The First Ten Years of Mandarin Lutheran Church
Incorporated in 1985, Mandarin Lutheran Church has been a part of the Mandarin Community for 37 years. From our humble beginnings, worshipping at the Catholic Center in Mandarin, to our current 3.6 acre property on San Jose Boulevard, MLC has grown and continues to be a church who welcomes all.
In the early 1980s, the American Lutheran Church sent a young pastor, Lee Magneson, to begin a new Lutheran church in Mandarin. Joining Pastor Lee were his wife, Julie, and their young children, Robbie and Missy. Pastor Lee immediately began calling on virtually every household in Mandarin to introduce himself and Mandarin’s new church, known then as the Lutheran Ministry of Mandarin.
The first worship service of the young congregation was held January 6, 1985, at the Catholic Center at the northeast corner of Old. St. Augustine and Greenland Roads. The Diocese of St. Augustine generously allowed the congregation to meet there until they had a building of their own. Marilyn Whitford’s family was among those who attended services at the Catholic Center.
In December 1985, the church was incorporated as Mandarin Lutheran Church and 11 months later it closed on 3.6 acres at the present location.
Those shown in this photo include Pastor Lee Magneson (far left) and Pastor Dave Winter (second from right). In 1987, construction was completed on the current Fellowship Hall. It served as a multi-purpose facility for MLC and was also rented out to Merry Pat’s Preschool during the week.
Holding two Sunday services (8:00 and 11:00), with Sunday School in between, presented logistical challenges. Each Sunday morning the space had to be changed from the preschool arrangement to church seating, to Sunday School configuration, back to church seating and, finally back to the preschool setup. With many willing hands, the transformation could be accomplished in surprisingly short order.
It was a happy day when construction began on the new sanctuary and an even happier one when it was ready for worship.
The dedication service was attended by the Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, local Lutheran pastors and Protestant and Jewish clergy from Mandarin. The stained-glass windows had not been installed yet.
Initially there were no pews, and the chairs were arranged in a semi-circular pattern facing the altar. Pews were later acquired from a Baptist church in the Southside Estates area that was, ironically, replacing them with chairs.