Our Savior Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod dedicated to serving God in all that we do and seeking to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ with all whom we encounter, inside the walls of our church and out.
The beginnings of Our Savior Lutheran Church of Milford, Illinois may be traced to the end of the 1920s in Watseka. At that time the Lutheran Church in Watseka (ten miles north of Milford) shared with Our Savior Lutheran in Momence a “missionary at large”, the Reverend Daniel C. Hennig. In addition to ministering in the Watseka, Pastor Hennig also explored the ministry field in Milford in early 1931. A canvas of the area determined that there were 24 Lutheran families, 87 unchurched families, and 93 children not attending Sunday School.
Determining that the field was ripe for harvest, Pastor Hennig officiated over the first Lutheran worship service in Milford on June 21, 1931. The worship service, held in the Fireman’s Hall, had 28 people attend and 11 attend the first Sunday School classes. Pastor Hennig accepted another Call in August of 1931, but his successor, the Reverend Herbert A. Dick, served the congregation until 1935. With adoption of the constitution on February 6, 1932, Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church of Milford was officially organized in the LaHote Building in Milford with 60 baptized members. Nine voters were recognized as charter members. The first annual report was issued at the end of 1932 noting that Holy Communion would be celebrated on the third Sundays of February, June, August, and October, and on Christmas and Easter. A rather modest budget of $240 was adopted for 1933. Voters’ meetings were set for the second Sundays of January, May, September, and November.
Already by the mid-1930s, when the next pastor, Rev. Bruno Prange arrived, the congregation was in need of a permanent building as they now recorded a membership of 100 baptized and 47 communicants. In late 1937 the “Adair property” on West Jones Street was purchased for $775. Early bids for the building were rejected, but a more modest plan was accepted on July 25, 1938. The church architect from Chicago described the building as follows, “The church has a plan of the provincial church of the late Gothic period in Norman England….The four windows on the left side of the nave are symbolic of the four major prophets. The four windows on the right represent the four evangelists. The carved wood shield over the front entrance represents the sacred monogram ‘IHC’, which is a contraction of the Greek word meaning ‘Jesus’ from whom the church is named ‘Our Savior.” On October 16, 1938, the cornerstone was laid. Dedication of the new building was held on March, 1939, with Professor R.C. Neitzel of Concordia Seminary, Springfield, speaking. The final cost including the furnishings was $13,000. In order to encourage stewardship, the congregation conducted Every-Member-Visits each fall for the purpose of securing “pledges” for both local and mission use. These visits were continued regularly for about the first 20 years of the church’s history.
The third pastor was the Reverend William Timm. He served as “Candidate Assistant” from 1942-44 under the direction of Pastor Prange and was then ordained at Milford and served as full-time pastor until 1945. In 1945 the congregation voted to become self-supporting and also voted to purchase a parsonage at 507 Irving for $4,000.
The fourth and longest serving pastor was Reverend Paul E. Meyer, who was installed in 1945 and served until his death in 1959.
Following the death of Pastor Meyer in 1959, the Reverend Charles Knauft was called to be our fifth pastor. He served in Milford from 1960 to 1967. During his tenure the congregation went to two worship services and began to feel “growing pains.” Approved in late 1964, a building expansion called for enclosing the front entrance and adding to the sanctuary and basement, plus installation of a new heating system with duct work to accommodate future air conditioning. Bids were accepted in 1965 on the proposed project, which doubled the size of the church at a cost of $65,000. A new organ, chimes, altar, pulpit, and lectern were also installed before the church was rededicated on April 24, 1966. The note to pay for these improvements was liquidated 11 years later in 1977, almost six years ahead of schedule.
Following Pastor Knauft’s retirement, the congregation’s sixth pastor was the Reverend Howard Jording who served Our Savior from 1968 to 1970.
The seventh pastor was Pastor John Hobratschk. He was ordained and installed in Milford on January 10, 1971, and served until May 1972.
In 1973, Reverend Robert Hedtke accepted a Call to Our Savior and served until 1976. During Pastor Hedtke’s ministry, the congregation began the liquidation of the building expansion debt and saw the need for improvements in the church building and its furnishings. Some of this work included the purchase of a new desk, a storage shed behind the parsonage garage, mailboxes in the narthex, new hymnals and offering plates, and “room dividers’ for the Sunday School area.
From 1977 until 1982 Pastor Willis Schwichtenberg served as the shepherd of Our Savior Lutheran. In August 1982, he accepted a Call to Immanuel Lutheran in Freeport, Illinois.
Pastor Rodney Bloomquist from the Ash Grove Church served as vacancy pastor until Reverend David Bilgreen was installed in July 1983 as our tenth pastor. In 1986 the congregation began support of missionary Tim Heiney and the Ghana mission. This support was sustained until 2003 when Reverend Heiney retired from the mission field. Also in 1986 our congregation supported Christ the King Lutheran in Chicago with several exchange visits with the church. Other projects begun at that time were the support of Living Christ Mission in Otterbein, Indiana, and a video ministry to our shut-ins.
After Pastor Bilgreen accepted a call in 1990 to Cedar Hill Lutheran Church in Missouri, Pastor Wally Waite from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Hoopeston served as vacancy pastor until Pastor Raymond Harms was installed as our eleventh pastor in late 1991. In the spring of 1992, Our Savior Lutheran Church began the Word of Life Ministry, a live broadcast of the Sunday morning Divine Service on the local FM radio station, WGFA 94.1 FM. In March 2012, this ministry celebrated its 1,000th broadcast and continues by God’s grace to thrive. This ministry enables the faithful proclamation of God’s Law and Gospel to reach those as far away as Lafayette, IN, Chicago, IL, and Bloomington, IL. In April 1997, Pastor Harms chose to retire to his home area in Wisconsin. During the vacancy that followed, Pastor Wally Waite again served as the vacancy pastor with various pastors, including Pastor Krueger of Danville and Pastor Freudenberg of Peoria, assisting in pastoral duties.
In late December of 2000, Pastor Don Stuckwisch was installed as the twelfth pastor of Our Savior. In 2002, the congregation transferred to the Central Illinois District. In 2004, Pastor Waite served as vacancy pastor during the illness and eventual retirement of Pastor Stuckwisch.
In May of 2004, Pastor Jason Wagner was ordained and installed as the congregation’s thirteenth pastor. In December 2010, Pastor Wagner accepted a Call to High Ridge, MO.
On March 13, 2011 Reverend Karl Gibbs was ordained and installed as the fourteenth pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church. He served here until September 15, 2019, at which time he accepted a Call to serve as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Carrollton, MO.
On February 14, 2021, Pastor Doug Minton was installed as the fifteenth pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church.
By God’s grace, this congregation has prospered for over ninety years, never wavering in the faithful proclamation of God’s Word. We look forward to the future and pray that God’s blessings will continue to shower down upon us as we minister in His name in this wonderful community.