A Brief History of Our Church

The Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills began as an idea in the minds of two women: Lois Phillips Huey and Barbara Schaffer. They encouraged officials of The Southern District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to begin plans for a new Lutheran Church in the Shades Mountain area of Birmingham, Alabama. Their encouragement resulted in the Southern District purchasing the present two acre site at the corner of U.S. Highway 31 (South Montgomery Highway) and Shades Crest Road in Vestavia Hills in 1958.
Early in 1959 the Southern District called Reverend James Pape to begin work as a Mission Developer in Vestavia Hills. The first service of the new congregation was held on April 12, 1959 in the old National Guard Armory at the foot of Shades Mountain. On February 21, 1960 the congregation moved its services to Vestavia Hills City Hall. June 10, 1962 was an exciting day for the congregation as its first building was dedicated. It was a unique structure, as far as churches go. There was a sanctuary for worship in the center and four circular pods attached, two on each side of the sanctuary, for other church activities. Because of the slope of the land the buildings were constructed on stilts in order to make them level with Highway 31. For many years we were known as “The Church on Stilts” in the Vestavia Hills community.
The wooden pods proved to be difficult to configure and expensive to maintain. Therefore, in 1989 three of the pods were removed and a two story, all brick building was constructed to the right of the sanctuary for Sunday School, fellowship, and administrative activities. Dedication of this new facility was on April 29, 1990. A little over ten years later the congregation built out from the old sanctuary a new and greatly expanded sanctuary for its services of worship. A new nursery and additional Sunday School and meeting rooms surrounding the sanctuary were also a part of this project. Dedication of the facility as it stands today was on February 4, 2001.
For 50 years the congregation has been served by only four pastors: Rev. James Pape (1959 – 1965), Rev. Albert Besalski (1966 – 1976), Rev. Clifford Hellmers (1976 – 2008) and Rev. Michael Ahlemeyer (2010 - present).
Over the years The Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills has been known for a number of things: its desire for quality worship and church music; its commitment to children, youth, and parents; and its active participation in the mission of Christ’s Church in the community and throughout the world. With the power of the Holy Spirit our church family will continue to honor the name of Christ and his mission in all that we do.