Messiah Lutheran marks 50 years

Aspen Times Staff

Messiah Lutheran Church will host three nationally known speakers as the parish celebrates its 50th anniversary of worship in the coming weeks.The series of guest appearances begins Sunday at 9:30 a.m. with Dr. Paul Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. He is a best-selling author of fiction, including “A Skeleton in God’s Closet,” and the nonfiction, “Pontius Pilot: The Flames of Rome,” and has appeared frequently on national television and radio.Messiah Lutheran Church, tucked away at the end of Mountain View Drive in the Cemetery Lane neighborhood, was founded in 1954. Its first parishioners, 45 valley residents, attended the first service on Oct. 3, 1954. Rev. G.L. Oldsen, from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, conducted the service. The congregation met in the Kobey building in downtown Aspen until 1963, when it purchased the lot at the church’s present location. In 1964, a small Pan-Abode log chapel was erected on the site. Pastor Oldsen retired in 1981 and the church installed Pastor John Hirst as missionary at large.As Messiah’s congregation grew, plans were made for a larger building. Construction of the current church building began in 1985; members met in the former Charlemagne Restaurant in Aspen’s Flora Dora building until their new place of worship was finished in 1987.The log chapel was moved to Redstone, where it served as a church, until being moved to Marble where it is now in use as a private residence. This year’s 50th anniversary celebration has already been highlighted with the recent installation of Pastor Matt Switzer.Coming on the heels of Maier’s guest appearance this weekend, the church will host Dr. Oswald Hoffmann to preach on the actual anniversary date of Oct. 3. A brunch will follow the service.Hoffmann is known worldwide as the speaker of “The Lutheran Hour” radio program from 1955 to 1988. His dynamic speaking style earned him the “Clergyman of the Year” title in 1973 by Religious Heritage of America. In addition to speaking/preaching engagements, Hoffmann has authored various books and magazine articles, including his autobiography, “What More is There to Say But Amen.”Dr. Wallace Schultz will preach at the church on Nov. 21 and 28. He served as associate “Lutheran Hour” speaker from 1977 to 2002, has served on the faculty at Concordia College in Michigan and Illinois and participated in several World Congresses on Evangelism. In 1986, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his service to humanity.All of the services begin at 9:30 a.m. and the public is welcome. Call 925-7725 for more information.