Our History

August 24, 1977 - Pastor Edwin Schmelzer of Remus informs the WELS Michigan District Mission Board of interested families living in the Big Rapids area.

November, 1977 - An exploratory meeting is held by Pastor Schmelzer in the stock room of Ilene Industries, Big Rapids. A group of four families attends -- John & Janice Smith; Dewain & Sharon Walz; Alvah & Diane Lintemuth; and Raymond & Virginia Robitaille.  

November 20, 1977 - The first WELS service is held in Big Rapids. Services are led by Pastor Schmelzer on Sunday evenings at 7:30, with Sunday School at 6:30. A corner of the Ilene Industries factory, owned by John Smith and Raymond Robataille, is transformed into a church. An altar is donated from another church. A small organ is donated. The Remus and Broomfield WELS churches each donate old hymnals and folding chairs. Dividers are purchased with donation money and initial offerings. Through advertisements and word-of-mouth, each Sunday more and more people attend. And by the grace of God, a church is started.

September, 1978 - A group of about 20-25 members gather to adopt a constitution for Redeemer Lutheran Church (RLC) of Big Rapids, Michigan. Mission status is applied for the church, and granted by WELS.

December 21, 1978 - Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church is incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan.

January 28, 1979 - First child is baptized at RLC.

July 1, 1979 - First adults are confirmed and the first adult is baptized at RLC.

July 15, 1979 - John Brenner is installed as the first resident pastor of RLC.

May 18, 1980 - First youth is confirmed at RLC.

July, 1981 - A three acre site is purchased south of Big Rapids on Northland Drive for $15,000.

1981-1982 - An initial church building is erected on the site for about $127,000. This initial Worship/Education/Fellowship (WEF) building is designed to meet all RLC needs at first, then to be used as an education fellowship wing when a sanctuary is added.

December 5, 1982 - Last service in the Ilene Industries building, which served as the RLC worship facility for over five years.

December 12, 1982 - First service is held in the new WEF building.

June 26, 1983 - Service of dedication of the WEF church building.

July, 1983 - First RLC Vacation Bible School is held.

1983 - RLC Campus Ministry is established for Ferris State University in Big Rapids.

1984 - Church parsonage is built.

1985 - Pastor Brenner receives a call to Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) in Saginaw. RLC is served by tutors from MLS and vacancy pastor Cary Grant.

1987 - Pastor John Schroeder is assigned from WELS Seminary, and ordained/installed as RLC pastor.

November, 1989 - Pastor Schroeder receives a call to Olivia, Minnesota. Pastor Michael Biedenbender of Faith Lutheran, Mount Pleasant serves as vacancy pastor.

1990 - Pastor Lloyd Schlomer is called, accepts, and is installed at RLC.

1991 - Seasonal hanging banners are constructed and hung on the WEF walls.

1995 - Pastor Schlomer is called to Moorhead, Minnesota. Pastor Biedenbender again serves as vacancy pastor.

1995 - Pastor Biedenbender agrees to serve as remote pastor for RLC, while continuing to serve as pastor in Mount Pleasant. RLC and Faith Lutheran agree to jointly call WELS Seminary vicars yearly, who will reside at the RLC parsonage.

1995-1996 - Vicar Dan Schmidt.

August 1996 - First RLC booth at the Mecosta County Fair.

1996-1997 - Vicar John Ehlers.

1997 - Stained glass hangings are added to the south wall windows.

1997-1998 - Vicar Michael Hartman.

1998-1999 - Vicar Ron Gusman.

1999-2000 - Vicar Paul Schulz.

February, 2000 - The District Mission Board approves construction of a new sanctuary as an addition to the initial church WEF building.

August, 2000 - Ground-breaking is held for the new sanctuary addition.

2000-2001 - Vicar Wayne Halldorson.

April, 2001 - Construction of the new sanctuary addition is completed, and the first service is held in it on Palm Sunday.

May 20, 2001 - Service of dedication for the new RLC sanctuary.

2001-2002 - Vicar Pat Brown.

September, 2001 - The kitchen is enlarged, and 3 Sunday School rooms are added.

2002-2003 - Vicar John Meyer.

2003-2004 - Vicar James Hoogervorst.

September 7, 2003 - The RLC 25th Anniversary is celebrated, with Pastor Brenner delivering the message.

2004-2005 - Vicar Christopher Sand.

2005-2006 - Vicar Scott Bergemann.

2006-2007 - Vicar Seth Dorn.

2007-2008 - Vicar Kurt Hagen.

2008-2009 - Vicar Joel Kluender.

May 22, 2009 - RLC creates an email account at redeemerlutheranbr@gmail.com.

2009-2010 - Vicar Colin Rieke.

June 13, 2010 - RLC creates a website at www.redeemerlutheranbr.com.

July, 2010 - RLC and Faith Lutheran celebrate Pastor Biendenbender's 25th year in the ministry.

2010-2011 - Vicar Luke Tembreull.

May, 2011 - Tim Denney is assigned from WELS Seminary to be pastor at RLC.

August 14, 2011 - Pastor Tim Denney is ordained and installed at RLC.

June, 2014 - Hymnsoft Player software is acquired for worship service music.

2015 - New metal roof is put on the church building. Church sanctuary is renovated with new pews, sound system, south exit doors, and window treatments.

February 21, 2016 - RLC creates a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/redeemerlutheranbr.

November, 2017 - Pastor Denney accepts a call to Duluth, Minnesota. Pastor Jeffrey Sonntag serves as vacancy pastor.

February, 2018 - Pastor Jeffrey Weber accepts a call to serve as pastor at RLC.

April, 2018 - Major renovations are completed in the RLC parsonage interior.

April 22, 2018 - Pastor Jeffrey Weber is installed at RLC.

June, 2018 - RLC adds monthly online Newsletters to its website.

September 23, 2018 - The RLC 40th Anniversary is celebrated, with Pastor Biedenbender delivering the message.

October, 2018 - A video projection system is installed in the church sanctuary to display the worship service and Bible readings, in addition to the worship folder.

November 23, 2019 - First RLC float entry in the Big Rapids Festival of Lights Parade, entitled "God's Gift".

March 18, 2020 - RLC starts live streaming its worship services on its Facebook video page:  www.facebook.com/redeemerlutheranbr/videos.

2020-2022 - Online Worship Service Folders, Sermons, and Bible Studies are added to the RLC website.

2022 - Stained glass windows are added to the church sanctuary and narthex. [Redeemer Lutheran Church members hand-make stained glass windows (bigrapidsnews.com)]

September 25, 2022 - Service of Thanksgiving/Dedication for improvements completed in the church building interior.  Worship Folder - Video - Sermon Text - Symbol Booklet