Athens Lutheran Church (ALC) began in late 1968 when some Lutheran families were transferred into the area with Westinghouse Electric along with a few other Athens families. They began holding services in Athens. They had been worshiping with the Cleveland church. The first services were held on Sunday evening at St. Paul’s Episcopal church. We were lucky to have an organist among those families and Pastor Rosen from Cleveland conducted the services. Sunday evening was not always a convenient time so it was decided to approach the Seventh Day Adventists about using their church on Sunday mornings as they did not use it then.
They agreed and services were held at 8 am with Sunday School following. Pastor Rosen again conducted services until he left Cleveland and was replaced by Pastor Halamka. The congregation continued to grow as did our community. Occasionally Pastor Helton from Alcoa, TN, who was not presently assigned a congregation would fill in at ALC. In 1975 ALC was officially formed and became a church in the Mid-South District. Pastor Helton was called to be our first Pastor.
Pastor Halamka again conducted services until we were able to call a seminary student in 1977. Pastor Montgomery became our Pastor in the summer of 1977. Land was purchased at an excellent location and a building program the culminated with moving into our new structure in June of 1980. Shortly after moving into our new building, Pastor Montgomery became ill. We struggled during this period because our Pastor could not always conduct services. He eventually resigned due to medical problems and died shortly after his resignation. Again we went through call process and called Pastor Jan Munch to serve at ALC in the summer of 1983.
Once again having a full time pastor, our attendance began to grow as former members returned and new members were added through our 13 week adult confirmation classes. New member classes were usually offered 3 times a year, and more often if required. Many times, our pastor held private classes for interested families or individuals.
By God’s grace, through the 80’s and the 90’s, the members of ALC supported LBT Missionaries and four members attended Seminary and ultimately became pastors in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. At our peak, in 2006, ALC had our second building project which church offices, fellowship area, parking lot and kitchen. Pastor Munch retired in 2007, and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, our congregation was led to choose a new young pastor from Seminary, Reverend, Jace Detrie. It is our hope, prayer and confidence, that through our new pastor Athens Lutheran Church will grow and begin to add more families and, by God’s grace, grow our Lord’s Kingdom.