OP Lutheran Church History
Formally organized on January 14, 1951 with thirty adult members signing the constitution, OP Lutheran Church actually traces its roots back to the Spring of 1949 when a branch of the Sunday School of Salem Lutheran Church of Lenexa was organized to meet the needs of area residents. The Sunday School originally met at Overland Park grade school, later moving to a residence very near our current location. In March of 1950, the Mission Board of the American Lutheran Church’s Central District confirmed the definite need for a Lutheran Church in Overland Park and purchased our present church site.
In July of 1950, our first parsonage was purchased on a nearby property and remodeled into a sanctuary by a group of hard working men and women volunteers. The first service was held there in September with 40 people in attendance. With the official organizational meeting and constitution signing on January 14, 1951, Overland Park Lutheran Church officially began its ministry in, to, and with God’s people. Official ground breaking ceremonies were held for the first unit of the church on March 4, 1951 with its official dedication on December 9th, 1951.
Membership more than doubled within one year and by early 1954 the need for additional Sunday School room was readily apparent. With pledges more than doubling the estimated need, ground breaking occurred on August 29th, 1954 for the first addition. This second unit was dedicated on February 6, 1955, creating additional Sunday School facilities and a large social hall. Later that same year, in less than five years’ time, membership had reached over 500.
With membership continuing to grow, plans for the next phase were already underway less than five years later and the third unit was dedicated on October 1, 1961, with a new worship space, Sunday School room and other facilities. An annex was then purchased in 1964 for yet additional Sunday School space. Finally, on January 18, 1970, ground was broken with an underground blast of dynamite for the fourth unit. This was the final unit of a long range master plan envisioned nearly twenty years earlier. This unit was dedicated on March 21, 1971, and included the long awaited and present day sanctuary, as well as the narthex and library. On the exterior, this final phase also included our two most recognizable features to this day, the bell tower on the South side and ribbed wall featuring the words “Be My People and I will be Your God” on the East side.
Sadly, later that same year, one of the original visionaries and architect, Don Hollis along with his wife Leah, both part of the original Sunday school class and charter members, were tragically killed in a plane crash. The original worship space was renamed and dedicated as the Hollis Memorial Chapel in their memory in November of 1971. The original overflow room for the area now serves as our nursery and sits directly across from the sanctuary.