Faith was started in 1948. A group of about 25 interested Hialeah residents met for their first worship service on April 18. The owners of Rose’s Liquor Store at Hialeah Drive and 6th Ave—Al and Val Rosethal—had graciously given permission for the group to use the empty warehouse space in the rear of their store. In those days of “blue laws,” no liquor store could open on Sunday, anyway. The leader of the worship service was Rev. George Schuster. He had come racing down Hialeah Drive from his own church, Bay Shore Lutheran, at Hialeah Drive and Biscayne Blvd. A policeman had stopped him for speeding, but when he realized the man’s mission, he let him go. From that Sunday on, they waved at each another as Pastor Schuster shot past.
The Bible verse that Rev. Schuster used for the group’s first sermon was Hebrews 11:1—“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” He challenged the group not only to be certain of God’s love by faith in Jesus Christ but also to look into the future by faith and “see” what God could do through them to help others in Hialeah. This how the church came to be named Faith. Two of its charter members are still with us: Elsie Degard (now in Phoenix, AZ) and Florence Simon.
The group grew. As it did, it had to change locations several times. Soon they were able to purchase a lot at the corner of Hialeah Drive and E. 3 Ave. Under the leadership of their first full-time pastor, Rev. Lawson Knight, they built a worship facility. Soon they added an educational building. This was a Sunday School project. It was bought brick-by-brick with the children’s offerings. By now the group had grown to several hundred. It had become a place of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, Bible studies, evangelism, youth group, potluck dinners, altar committee, ladies aid, men voters group, fellowship with sister congregations in the Miami area… all the things that mark an established congregation. What the original group had seen “by faith” had become a reality.
Pastor Knight was followed by Pastor John Kutz in 1957, then by Pastor Helmut Weichmann in 1959, whose rallying cry was “Debt Free By ’63—Build More in ’64.” This goal was reached: the congregation undertook a full-scale church building. The beautiful sanctuary was completed and dedicated in 1965. We still have the original 8 mm film of the whole process.
Five years later, their new pastor, Rev. Herman Glienke, a former missionary to Cuba, began an outreach to the changing neighborhood. The Cuban Revolution had caused the influx of hundreds of thousands of Cubans into the Miami area, changing the face of the city and making it attractive to other Hispanic nationalities too. Spanish worship services began at Faith in 1970. So did a vigorous Hispanic “vicarage” (internship) program in partnership with our Lutheran seminaries in St. Louis and Ft. Wayne. Gradually the complexion of Faith changed. It became, and remains, a mixture of Latin, Anglo, and other cultures. This was something the founders never envisioned. How could they have known Castro was coming? But by faith they knew God had someone in mind for their ministry.
The final block was put into place in 1975: Faith Lutheran School humbly opened with one grade and two students. Today it stretches from Pre-School to 8th Grade with about 120 students. Not only is a high quality education delivered at a low price, but countless children and families have been touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Some are moved to become members here, others are strengthened in commitment to their own churches, and still, others are in our prayers. The School remains our greatest evangelistic outreach.
At the retirement of Pastor Glienke in 1992, the congregation called Rev. Mark Wessling. The bilingual ministry of the congregation continues under his lead today. 50th and 60th anniversaries were celebrated and the church shows no signs of slowing down. Like its founders, today’s members are not only certain of God’s love by faith in Jesus Christ but look into the future by faith and “see” what God will continue to do through them to help others in Hialeah and beyond.
Our Basic Beliefs
The beliefs that we as a congregation preach, teach and profess are the same basic beliefs that all Lutheran Christians profess personally.
- The Bible is God’s Word, His inspired Book, our ultimate and final source of truth.
- God is “triune”: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three divine Persons as one divine Being.
- God created our world and the universe, just as described in the opening chapters of Genesis.
- Adam and Eve, father and mother of the human race, were tempted and sinned, plunging themselves and the world into guilt and death.
- God in His love and mercy promised them a Savior, who would be one of their descendants, and that Adam and Eve, through faith in this coming Savior, enjoyed the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, as did everyone else who believed in the coming Christ (Messiah).
- The 2nd Person of the Trinity, God the Son, became a true human being, sent by the Father, conceived by the Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
- As our Substitute or Representative, Jesus saved us /set us free / reunited us with God by living a perfect life and by dying on the Cross, suffering the physical and eternal punishment that each and every human being deserves, so that justice was done for all of us.
- Since Christ’s work is finished and perfect, we are saved by believing it. There is no decision that needs to be made; no prayer that needs to be said; no sacrifice that needs to be offered; no church that needs to be joined; no action that needs to be taken. God’s saving love is a gift, not a reward. A cornerstone of Lutheran belief is: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone. God’s grace (poured out on us in Christ) is more than enough to save; our faith (divinely created by the Good News of Christ) is more than enough to hold it; and the Bible is more than enough to reveal it.
- Baptism and Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper) are the two “sacraments”—in other words, (1) instituted by God Himself, (2) as a Promise to the recipient that he or she is saved, and (3) using a visible element in order to be as convincing as possible. On the basis of the Bible, Lutherans do not believe in age restrictions on Baptism but do believe that before a person begins to take Communion, he or she should be well instructed in basic Christian beliefs.
- Prayer can be done anywhere at any time and should be done in the name of Jesus Christ and in the knowledge that God has promised to answer, often in ways above and beyond all we ask or think.
- Those who die believing in Christ are immediately with Him forever (Heaven), and that those who die without faith in Christ are lost forever in an eternal, painful and just separation from God (Hell).
- The End of the World, Judgment Day, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Resurrection of the Dead are all one and the same event on the same day; that according to the Bible Christians will not be removed from this world (“raptured”) until that Day; that on the Day the bodies of all who have ever lived will rise physically from the dead to be rejoined with their souls, wherever they may be—eternal life or eternal death; and that the world and universe will undergo a permanent, eternal transformation from fallen to glorious as the final stage in God’s work.
These basic beliefs are officially expressed in a simple way in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. If you want a more thorough, technical expression, you will find it in the Book of Concord. Both are available from Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis at www.cph.org
What is Missouri Synod?
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is the organization to which Faith Lutheran Church belongs. The Missouri Synod began in the mid-1800’s as a group of 600 Lutherans from Germany who had settled in Missouri. By the grace of God, their organization has grown to about 3 million members with churches, missions, schools, hospitals and ministries all over the world. The Synod does not own or run the congregations. It exists to advise and to serve. Each congregation is autonomous, calling its own pastors and workers and deciding its own business through its Voters Assembly. The Synod is a voluntary association of about 6000 Lutheran congregations, united in the same set of beliefs and banded together to share the Word of God with everyone. Through the excellent colleges and seminaries managed by the Synod, new pastors, teachers, missionaries, deaconesses and other church workers are trained and made available to churches, schools and other entities. It is overall a happy and productive relationship. Conventions every three years give congregations the power to continue to determine the make-up and direction of the Synod. It is not a “top-down” organization but is run in a democratic fashion with elected officers, accountability and a balance of powers.
We believe that Baptism is a “sacrament”—a divinely ordained way in which God personally expresses His Promise of forgiveness and eternal life with something that can be touched and felt, to make it that much more powerful. It is a Promise that is valid for the rest of our life and is there to be believed and relied upon, especially in times of stress.
We do not believe that Baptism “automatically” saves a person, whether he believes or not. The person must believe. But Baptism also creates and inspires the very faith that is needed. So we have no age restrictions. God has no problem communicating with a baby He has created. John the Baptist jumped for joy and believed while he was still a fetus in his mother’s womb. Nor does God have a problem communicating through Baptism with an adult who is just as “dead in sins and trespasses” and spiritually helpless as an infant. The Bible teaches that all that is necessary is water, whether a little (pouring) or a lot (immersion) and that it be done in the name of the Triune God. Faith, like most Lutheran churches, uses a Baptismal Font or basin. The pastor applies a little water to the forehead of the person three times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. God is faithful and takes it from there.
We believe it is not necessary to be rebaptized when you grow older or change churches. One time is enough, and you are not baptized to belong to any particular church—you are baptized to be a Christian in the church of your choice.
If you would like to be baptized, call and speak with the pastor. When a child is baptized, usually sponsors (godparents) are chosen by the parents. The church provides the baptismal napkin, the baptismal candle and the baptismal certificate at no charge. Baptisms are free. A donation is welcome but not necessary.
Faith supports mission work around the world in several different ways. First of all, as a congregation, we give a monthly offering to our church body, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, which is passed on to missionaries for their work in Florida and around the globe. Secondly, our ladies group sends offerings to the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), which are used to start brand new missions both here and abroad. Thirdly, our School has a weekly Chapel Service, and student offerings given there are used to support mission work, sometimes local, sometimes international. Lastly, both as a Church and School, we respond to various mission requests and needs throughout the year. We have participated in Habitat for Humanity. We have done clean-up work for His House, a local children’s home. Faith has helped a variety of causes both inside and outside the Lutheran Church—too many to list.
293 Hialeah Drive
Hialeah, FL 33010
Church (305) 888-6706 | School (305) 885-2845