From the Office of Development and Alumni Relations
The History of Oak Cliff Lutheran
Oak Cliff Lutheran Church (OCL) in Dallas conducted its first church service on January 25, 1948 with 35 people attending. At the time there were no Lutheran churches in the southwestern portion of Dallas known as Oak Cliff. Members were formerly affiliated with the Central Lutheran Church (ELC), Dallas, under Pastor Olav Torvik. After World War II, there was an influx of workers from the Northern U.S. including many Lutherans settling in Oak Cliff. Central Lutheran Church sponsored an application for a Mission Church in Oak Cliff and it was approved in August, 1946. A call for a minister was answered by Pastor Erling H. Peterson who arrived New Year’s Eve 1947. At the time it was the tenth Lutheran Church in Dallas. A former mansion at 401 N. Rosemont Avenue was rented as both a church and parsonage and was purchased for $27,750 on February 19, 1948. On April 12, 1948, 28 members transferred from Central Lutheran Church. On May 30, 1948 the congregation made its first contribution of $45 to Clifton College, which eventually reemerged as Texas Lutheran College.
By November of 1953 the church membership had grown to 367 active members and the second pastor was installed, Rev. Martin T. Jenson. In early 1956 land was purchased at 2550 W. Illinois Avenue for $9,250 and on August 24, 1958 the first service was held in the new modern sanctuary designed by George L. Dahl Architects of Dallas. An education wing was later added. It was around that time that Oak Cliff Lutheran sponsored a mission loan in Bastrop, Texas that eventually became Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Members of Oak Cliff Lutheran attended TLC included Bob Tergerson ’74, Paul Schuster ’76, and Kurt Marez.
On June 2, 2013, Oak Cliff Lutheran Church held its last service under the direction of Rev. Merle Bolte, the last Pastor, after 65 years of service to the community. Records and history of OCL were archived at the Texas Lutheran University library and the church pipe organ was donated to a Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi. It is the wish of the former OCL members, that the legacy of Oak Cliff Lutheran Church continues in perpetuity and fund multiple scholarships including the Oak Cliff Lutheran Church of Dallas endowment at Texas Lutheran University.