 1970's, when controversy erupted in the Missouri Synod over the interpretation of Scripture and other grave issues, Messiah was one of about 500 congregations that withdrew to establish an independent organization called the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. That group merged in 1988 with two much larger church bodies to form today's Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) a church with four and a half million members in over 10,000 congregations across the U.S. and into the Caribbean.

Locally Messiah is affiliated with the ELCA's Northeastern Ohio Synod headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls. Within the synod Messiah is known for its strong commitment to faithful teaching and to mission outreach.

Messiah continues to enjoy working connections with many Missouri Synod congregations in our area. Several of these ties were established decades ago through joint participation in local Lutheran ministry organizations, chiefly the Cleveland Lutheran High School Association the Lutheran Home and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry. More recently Messiah has been working closely if informally with Building Hope in the City an independent urban mission agency launched in the early 2000's by Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS), West 30th Street, Cleveland.
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