History-Old Central Pic-1889About-Weddings-page-sanctuary1
Central Lutheran, a Rich History in a Traditional Lutheran Setting   


Central Lutheran Church was organized as a mission church in 1925 by the District President of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, Rev. J.A. E. Naess. The congregation started as an English speaking church, breaking from its original Norwegian heritage of offering services in the Norwegian language. This shift to English was typical of many churches in the late teens and early 1920’s, as immigrant groups were melding into the larger English populace.

Central Lutheran’s first home was the ornate 1889 wooden church at 1001 South G Street in downtown Tacoma, originally built for the First Presbyterian Church. In 1954, Central’s congregation received orders from Pierce County to vacate the building for the new County-City Building which was to be constructed on the site. On March 6, 1955, the last service was held at the old church.

In November 1954, Central Lutheran purchased property in the Stadium district of the north end of Tacoma, still close to the downtown hub. The large, new brick structure was designed by noted architectural firm Lea, Pearson & Richards. The congregation, approximately 1,200 at that time, pledged funding for the new structure. In addition, many individual members contributed their time and expertise to the church’s construction. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on April 29, 1956, and the congregation moved into their new home on June 16, 1957. The building was formally dedicated on October 13, 1957, with a well-documented day highlighted by three services and a total reported attendance of 2,500.

A highlight of the church building is its large beautiful sanctuary with its remarkable stained glass windows, both traditional (moved from the original building) and contemporary (in the liturgical colors of reds, purples, blues, and golds). A huge haloed cross, 21 feet by 8 feet, adorns the chancel wall. The church’s impressive pipe organ was moved from the original church and enhanced and reconstructed by master organ builders Balcom and Vaughan of Seattle. Nationally known virtuoso Virgil Fox gave a public concert on this instrument in the 1950’s. The church also houses a nine-foot ebony grand piano, originally owned by the Temple Theater in Tacoma.

A distinctive exterior feature of the church is its seventy foot-high bell tower with its large lit rotating cross dominating the top of the structure. The original church building at 10th and G had a tower cross that was visible to incoming and outgoing ships on Commencement Bay. The new church replicated that idea in its new design. The cross is clearly a city landmark and visible from many areas of the city and surrounding waterways.


Central Lutheran Church

Pastors of Central Lutheran Church have included:

E. M. Hegge: 1931-1938
Parnell B. Hoff: 1938-1947
Roy E. Olson: 1947-1951
Jacob L. Redal (interim): 1951-1952
Rueben H. Redal: 1952-2006
Michael J. Adams (interim): 2006-2009
Erich Sokoloski: 2009-2013

John L. Redal: 2013 to present

In 2013, Rev. John Redal, son of Rev. Dr. Rueben H. Redal, was called
as senior pastor of Central Lutheran Church.

Central Lutheran joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) in 1952, which later merged with the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in 1960. In the late 1970’s, Central Lutheran left the ALC, believing that its teachings were becoming too liberal and straying from traditional biblical beliefs. The church was instrumental in forming the Conservative Lutheran Association (CLA), partnering with other Lutheran churches with the same stance.

Central Lutheran Church is currently a member of the Conservative Lutheran Association (CLA) and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).

Rev. Dr. Rueben Redal founded Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary in 1969, which continues to be a vital educational college and seminary in the Tacoma area. Dr. Michael Adams is its current president.