Our History

As the city of North Miami evolved from a desolate wilderness area north of the City of Miami into a more populated suburb of the growing Miami, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod felt a call from God to establish a church in the quickly growing neighborhood. Members of the mission council began to go house to house in this area to gauge the interest among the people, and felt that there was sufficient interest to establish a church that would soon grow to become a staple in the community. On May 9, 1948 Bay Shore's Pastor George Schuster conducted the first worship service in the North Miami town hall with 15 people in attendance. As the group continued to meet regularly, it grew and in November 1948 they purchased the plot of land at 135th Street and NE 7th Avenue that we know today as Holy Cross Lutheran Church. 

Pastor Schuster, who was the Pastor at Bay Shore Lutheran Church, led the worship services regularly in the North Miami town hall until he accepted a call from Mississippi in September of 1949. Pastor F.H. Zucker of Miami Beach Lutheran Church became the temporary Pastor.  It was under his leadership that ground was broken for the construction of Holy Cross’ first building on November 9, 1949. This building served as the first church and assembly hall for everything including Sunday School, and now serves as the Church Guild Room and continues to be utilized for Bible Studies and various church events. Construction was completed on January 29, 1950 and the first worship service held in the new building was on February 5, 1950.

Pastor Zucker received a call to serve as the pastor of a church in Pasagula, Mississippi which he accepted. After thorough prayer, the Florida-Georgia Mission Board issued a call to Pastor Benjamin Schumacher of Medora, Indiana to serve as the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran. Holy Cross was incorporated by the County Clerk of Dade County on March 15, 1951 prior to Pastor Schumacher's arrival.  When Pastor Schumacher arrived, Ernie Lehmann, one of the laymen who helped to build the first chapel, was working on the church building.  Pastor Schumacher greeted Ernie, to which Ernie replied, "Are you our new Pastor?"  "Yes, I am," Pastor replied, "But I thought you had a church here, not a tool shed!" The Florida-Georgia District agreed to build a parsonage on the lot west of the Guild Room.  The congregation would own it when all payments had been made. In 1952, Holy Cross began construction on the new church sanctuary. The new construction project was financed by a loan from the district and a generous donation from the Lehmann family, successful contractors with buildings throughout North Miami.  

In 1961, Pastor Shumacher was called by God to organize and serve the East Ridge village retirement complex in South Miami and Pastor Karl Krueger was called to serve as the new Pastor. Under Pastor Kreuger and his wife Dorothy’s leadership, the parsonage west of the Guild Room was purchased, the church was renovated with color patterned windows, a new cry room, additional pews, new hanging lanterns, a new organ and the new communion railing.  Additionally, the congregation became financially sustainable and  expanded the property with the purchase of the land located on the corner of  NE 135th Street and 6th Avenue. Under the Kreuger’s leadership the congregation continued to grow, and the church grew in influence in the community and globally. An example of such was the annual Easter services were held on Biscayne Boulevard.  One Easter in 1975 the Sunday School filled 500 balloons with gas and a special Easter message sharing the Gospel one of them reaching the shores of the Bahamas! 

By 1981 Holy Cross was helping to support financially 8 of its youth studying to be teachers and two young men, Dennis Bartels and Jerry Troester who were at the Seminary in St. Louis preparing to be pastors. In addition to being supported by the Holy Cross family, Dennis Bartels was a part of the Holy Cross family, having married one of Karl and Dorothy’s daughters, Beth. Pastor Dennis Bartels was ordained a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in his home congregation in Iowa. In 1983 Pastor Bartels was installed as Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran in West Memphis, Arkansas. In 1986, after 24 years of service and leadership to Holy Cross, Pastor Krueger retired and an offer was made to his son-in-law, Dennis Bartels.  Pastor Bartels accepted the call to Holy Cross Lutheran and has since served as the Senior Pastor. Despite noticeable changes in the surrounding community and in the overall congregation demographic, the purpose and mission remains the same, to further the Kingdom of God and to serve as God’s hands and feet in the city of North Miami.  



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