source- Pastor Nolan Gingrich, retired ALC
Background History of Ascension Lutheran Church (2011)
Martin Luther said, “Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is, and what faith is in him, unless he knew where his believers are?”
Ascension Lutheran Church (ALC) is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). The first worship service of this Christian group was conducted by Pastor Carl Jensen on October 13, 1968 in a mobile trailer. Within six months, 69 people organised as Nelson Evangelical Lutheran Church, part of the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada.” In October, 1971 the congregation broke ground in Rosemont and built a mission-style church. After a final service in the mobile trailer chapel March 5, 1972, worship began in the new building which was formally dedicated four years after the first worship service was held, October 15, 1972.
That building had two levels. The upper floor was mainly a worship space, but also provided meeting space and washrooms. The basement had a kitchen, a gathering area, and meeting-space. The access was limited by stairs to both levels.
Church membership has remained moderately small in the fifty years of the church’s existence. A series of short-term pastorates led to a decline in committed activity during the 1980’s and early ‘90’s. The result was unclear direction and a reduced sense of gifts to offer the Nelson community. However, in 1997, the congregation reorganised as Ascension Lutheran Church, formalising membership in the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada” (ELCIC). This new name, “Ascension,” challenged people to think theologically, not to be complacent about their Christian understanding.
Lutherans traditionally come from ethnic origins of Germanic and Scandinavian heritage. But Ascension Lutheran in Nelson grows increasingly eclectic, much like its neighbourhood. People of at least 17 varied ethnic backgrounds associate with Ascension. As a Reconciling in Christ church, ALC celebrates its diversity and sense of hospitality.
Since becoming Ascension Lutheran Church, the congregation has developed into a more progressive church, with a mission statement that is very much social-justice oriented and more theologically challenging:
“Ascension Lutheran Church is a community of Christians
empowered by the grace of God through Word and sacrament to do justice,
to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.”
At the beginning of the 21st Century, the ELCIC entered into formal Full Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada. In addition, Ascension Lutheran joins frequently in shared services with Nelson United Church. Such ecumenism is regarded as vital for the life of this congregation, encouraging life as partners. Renewed life has come from welcoming and including diverse people, and not being limited by ethnic, cultural, economic, gender, or political references.
As of June, 2011, the old building was readied for demolition in order to build a new facility on the same property in Rosemont. The second vision statement of Ascension Lutheran is, “We want to be a church for others, sharing our identity with integrity.” The new building is intended to offer the community at large a more accessible, useful gathering place for worship, arts, social, and education opportunities.
Luther once said, “Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.” Ascension Lutheran members strive to live in this hope as a church in mission for others.