Our Redeemer

Lutheran Church lcms

About ORLC

640 Seventh Street West
Columbia Falls, Montana

(406) 892-4074

Who We Are

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church is part of the theological confession known as The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.  Founded in 1956 as a mission church, the congregation and its activities have changed and grown with the membership.  But, our belief in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is unchanged, and we remain fervent in our mission to spread the Good News and serve our neighbors.

What We Believe
  • We believe the sixty-six Books of the Holy Bible are the inerrant word of God written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that there is one true God. He has revealed Himself as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet One Divine Essence.  The universal Christian faith is rightly confessed in the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds.
  • We believe God has come to us in the person of the eternal son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is both true man and true God and He lived to fulfill God's law for us, died on the cross to atone for our sins, and physically rose from the dead to demonstrate His victory over sin, death, and the devil.
  • We believe that there is no way to know God or to have a right relationship with Him apart from faith in Jesus.
  • We believe that faith in Jesus is a gift from God, given by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that God creates faith and forgives sins through His Word and through the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  For believers, He sustains their faith and gives the assurance of the forgiveness of sins through Holy Communion wherein He feeds us with His true body and blood given along with the bread and wine.
  • We believe Christians are called to love, honor and obey God, and to love and care for our neighbor.  This is accomplished through the many and various gifts that God has given to His people, but chiefly through faith in Jesus for eternal life.
Our History

In the spring of 1955, the Mission Board of the Montana District - LCMS called Reverend Walter Holzheimer from LCMS seminary to serve as a missionary-at-large for the Columbia Falls and Whitefish area.  Forty-one people attended a gathering of interested Lutherans on the lawn of Pastor Holzheimer's rented home that summer.  They began to plan for worship services and a Sunday School, which began meeting regularly on August 14, 1955 in the CIO union hall in Columbia Falls.

The congregation was officially organized on March 18, 1956, meeting in the basement of a three bedroom home on 7th Avenue West that also served as the parsonage.  In 1958, the congregation dedicated a new church building across the street that now serves educational purposes.  Pastor Holzheimer served until 1960, conducting additional church services in Whitefish, West Glacier, and the North Fork area near the Canadian border.

The Lutherans from Whitefish formed St. Peter's Lutheran Church in 1960.  The dual parishes of Our Redeemer and St. Peter's were served by Pastor James Schackel from 1960-67, Pastor Clarence Langhans from 1967-74, Pastor Myron Wackler from 1974-80, and by Pastor Elden Martin from 1980-85.  During this time, the Our Redeemer congregation grew to over 150 members with about 70 people regularly attending Sunday worship.

Pastor Michael Warmbier arrived fresh from LCMS seminary in 1985, and his tenure was marked by growth as attendance increased to about 90 each Sunday.  Congregational growth and the potential for growth in the Flathead Valley led to separation of the Columbia Falls and Whitefish parishes in 1988.  Pastor Warmbier continued to serve Our Redeemer Lutheran Church until 1993.  Pastor Terry Forke served Our Redeemer from 1993 to 2006.  The congregation built a new sanctuary and fellowship hall adjoining the existing church building in 1997-98.  Members of the congregation did much of the construction, helped by the Laborers for Christ.  The original building was converted to classrooms and other educational purposes.  The congregation started King's Kids Preschool in 1999.  Pastor Forke left Our Redeemer in 2006 to become President of the Montana District - LCMS.

Pastor Matthew Nelson arrived in 2007, having previously served as an LCMS rural missionary in southern Utah.  The congregation has over 170 members, with about 120 attending worship services each Sunday.  The King’s Kids Preschool currently serves up to 18 students.