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The Lutheran Church grew out of the Reformation in Europe in the 1500s. Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, sought to “reform” the Roman Catholic Church. In matters of faith he felt that the Bible should be our authority and not the teachings of the church. His ideas were not well received and he was excommunicated. The modern Lutheran Church holds to the authority of scripture. However, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) does not take the Bible “literally,” and recognizes that the bible needs to be interpreted. Although the church provides social statements on a variety of issues, these statements are not seen as “law,” so much as they are seen as guidelines.
Lutherans have two sacraments – sacred moments – which are sacraments because they are based on the command of Jesus from scripture. One sacrament is Baptism, as Jesus said to “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The other sacrament is Holy Communion, as Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.” All people in the church – pastors, engineers, business people, homemakers - are seen as equal in the sight of God. Pastors have a particular calling to serve the mission of the church, no different than those who serve the Lord in their callings in business and the home. The ELCA celebrates the marriages of pastors and will ordain women to be pastors.
Faith Lutheran Church was organized as a mission congregation of the Augustana Lutheran Church, and was the last congregation started by Augustana before the merger that produced the Lutheran Church in America, which is now part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The first worship service of the new congregation was held on November 4, 1962 in the basement assembly room of Pike School on Porter Road in Andover. Services were held at Pike for about a year until the building was sold. Phillips Academy in Andover then kindly provided the use of Peabody house on Sunday mornings and church holidays. The first church organ was assembled from a kit in eight weeks by the talented electronics engineers in the congregation. As one member commented when recalling the church’s early years, “We were not called ‘Faith’ for nothing!”
On December 1, 1963, Faith Lutheran was officially organized in the presence of Rev. Dr. O. Karl Olander, New England Synod President, and Rev. Hartland H. Gifford was installed as the first pastor. In April, 1964, the congregation purchased 3.4 acres of land located at 360 South Main Street, Andover for $14,000. The remainder of the present site, a 0.75 acre parcel at the corner of South Main and Wildwood Road containing an old house and barn, was purchased a year later for $13,500. Construction of the first church building began in January, 1967 and it was dedicated on September 10, 1967.
From its beginnings as a mission congregation organized by 34 charter members, Faith has grown to a thriving congregation serving more than 850 people who reside in Andover, North Andover, the greater Merrimack Valley and beyond.
A video of the church's history was prepared for the Building Expansion Dedication and Celebration in September 2012.