EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been revised to reflect that Glendale Lutheran School is NOT closing.
After 78 years, Glendale Lutheran Church – located at 13455 2nd Ave SW in Burien – will likely be closing, with their final public worship and celebration set for Sunday, April 23, 2023.
Church leadership has decided to sell the property, which includes what may be one of the largest pipe organs in a church on the west coast.
During its prime, Glendale Lutheran likely had around 1,600 members; many were married, children were baptized there and numerous funerals were held.
About five years ago, attendance had declined to around 50 people on any given Sunday. Recently, it has dropped to around just 20 or so people.
“We want this land and buildings to continue to be a place of worship and community life, providing graceful expression of the Gospel of Jesus and the inclusion of people who live in the area,” leadership said in its Guiding Values plan. “We have a responsibility to realize an honest value of the assets of the congregation in any transaction to liquidate those assets.”
A new buyer hasn’t been found yet, but officials are hoping it’s going to be another church and not an owner that just wants to develop the place and tear it down. One of the stipulations sellers would like is that whomever purchases the church will continue to support the Glendale School.
- This congregation was established as a mission by the American Lutheran Church (ALC) on July 18, 1944 with the Rev. Robert V. Rieke as pastor.
- A group of people held worship services for several months prior to this, and the first worship service was held in the H. P. Anderson home.
- Construction began on Labor Day, 1944, and by Good Friday of 1945 the first unit of the church was in operation.
- An enlarged parish education/school building was dedicated in 1955.
- The present sanctuary was dedicated on June 18, 1967.
- An M. P. Möller (Opus 9993) pipe organ with 43 ranks. 2,550 pipes, 4 divisions, 3 manuals, 35 stops, 47 registers was installed in 1967.
- Several lay missionary families have been sent to the mission field in New Guinea.
- Through the years the congregation has had several community service programs, including the first food bank in the area.
- It has also sponsored Vietnamese refugee families.
- The Rev. Robert Rieke was the first pastor of the congregation and served there until his retirement in 1984.
Here’s text from a letter sent out by Pastor Jim Kruse to church members:
Members and Friends of Glendale Ev. Lutheran Church,
This past Sunday, March 5th, the Ad Hoc Committee presented the attached “Closing Process” booklet during Fellowship time following 10:00 am worship. I briefly talked through the contents of the booklet, and we heard a presentation about the information on page 3, “Glendale School Fund.” I concluded by asking everyone to carefully read the information the booklet contains and come back this Sunday, March 12th, with questions and comments.
This timeline, from page 2 of the booklet, shows the Sunday-by-Sunday focus of the congregation’s life leading up to our final public worship service on April 23:
- March 5: Fellowship discussion: Update on the Legacy Plan and sale of the campus
- March 12: Fellowship discussion: Review all of the closing work being done
- March 19: Fellowship discussion: Review of all required Congregational votes #1
- March 26: Fellowship discussion: Review of all required Congregational votes #2
- April 2: Congregational Meeting
- April 9: EASTER SUNDAY
- April 16: [open for informal fellowship]
- April 23: Final Worship and Celebration
*** Please note especially the very important Congregational Meeting on April 2nd. ***
Please read these pages and plan to be present in worship and fellowship as much as possible for the next seven Sundays. The more participation we have from the members of Glendale, the more meaningful our time together will be.
Be of Good Cheer,
Pastor Jim Kruse