In the fall of 1898, a group of German Lutherans living in and near the young and growing town of Woodburn, Indiana decided to obtain their release form Zion Lutheran Church of Bull Rapids in order to organize a congregation to be located in Woodburn. These early leaders were concerned about Lutherans moving into this territory who were not able to be reached by surrounding Lutheran congregations; the only transportation at the time was by horse, walking, or train. On November 28, 1898, the constitution for the new church was signed by six men who were gathered in the home to Otto Knoblauch under the guidance of Pastor Stock of Martini Lutheran Church near New Haven. The additional founders were: Christ Schaper, Christ Rosener, F.C. Fahlsing, Ferdinand Waltke, and Carl Schaper.
At the first regular meeting, held in the home of Otto Knoblauch on December 3, 1898, it was decided to call the Rev. W. Meinzen, pastor at Bull Rapids, to serve the new congregation as well as Zion of Bull Rapids. In this meeting it was also decided to have services on Sunday afternoon, to send the children to the school at Bull Rapids, and to hold the services in the home of Christ Rosener.
Plans were immediately begun, however, to build a house of worship. In the meeting on June 18, 1899, it was decided to call a candidate as full-time pastor and on August 27, 1899, the congregation was able to dedicate its new church (which cost $1,420.13) and at the same time to install its own pastor, the Rev. O.Henkel. He was installed in the afternoon by Pastor Stock. In the evening a special English service was held, with the Reverend C.F.W. Meyer of Fort Wayne preaching.
As membership increased from the original six families, the physical facilities of the church required expansion. A 1946 resolution authorized the request for blueprints of a new church building. The first church had served the needs well for 47 years. The resulting structure was construction with Lannon stone for the sum of $125,000. It was dedicated on April 15, 1951. An Allen 602 Computer organ was installed in 1974. The organ was dedicated on April 21, 1974 during a 3:00 p.m. service. In 1980, Christ Lutheran remodeled the entire front wall of the chancel in rich wood tones and oak finish, raising the gothic arch design to nearly the height of the ceiling proper. A spacious parking lot was added in the summer of 1980, after removing the parsonage and teacherage from the property. A complete new sound system was added. On May 24, 1987, a new Schulmerich Magna-Bell Carrillon system was dedicated to the glory of God. Its beautiful chimes ring out the melodious hymns of the church twice daily.
The members of Christ Lutheran Church have always placed a high value on the spiritual, as well as academic, instruction of its children. Toward this end the congregation began Christ Lutheran School in a small building donated by Otto Knoblauch, and taught by Messman and Carl Knoblauch. The next year the congregation built a school, located between the church and the parsonage, which was dedicated on September 2, 1900. In 1915, the frame school building was moved from the church lot to a lot on Elm Street, south of Main Street and it was enlarged by a sixteen-foot addition to the back. In 1940, the building was remodeled once more, adding a basement. Up to this time Christ Lutheran had been a one-room, one teacher school, but the enrollment increased steadily and it became necessary to have two teachers.
In the spring of 1952, special committees from Christ and Zion congregations were appointed to confer and discuss the advisability of the consolidation of their respective schools. As a first step toward a possible consolidation, the seventh and eight grades of Zion were transferred to Christ school in the fall of 1952. However, in January, 1945, both congregations resolved upon a full consolidation, using their respective school facilities. The committees were instructed to draw up and propose a suitable constitution by both congregations, the Lutheran School Association of Woodburn, Indiana, Inc. was organized on April 4, 1954.
Since more classrooms were required than were available at the time, the association immediately purchased the property at the northeast corner of Main Street and State Road 101. They converted this Quonset-type building into a two-classroom school and installed a kitchen. In the fall of 1954, the consolidated school opened with an enrollment of 175 pupils. The brick portion facing Woodburn road; was dedicated on August 7, 1966.
A school addition was dedicated on May 17, 1992. Included in this addition are the following: a gymnasium, offices, computer laboratory, library, pre-school and kindergarten classrooms, cafeteria and kitchen, locker rooms and rest rooms.
Various organizations were begun over the years to aid the spiritual growth of the members of Christ Lutheran congregation and to provide opportunity for service and fellowship. The Sunday School was organized September 30, 1945 and now the various classrooms meet in the church basement. Christ Lutheran Ladies' Aid was organized September 4, 1920. The objects of this organization were: to afford the ladies of the church an opportunity to further their knowledge of the Bible, to further the cause of Christ's Kingdom at home and abroad, and to further Christian fellowship. The name of the organization was changed in 1981 to Christ Lutheran Women. Various services of this organization include: serving funeral lunches, visiting the sick and shut-ins, serving on the Alter guild, sewing quilts, and collecting food for the seminary in Ft. Wayne. The organization is a member of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and saves mites for many mission projects. Also through the effort of Mrs. Hilda Roemke and other women in 1973, many ladies joined the Federation of Lutheran Women to further serve as an outreach to others especially confined to nursing care facilities. Christ Lutheran Walther League joined the International Walther League of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on November 14, 1928. Their objectives were: providing a Christ-centered program of Christian growth and service for port-confirmation youth, to make it possible for them to meet together, to work together, and to play together. Later the name of the organization was changed to Christ Lutheran Youth. An Adult Choir provides opportunity for the congregation to worship the Lord. And the children of the school frequently testify to their faith at church services also with Christ-centered singing.
In order to provide additional opportunity for the members to grow in Bible knowledge and faith, various Bible study groups were organized and taught.
In May of 1997 the slogan, "Together in Christ" was adopted. This slogan would be the central theme for the 100 year anniversary celebration of Christ Lutheran Church during 1998. "Together in Christ" slogan means, together in Christ, the Lord and together in Christ, the congregation. The "Together in Christ" theme would be used to support an ambitious building program.
Architectural drawing and plans were presented and approved in February 2001. The contract was awarded to Hoeppner Construction Company. By October of 2002, the new addition and renovations were completed.
Total cost for the renovation was $1,046,000.00 which includes the Gundy property purchase, $95,000.00 of volunteer labor, and $150,000.00 from the Lutheran Foundation. (Remember the original church cost $125,000.00).
The new addition added 6,114 sq. ft. to the existing church. The renovations included a new nursery, new restrooms upstairs and downstairs, new offices for the pastor and secretary, new kitchen and a beautiful new narthex. To accommodate the handicap, a ramp was built on the west side of the church and an elevator was installed for those entering the new north entrance. New carpeting downstairs as well as beautiful new carpeting upstairs including the sanctuary enhanced the overall beauty of the church. Retractable partitions in the basement allow for individual Sunday School rooms or meeting areas, or can be opened to allow access for one large room. Paved parking lots on the West Side of Park St. and the north side of the church provide for amble parking. Perhaps the most welcomed addition is the enlarged narthex. The 1,215 sq. ft. allows the theme "Together in Christ" to be fulfilled. This attractive gathering allows Christian fellowship to grow and expand.
In June of 2003 Christ Lutheran Church became a Stephen Ministry congregation. The Stephen ministry program trains lay people to provide one-to-one Christian care giving to members of Christ and the community who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. The members of Christ Lutheran Church have been truly blessed because of the mission, vision and dedication of our forefathers.
The congregation voted in 2008 to upgrade the 1974 Allen 602 computer organ to a more modern digital organ. A Johannus digital organ was purchased and dedicated in February of 2009 in a special service played by Zachary Kohlmeier. The special service included a multi-piece brass ensemble, Christ Lutheran Choir, and guest vocal soloists. The previous Allen organ was moved to the home of Ben Borchelt.