HISTORY OF ABIDING SAVIOR
Our history begins with our founding pastor, Erich Hoefer. The excerpts (in italics) are from his resignation letter to the congregation in 1984. They include his historical perspective of Abiding Savior and set the stage for directing the eyes of our hearts to God and the leading by His Holy Spirit through our ensuing years.
Dear members in Christ: Dr. Gerhart Melchert, Pastor of Trinity in Waterloo… challenged me , to become a mission pastor… suggested that I should found a mission on the south side of the city… This mission grew and in 1944 they called me to be their full time pastor. …and was able to call Sister Sina Hestad as Parish worker.
[At a 1941 Bible Conference]… God gave to me so graciously and powerfully, an experience of a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus now, for 43 years, I was able to introduce prospective members-not just to the Lutheran Church, but first and primarily to the Lord Jesus Christ.
March of 1960… a call to found a fifth congregation in Tempe. We did not want to leave American of Tucson .. Yet the voice of God was clear.
On June 14th , with the thermometer beating down at 114 degrees, and the refrigeration not yet working, we [Erich, Marie and their 6 children] spent our first night at 115 E. Garfield. Within three weeks we had knocked on 1500 doors, and held our first service July 3rd, in the western Floor Covering showroom on Scottsdale Road [now NAPA Auto Parts), with 62 people attendance.
We broke ground in August 1960. Held our first service in September in what is now the Parish Hall [currently the offices and nursery], January 1961 we dedicated the first Sanctuary, which is now Hestad Hall, with 120 members. We did not need any more mission moneys, and praised the Lord for His grace to surround us once again with a people who were growing in personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Our fellowship hall is named after Sister Sina Hestad. Sister Sina served with Pastor Erich from 1942 to 1950, as Parish worker at Our Saviors Lutheran of Waterloo, Iowa. When called to Arizona, he asked her to come also. Her significant role in spiritual leadership was extremely unique for the times. Women lay assistants were not usually used, even though her training at that point had been equal or better than many theology students. Pastor Erich gave her a ministry which enhanced the church in Iowa and later in Arizona. She is well remembered for her flannel graph presentations in Sunday School.
“Asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all understanding, and spiritual wisdom. To lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, by giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saint in light.”
A church library was begun by Ruth Johnson, continued by Beth Pettys, Dorothy Pientka, Pat Ashurst, and Dee Kett.
In 1979 and 1980, Abiding Savior sponsored and welcomed two Cambodian refugee families.
In 1989, the Shepherds warehouse was conceived in the mind and heart of Mel Havick. The ministry was simply to provide food to those in need. It began in a small spare closet at church and developed into a much larger food, clothing, and furniture ministrybased in a house across the street from the church. Under the direction of Renate Blanchard, it continues to touch the lives with the visible, practical reality of God’s love.
For over thirty years, Abiding Savior was involved with Scottsdale Mobile Meals. Along with other churches in the area, meals were delivered to shut-ins. Joy Miller served as chairperson, providing faithful leadership by co-coordinating volunteers throughout that time. Abiding Savior continues the tradition with its 5 O’Clock Angels ministry, delivering meals during times of bereavement and illness.
PASTORS WHO HAVE SERVED
|Pastor Erich Hoefer||Senior Pastor||1960-1984|
|Pastor John Stake||Associate Pastor||1971-1974|
|Pastor James Hoefer||Associate Pastor||1974-1984|
|Harold Parks||Lay Minister||1976-1987|
|Pastor James Hoefer||Senior Pastor||1984-1987|
|Pastor Tom Ashbrook||Senior Pastor||1988-1993|
|Pastor Jim Schwartz||Senior Pastor||1994-2001|
|Pastor Shealds Smith||Senior Pastor||2002-2011|
|Pastor Gary P. Lissy||Senior Pastor||2012-…|