Early in 1968, pastors Kenneth Beachboard and Ed Birner saw a growing mission opportunity in South Laurel. With prayer and a desire to connect with people, they introduced a number of families to form the fellowship that would later become Our Savior Lutheran Church in June of 1969.
Initially operating a vibrant mission out of their homes, these mission pioneers laid the ground work for the congregation that exists today. A strong Sunday School was formed to teach children the faith from a very early age. A strong music program was established to allow the new mission to worship dynamically with choirs for children and adults. Choir robes and music were borrowed from area churches. Much was accomplished with very little, as the mission fully acknowledged God’s hand of provision.
Since installing Gary Rueter as the first full-time pastor in July 1972, Our Savior has been blessed with the leadership of many pastors and teachers. The ministries grew with the gifts of each over the years, and as these ministries grew, so did the need for space. The church that met in homes soon met in Deerfield Run and Montpelier Elementary Schools prior to moving to their first home in a steel building on Old Bowie Road. In 1974, the congregation had the vision to purchase property, and in 1978 built the first phase of the new campus on State Route 197, which gave them even greater visibility and opportunity to serve the community.
In the early 1980’s, Pastor David Kasischke started added a strong prayer ministry that has continued to grow, and with his wife Ann’s history as a missionary in India, a passion for international missions began with Bethania, a ministry in India to orphans and children born with disabilities.
In 1992, with a passion for worship and music arts, Pastor Mark Hricko led the effort to build a brand new sanctuary with plenty of room to grow. A contemporary service was added to compliment the traditional worship service. With Pastor Mark’s leadership and Pastor Greg Alm’s dedication to teaching, for a brief period, Our Savior became one of the fastest growing congregations in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
In 2001, the congregation’s love of youth blossomed under the leadership of Youth Director Natasha Bowlds, whose emphasis on worship, study, service and fellowship helped many young people to mature in their faith.
Building on the ground laid earlier for international mission, in 2003, Pastor Orlando Flahn from Liberia West Africa came to Our Savior, starting an international worship service and eventually working to found Gbuglay Lutheran School in Flahntown, Liberia. Today the congregation serves the Lord on regional, national, and international mission trips annually to places like Garrett County, Maryland, Montana, and Haiti, and regularly support full-time international missionaries.
In 2004, a new classroom wing with multi-purpose spaces was added to meet the growing need for ministry facilities. In 2005, under the leadership of Pastors Jon Diefenthaler, Michael Flannery and Peter DeMik, the Open Arms Christian Child Development Center ministry was begun following the success of the South Laurel Coop and the Our Savior Lutheran Preschool. When full, Open Arms ministers to 180 children and their families daily throughout the year.
In 2006, with the gifts of Music Director Marilyn Murchison, Youth Director Natasha Bowlds, and Director of Christian Outreach, the Wednesday Night Discipleship program began to help the congregation fellowship and grow together as disciples of Jesus with a fresh cooked meal, choir rehearsal opportunities and classes for people of all ages.
In 2016, Pastor Derrick Miliner brought his passion for people and the community, by working with a team of leaders to begin the Smiling Souls Foodbank through a partnership with the Capital Area Foodbank. Further ministries to those in need including New Day, and Wintershelter for both Men and Women developed to help our immediate neighbors.
Just after celebrating 50 years in ministry in 2019, Our Savior witnessed a Global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, re-inventing itself as an on-line church through live-streaming worship and on-line meetings, bible studies, and fellowship events. The once bustling hallways and classrooms were now still as both the church and the Open Arms Center were required to shut down in order to quarantine to prevent the spread of the deadly Corona Virus. Yet through the leadership of the existing staff, elders, Governance Board and newly called Associate Pastor Josh Hileman and Director of Church Ministries Hannah Gillrup, the ministry continued to thrive, strategically using new methods of media outreach to connect with members wherever they were.
While we await fully reopening and discovering what that looks like in the post-pandemic church, we can look back upon a rich history seeing God’s hand of provision at every step. We invite you to join us in writing the next chapter of history, following the spirit of Christ’s mission that has always been at the heart of this congregation, and make Jesus Christ known.