Our History

Looking inward. Reaching outward.

Still becoming who we are: a community in the model of Christ.

A congregation is bound to change when it’s full of growing, changing people. And over the past fifteen years, a lot has changed at Our Redeemer’s. We’ve evolved to better live as a community in the model of Christ—a community that expresses God’s unconditional love.

This focus has challenged us to turn our beliefs into actions. To become a radically inclusive community. To serve our neighbors through active social justice ministries. To create ways for people of all ages and backgrounds to join us in worship, learning and fellowship.

Through all this change, cherished traditions and strong Lutheran roots have kept us grounded, renewed and committed to our vision. Keep reading to learn how our seventy-year history has shaped our community and the promise of acceptance, caring and hope we reaffirm year after year.

Our Story

Ballard beginnings


Our Redeemer’s has been a part of the Ballard community since 1944, when a small group of mostly Scandinavian immigrants began gathering to worship at Loyal Heights Elementary School.

Two years later, they were joined by Bethel Lutheran Congregation to become Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church. This new congregation began construction of a sanctuary—where our traditional worship service takes place today. More meeting and work spaces were added to the structure in 1952 and 1972.

Part of the neighborhood

From the beginning, we recognized our responsibility to serve our surrounding community. After World War II, the congregation provided shelter and jobs for immigrant families from war-torn European countries. We also helped establish Neighbors in Need, which later became the Ballard Food Bank.

Our Redeemer’s also provided land for one of the first City of Seattle P-Patch community gardens. The garden is still growing, still on our property and still lovingly tended by members of the Ballard community.

Building dialogue

Our Redeemer’s has a legacy of reaching out to people of different faiths. In the 1960s, our pastor, Oscar Rolander, joined Father William Treacy and Rabbi Raphael Levine on a weekly television show called The Challenge to discuss controversial topics from different religious perspectives.

We continue to encourage interfaith connections through events like a Muslim-Christian dialogue and a year-long Lutheranism and World Religions class. Our Redeemer’s middle-schoolers also visit and worship in other churches and faiths as part of their exploration of faith and spirituality.

Our Redeemer's Vision

In the model of Christ and for the life of the world,
we are an inclusive, devoted, caring and spiritual community that accepts challenges, takes risks and grows.

Looking ahead

In 2001, during an interim between pastors, declining attendance challenged Our Redeemer’s to take a deep look at its past and its future. Out of that shared reflection, we developed the new vision statement above, along with a new determination to translate it into reality.

When it came to finding a new pastor, the members of Our Redeemer’s knew they needed someone to help them step a bit outside of their comfort zones. They called Katherine Hawks, our first female pastor. She had the energy and creativity the congregation needed to make this new vision a reality.


Approaching our next steps with renewed intention, we set out to identify the changes

that would help us live in the model of Christ. In 2014, Our Redeemer’s developed a strategic plan focused on three main goals:

  • Deepening community.
  • Transformative spirituality.
  • Ministry-focused outreach.

Visit our FAQ page to read more about our strategic plan and the three objectives above.

As we look ahead to the next seventy years, we remain committed to asking questions, taking risks and working together to bring our values into our everyday lives. Learn how you can join us as we continue to Grow in Community, Grow in Spirit and Grow in Service.

Always changing. Always growing.