History of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod 

in Shawnee, OK

Missouri Synod missionaries were first sent to Oklahoma after the land run of 1889 to faithfully preach
the Word of God and to administer the Sacraments as instituted by Christ. After two years of groundwork, the
first Lutheran services were held at Marena, OK in 1891. Later, Lutheran pastors from Wellston and Cushing
began serving the community around Shawnee until 1909 when Rev. Theodore C. Otto was called from
Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois. As an area missionary, Pastor Otto held Lutheran
services in German at the Shawnee City Hall and reached out into the area communities as far as Earlsboro,
Prague, Arlington, Durant, Coalgate, and Hugo for the three and a half years he was here. In 1912 he accepted a
call from the Lutheran church in Okarche, leaving a vacancy in Shawnee that lasted for eight months.
As the Lutheran community sought to fill that vacancy, there were no regular Lutheran services until
Rev. Karl Freese accepted the call to serve the Shawnee area in 1913. Rev. Freese changed to holding a regular
English-language service while offering one service each month in German. On June 24, 1914, the Lutheran
community around Shawnee organized itself as St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church with seven charter
members. The first official service of St. John was held Easter Sunday, 1916 in the Dutch Reform worship
center (which was the former Horton Memorial Church building).
1922-1943 Rev. Edgar J. Buerger; 1943-1944 Vicar Elmer Neunaber; 1944-1946 Rev. L. A. Reinke; 1946-1950
Rev. Mark L. Heilman; 1950-1952 Rev. Edward F. Eggert; 1952-1959 Rev. Paul H. Heitman; 1959-1966 Rev.
R. L. Young; 1966-1971 Rev. Dan Streufert
Rev. Floyd Schoenhals accepted the call to St. John in 1971. During this time, Shawnee drew many
Lutherans from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to serve in the growing industrial trades. The 70’s also
saw rising conflict in the Missouri Synod over the truth and interpretation of the Bible in what famously became
known as Seminex (“Seminary In Exile), when the errant faculty walked out from Concordia Seminary in St.
Louis. Concern about this tension in the LCMS caused Rev. Schoenhals to encourage St. John to leave the
LCMS and join the American Lutheran Church (ALC). After a congregational vote, St. John was received into
membership in the ALC in 1979.
Those who did not agree with abandoning the Missouri Synod had to leave their home church. In 1980,
a contingent of 7 members joined Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Midwest City. There they approached
Good Shepherd’s pastor, Rev. Gerald Quiram, about continuing an LCMS ministry in Shawnee. On August
22, 1982, the core 7, with Pastor Quiram, plus 16 others met at Kimi’s Pizza Place in Shawnee to officially re-
constitute a Missouri Synod congregation – at first known as “Faith Lutheran,” but then in October 1982
formally designated “Redeemer Lutheran Church.” The first scheduled worship service was held at 7pm on
September 26, 1982 at Kimi’s, with Pastor Quiram using the counter space as the altar. With the sale of
Kimi’s, Redeemer met at the Seminole College Campus, then at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in
Seminole, until they settled at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Shawnee on January 16, 1983.
August 26, 1984, Pastor Robert Krahn was ordained as Redeemer’s first pastor. He had served a
convertible vicarage with Redeemer the previous year since August 1983. With their new pastor, Redeemer
embarked on building their own place for receiving God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament. In partnership with the
Oklahoma District of the LCMS, “Laborers for Christ,” and the commitment of the members, land was found
and a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the MacArthur Street property for Redeemer Lutheran Church on
September 28, 1986. On October 25, 1987 the first service at the new church celebrated the Baptism of Tyler
James Brack, with the Church Dedication service held that afternoon at 3p with approximately 240 people in
attendance. At 6:30p an appreciation dinner was held in honor of the “Laborers for Christ” who had helped
build Redeemer for the previous 4 months, since July 1987.
In 1989 Pastor Krahn accepted a call. The vacancy was filled by Pastor Charles Miller from Wellston
until Pastor Jonathon Cholcher was called from the seminary and ordained as Redemer’s second pastor in

July 1990. During this time, membership grew and an outreach was established in Prague. In 1996, Pastor
Cholcher took a call and Pastor Miller of Wellston again served the vacancy until Pastor John Nelson took the
call as our third pastor in June of 1997. In early 1999 Pastor Nelson took another call and Pastor Wackler served
the vacancy until August of 1999 when Pastor Lenny Szeto was called from the seminary and ordained as
Redeemer’s fourth pastor. After he took a call in 2001, Oklahoma District President Hartman met to discuss
Redeemer’s future as the years between 2001 and 2004 were very difficult. Pastor Myron Maltz served as
vacancy pastor for morning services and Pastor Gary Brandt served for visitation and special services.
On August 29, 2004 Vicar Lewis Walters was installed at Redeemer. After completing the seminary’s
SMP program, he was ordained on February 22, 2005 as our fifth pastor. During this time, Pastor Walters built
up the Sunday School, VBS, and community outreach programs. The Lord blessed Redeemer during these years
with much growth.
During 2020, the COVID epidemic hit churches hard as members and leadership sought to determine
how best to “love their neighbor” while “loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Like
most churches, Redeemer closed for a time while providing virtual ministries. Pastor Walters retired in August
of 2020. In the spring of 2021, the available vaccinations against COVID enabled members to return to worship
and Redeemer began to build back from the effects of the separation.
February 21, 2021, Pastor Matthew Tassey was installed as Redeemer’s sixth pastor.
From 1909 to 2021, the Word and Sacraments have been God’s mission among the Confessional
Lutherans here in Shawnee. May the Lord grant continued zeal and opportunity to His glory and to our
community’s good.
Shawnee Missouri Synod Pastors (Prior to 1980)
1909-1912 Rev. Theodore Otto
June 24, 1914-1922 Rev. Carl Freese
1922-1943 Rev. Edgar J. Buerger
1943-1944 Vicar Elmer Neunaber
1944-1946 Rev. L. A. Reinke
1946-1950 Rev. Mark L. Heilman
1950-1952 Rev. Edward F. Eggert
1952-1959 Rev. Paul H. Heitman
1959-1966 Rev. R. L. Young
1966-1971 Rev. Dan Streufert
1971-1979 Rev. Floyd Schoenhals
Redeemer Pastors
August 26, 1984-1989 Pastor Robert Krahn
Vacancy served by Rev. Charles Miller of Wellston
July 1990-1996 Pastor Jonathon Cholcher
Vacancy served by Rev. Charles Miller of Wellston
June 1997-1999 Pastor John Nelson
Vacancy served by Rev. Wackler of Ardmore
August 1999-2001 Pastor Lenny Szeto
Vacancy served by Rev. Myron Maltz (Retired) and Rev. Gary Brandt of Ada
August 29, 2004-August 2020 Pastor Lewis Walters
Vacancy served by Rev. Chris Griffith of Wellston
February 21, 2021, Pastor Matthew Tassey