Linden Lutheran Church
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
God loves everyone!

Pastors of Linden Lutheran Church:
The Rev. L. E. Mielke, the missionary
and first pastor, 1949-1982
The Rev. Dean Bright, 1984-1995 

The Rev. Don Rice Jr., 1996-99

The Rev. Darryl Larson, 2000-2008

Interim: The Rev. John D. Stroup, April - August 2008
The Rev. Dr. G. Karl Gaston, September 2008 -

Our History

     Linden Lutheran Church was founded in the fall of 1949 at 1230 Oakland Park Ave., Columbus, Ohio. It was sponsored by the Home Mission Committee of the Ohio District of the AmericanLutheranChurch, under the direction of the Reverend Carl E. Linder, DD. The new congregation extended a call to the Reverend L. E. Mielke to serve as the home missionary in the Linden area of Columbus.

     Pastor Mielke was born in Fremont, Ohio, and received a BA degree from Capital University in 1942. He married Maryjean Gillespie in 1945 and was graduated from Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, that year. He was ordained in Faith Lutheran Church, Detroit in 1945 and was sent as missionary to Pacific Palisades, Calif., where then he became pastor of PalisadesLutheranChurch from 1946 until his call to Linden.

     Pastor and Mrs. Mielke, and son, David, arrived in Columbus from California on October 24, 1949. Dr and Mrs. Alfred M. Wagner shared their home in Whitehall with the Mielkes until the week before Christmas when they moved into a new parsonage at 1710 Oakland Park Avenue. The purchase was made possible by the Ohio District Mission Committee.

     The nearby American Legion Hall on Cleveland Avenue was the first place of worship. The first service was held on Sunday afternoon, January 8, 1950 at 3:00 p.m.  with 60 persons present. Miss Maxine Schuchmann, graduate parish worker from WartburgCollege assisted Pastor Mielke for two months in canvassing the area.

     After a few months, larger facilities were needed, so Linden Party House, 1427 Oakland Park Avenue was rented. The first service at this location was held on Easter Sunday, 1950, with 63 present for Sunday school and 87 for worship services.

     Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 1950, was the day selected for the formal organization of LindenLutheranChurch. There were 35 charter members.

     During the winter of 1950 the present property of four and a quarter acres was purchased for the sum of $8,000. This site was to be the future home of LindenLutheranChurch.  The need for a permanent church became more evident each week as the membership increased. Ground was broken for the first unit of the church on Sunday, March 4, 1951 at 11:45 a.m. Prior to this, on January 21, 1951, Pastor Mielke was installed as pastor of the congregation.

     Again it was necessary to move, so Kenmore Nursery, 3009 Cleveland Avenue became the next place of worship on Palm Sunday, March 18, 1951.  Cornerstone laying for the first church building was held on Sunday, April 15, 1951, after the morning worship service.

     Formal dedication of the first church building was held on Sunday, September 9, 1951, the sixth anniversary of Pastor Mielke’s ordination. The educational wing was completed in 1953.  This unit included a chapel, pastor’s study, restrooms and one classroom. Confirmed membership of the congregation on this date was 86 members.

     May 24, 1953 was the date of the first children’s confirmation, when three young people were added to the confirmed membership.

     The congregation continued to grow at a steady pace until it again became evident that additional classroom space was needed for the Sunday School. This need resulted in the addition of a two-level educational wing, 20 by 49 feet in size. Dedication of this wing was held on December 13, 1953, at 7:30 p.m.

     Linden Lutheran Church ceased being a mission of the Ohio District when it became self-supporting on January 7, 1954. Membership at that time was 236 confirmed members.

     Again we outgrew our present facilities and it became necessary to begin holding two Sunday schools on October 23, 1955. Two worship services were held each week beginning on May 10, 1957. The first regular vesper service was held on October 4, 1959. The congregation realized that it was necessary to begin another building program to meet the increased needs, so in the fall of 1957 a three-year fund drive was launched.

     Groundbreaking services for the new church were held on Sunday, July 12, 1959 and the cornerstone laying took place on Sunday, October 25, 1959. The new church building was dedicated on September 11, 1960.

     The new church of light face brick and Oregon fir wood is of contemporary design and joins the other units at the west side of the narthex. The focal point at the entire structure is the unique 80-foot tower, built of the same light face brick as the church. The three triangular shaped columns represent the Triune God.

     The nave of the church seats approximately 450.  The interior is  brick and wood. The laminated arches are finished in oak stain while the remainder of the wood is finished in butternut. The upper level of the new structure also includes the sacristy, pastor’s study, church offices and the lounge.

     The lower level consists of a large assembly room for fellowship, which can be divided into 10 classrooms with folding partitions. You also will find the kitchen, heating room with incinerator and women’s and men’s restrooms on this level. An additional wing was added to the educational unit for three more classrooms.

     As we entered the new church the family of Linden Lutheran numbered over 1,400 baptized and over 600 confirmed members. We were thankful to God for the  growth of his kingdom in this community. We now remember the dedicated services of Pastor Mielke for his zealous work that expanded the congregation and led us to build an organization and church building which have served the community for a half century.

     Many times the church was filled to overflowing for special occasions such as Confirmations and Easter and Christmas services.

     Although the congregation raised large sums of money for the building, borrowing was necessary to finish it. A continuing drive was held to pay off the debt. Instead of taking the usual 30 years to retire the debt, the congregation held a mortgage burning on September 12, 1976, 16 years almost to the day after the dedication.

     There was more to come. In 1978, new pew cushions were added, a memorial to Effie Sharon.  The church has been a fertile ground for the Lutheran Church, producing five ordained ministers under the watchful eye of Pastor Mielke.  They include Pastor Ralph Wolfe, son of John and Lue Wolfe; Pastor Jerald Rayl, son of the late Theodore and Florence Rayl; Pastor Samuel Scheiderer, son of  the late Monford and Helen Scheiderer; Pastor Jonathan Mielke, son of Maryjean Mielke and the late Pastor Mielke; and Pastor Paul Michael Thomas, son of. Paul and Janice Thomas.

     Pastor Mielke retired in 1982 and after nearly two years with interim pastors, Pastor Dean Bright arrived in 1984.

     Pastor Bright was born Jan. 4, 1947 in Columbus, and was graduated from TexasLutheranCollege with a BA degree in 1970. He married Jo Ann Bower in 1973 and was graduated from Lutheran Seminary in Columbus with an M.Div degree in 1974. He was ordained that same year. He served St. Paul’s, Somerset, Ohio and Drum’s in Rushville 1974 to 1980 and St. Martin’s in Malvern 1980 to 1984.

     At Linden, he instituted the children’s sermon and was pastor when council issued bonds for several  improvements to the church building.  In 1986, an elevette was added to assist some of our older members to reach the upper and lower levels of the church from the parking lot entrance. Then, in 1990 the church celebrated its 40th anniversary and later that year purchased a new Allen Organ. It was put to good use at an organ recital in 1991 by organist Mr. Michael P. Pavone. It was followed by a reception.

     In 1993, a reception was held for Mrs. Rosemary Willey, who retired as organist after 43 years of service. 

     The improvements continued with the purchase of a new piano in 1993 and church office equipment was updated periodically. Pastor Bright left Linden in 1995.  New carpeting was installed in the sanctuary in 1996, soon followed by new drapes for the offices, purchased by the Linden Lutheran Church Women. New furniture was obtained for the adult lounge.

     The year 1996 saw the arrival of Pastor Don Rice Jr. He was born in Louisville, Ohio and was graduated from Ohio University with a BSC cum laude in 1975. He received his M.Div degree from Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 1984 where he served his first call as an instructor. He was pastor at St Paul LutheranChurch, Ironton, OH, from 1991 until his call to Linden.

     New furniture was obtained that year for the pastor’s office. With One Voice Hymnals were purchased from Memorial funds. A new sign was added that year as a memorial to Howard and Martha Zitzke.

     Pastor Rice revised the Linden Lutheran newsletter and for three years in a row received Synod awards for excellence.  In 1997 new windows were installed in the original building units, given by members of the congregation as memorials. The original chapel got a new roof in 1998. The same year, Carillon Chimes, given several years earlier by Mrs. Effie Sharon, were computerized. These chimes play twice a day during the week, each selection given by members of the congregation.

     The year 1998 saw the church opened to Head Start, a service to community children. Other church outreach projects included a home for meetings of AARP, Narcotics Anonymous for men and women, the Daffodil Society, a Stamp Club, the Lions’ Club Board and Huntington’s Disease Hoop-a-thon.

     Pastor Rice left to answer a call to join the Synod staff in 1999.  Interim pastors have served since his departure (see below) and efforts were begun to call a new pastor.  That call was completed in 2000 with the hiring of Rev. Darryl Larson, who served Linden faithfully until his call to St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Monticello, Iowa, in March, 2008.  In August 2008, after a short five-month call process, Rev. Dr. G. Karl Gaston accepted the call as Linden Lutheran Church's new pastor.

     In addition our recent interim, Rev. John D. Stroup, interim pastors who have served the congregation include:

     After Pastor Mielke retired: Dr. Max Culver; long term interim pastor; Pastor Dan Merz, short term interim pastor; Pastor Robert Gibson, short term interim pastor. After Pastor Bright left the congregation: Pastor John Cox, was a long term interim pastor. After Pastor Rice resigned to join Synod Staff: Gerald Anderson, short term interim pastor; and Pastor Reuben Mellum, long term interim pastor.  

     Several seminarians have assisted the pastor at Linden. They included Dave Daubert, Sharon Smith Huff, Jon Culp, Scott and Charlotte Anderson, Nancy Andrews, Paul Schafer, Lin Houck, Matt Young, Ted Kohl, Karl Johnson and, more recently, Nancy Raabe (who served as Music Director from 2007-2009) and Tim Jahn.