one church, many buildings
American Lutheran Church has grown from humble beginnings in a rented liquor store on Main Street, La Porte City in the early 1940s.
ALC was established as a mission church by the parishioners of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Jubilee north of La Porte City. Members of Jubilee, along with those of American Lutheran Church in Jesup, were instrumental in helping our new church assemble a meeting place. They helped build an altar with “red tapestry hangings,” and Jubilee loaned us an old pulpit. Seats from the town’s closed theater were purchased, which “required much sanding so the ladies would not snag their hose.”
Removal of much gum from the bottom of the seats also was noted. It was at this site that the church was officially chartered in 1944.
After two years in this initial church home, ALC worship was moved to the old theater in the Syndicate Block building on La Porte City’s Main Street. However, members found this setting dark and dreary, and in less than a year, worship was moved again in a sharing agreement with the United Brethren Church on the corner of Third and Walnut Streets. Sunday School was held in the basement of the Legion Hall at 301 Commercial Street.
This was a temporary arrangement, as ALC congregants had found it time to construct their own church building. On lot space donated by a local banker, ground was broken for the new church at 710 Bishop Avenue in September 1946, and the congregation officially moved in and began worship there in January 1948. During that same timeframe, the church purchased its first parsonage at 301 Walnut Street.
The church’s rapid growth through the 1950s necessitated two services and eventually led to the decision to plan for expansion on a larger property. The congregation purchased six adjoining lots from the “Merchant Estate” in 1959, which included a large home at the corner of Pine and Iowa Streets. This house was used initially as the parish hall and pastor’s study, then was remodeled to become the parsonage in 1962. The pastor and his family lived on the first two floors, and Sunday School was held in the basement.
Construction of the current church building began in June 1965, and the first service was held in July 1966, with official dedication of the building in August 1966. Interestingly, the church was without a pastor at this time, as the preceding pastor resigned in July 1966, and the new one was not installed until November 1966.
The congregation voted to demolish the Pine Street parsonage in 1984. Sunday School was moved to the basement of the new church. Without a parsonage, the church found it challenging to attract a new pastor, so the current parsonage at 609 Locust Street was purchased in 1988.
Recognizing the need for more space for the ever-growing congregation to accommodate Christian education, fellowship and church business, a capital campaign for a church expansion was launched in 2007. This project included expanding the fellowship hall; relocating and rebuilding the kitchen; adding Sunday School and multi-purpose rooms; building offices and work space for the pastor and church secretary; and constructing a covered, drive-up entrance on the west side of the church. Ground-breaking for this remodeling and addition project took place in April 2008, and the finished project was dedicated in April 2009.
Over the years, the church properties have been supported not only by the financial contributions to purchase and build them, but also by the tireless dedication of many individuals to repair, enhance and maintain them. We are truly blessed with a wonderful setting in which to practice our faith, share fellowship, and do God’s work.
alc's leaders in faith
American Lutheran Church has been blessed with the leadership of pastors who have overseen the growth of the congregation while working to help each member grow spiritually in the body of Christ.