Luther-Tyndale Memorial Church is the “mother” congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England.
The congregation was founded in 1896 by a group of German Lutheran immigrants. The six young founders, bakers in their early twenties, were men of initiative: they sent a letter to distant Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, USA, asking for a pastor, each pledging 5 of his weekly shillings (20% of his wages) for the support of the pastor.
Included in the first call document that went to Concordia Theological Seminary, St Louis, were these words by St Paul [1 Cor. 3 10-11] “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder and others are building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The initial meetings were held at 54 Crowndale Road in Camden, north London. By New Year, 117 missionary visits had been made by Revd Schulze and the congregation grew quickly, so a factory hall (at 105 Stanhope Street, Regents Park) was rented for our place of worship.
In 1901 the congregation bought the leasehold of the properties at 9 and 10 Leighton Crescent where the congregation is based to this day. These premises consisted of two houses and a hall behind them. The congregation paid £800 for the property leasehold, borrowing £700 of this. Revd Schulze moved into a flat upstairs at number 9 while a Sunday School was established on the ground floor. In 1902 the hall at the rear of the property, formerly Lord Leighton’s Music Hall, was dedicated as a chapel. In 1932 the congregation purchased the freehold for £1,400.
It was on the site of these two houses that the present church building was erected in 1938 at a cost of £4,800. Number 9 stood where the chancel is today and number 10 was where the main body of the church now is.
When the congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church, dedicated its new place of worship on on November 27th in 1938, it changed its name to Luther-Tyndale Memorial Church, thus symbolising the kind of church they wanted to be: a community of Christians proclaiming the Gospel teaching of Martin Luther in the language of William Tyndale.
In this 1938 photo the original chapel can still be seen to the right (north-west) side of the new church building. The hall was renovated in 1952 at a cost of £2,000.
After the second World War Luther-Tyndale Memorial Church and Holy Trinity (established in Tottenham in 1901) were two financially independent congregations belonging to the Atlantic District of the LCMS. To change the impression that the Lutheran Church was a foreign church, a joint meeting of Luther-Tyndale and Holy Trinity congregations resolved on September 18th 1952, to adopt the name “The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England” and to establish the ELCE as an autonomous Sister Church of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). This was accepted by the Convention of the LCMS and they also agreed to support ELCE plan for mission expansion in the summer of 1953. The ELCE came into being on January 1st 1954. On Sunday, January 3rd, Revd Norman Nagel was installed as pastor of Luther-Tyndale, the Revd Louis Brighton was installed as pastor of Holy Trinity, and the Revd E Geo Pearce was commissioned as Missionary-at-Large. A history of the ELCE is available from the ELCE web site (this link will open a new window).
In 1966 construction began on a new hall and meeting rooms which were dedicated on 18th September 1966. These rooms are not only used by the congregation for our own events and ELCE events but they are also currently used by a nursery school, a dancing school and two other churches who do not have their own premises. The challenges facing the congregation then are very similar to those today; from the text of the hall dedication service leaflet: “The general indifference of the populance towards religion and the church; the continual movement of the people in and out of the area; the older members of the congregation moving away; present Luther-Tyndale with all the inner city challenges…..The congregation had perhaps a more than usual varied membership. In its growth over the years it has become the temporary and permanent church home for many Lutherans from abroad.” This is as true now as it was 40 years ago.
Luther-Tyndale Memorial Church now exists to serve the local community of Kentish Town and also the international Lutheran community in London – we have members from Germany, Poland, the Philippines, USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia and Brazil.
In 1996 we hosted a centenary service for the congregation where there were many direct decedents of the original members of the congregation.
The congregation in 1997 and 2010:
In 2004 the congregation were blessed to receive the gift of a house in Leighton Crescent, number 15. After some remodelling and refurbishment it was dedicated as a student house with rooms available to rent for young Lutherans. More information about the house is on the “Student House” page within this web site and some of the congregation acitivities during the past couple of years are described on the “Events” page.
Our current Pastor is Revd Claudio Flor from Brazil. He graduated with a BA in Theology at Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1983 and has picked up a couple of other degrees along the way; BA in Language (1985), S.T. M. from Concordia Seminary in St Louis (1992) and BSc (Hons) Psych (Open University Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology) in 2012 as well as serving congregations in Brazil and Argentina.
Revd Flor accepted a call from Luther-Tyndale in 2000, and came to us from the position of New Testament and Christian Education Professor at the seminary of The Lutheran Church In Brazil (IELB) in Sao Paulo, arriving with his family and 13 suitcases at Gatwick Airport in July 2000. He was installed on 16th September 2000.