Our Pastors: Deceased Pastors We Remember

Pastor Fred Smith (see photo) served as our Pastor from about 2002 until his passing through death to life eternal in September 2017. Pastor Fred was instrumental in leading our congregation from the ELCA into the LCMC and the NALC. We will always remember this wonderful hard working pastor and his great sense of humor. Pastor Fred was retired US Army Chaplin, and had served his country working at the Pentagon in Washington DC among other assignments. Pastor Fred was dedicated to God, Country, and Family and he loved Christ Lutheran Church.

Pastor Henry Vensel served as Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church from 1972-1980. Pastor Vensel led improvements to the old sanctuary in Luther Hall and was the Pastor that led Christ Lutheran in the construction of our beautiful new sanctuary in 1975. Pastor Vensel retired in 1980, and passed away in 1998.

Pastor H. Maxwell Walton, our second pastor, served from 1957 to 1960.

 Pastor Walton was pastor when the Luther Hall building was built as our first Sanctuary. 

 After Pastor Walton retired, he made our Needlework Tapestries which his wife donated to Christ Lutheran Church after his death.

Eleven pastors and a bishop showed up for our Fortieth Anniversary on April 2, 1995. Can anyone identify them please? Here is a list of our previous and current pastors, some who might be pictured above:

1955-1957 Rev. Robert Walker, deceased, was our founding pastor. He helped organize the congregation, and held services at Northeast High School in their music room.

1957-1960 Rev. H. Maxwell Walton (see above), deceased, who made our Needlework Tapestries and helped get our Luther Hall building built. Pastor Walton came to us from St. Andrews United Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. He passed away in 1991 and is buried in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

1960-1970 Rev. Albert T. Keyser (Mrs. Stone’s father) had a large congregation and a strong education program. There were always Bible Studies and Vacation Bible School when he was pastor. Pastor Albert T. Keyser was also very involved in Church planting, and after his retirement in 1970, went to the Virgin Islands to rebuild a church damaged in a hurricane. Rev. Albert T. Keyser passed away in 1994 prior to the 40th Anniversary celebration, however his son Rev. Albert William Keyser, Jr. attended and is in the 40th Anniversary Pastors photo.

1970-1978 Rev. Henry Ellsworth Vensel (see info above), who passed away on October 15, 1998 in Dunedin, Florida. Rev. Vensel also saw that the church had a large Vacation Bible School for the neighborhood children. We do not know yet if he attended our 40th Anniversary.

1978-1985 Rev. Donald Strandland, living and is in the photo above.

1986-1999 Rev. Richard Hans, who helped organize the 40th Anniversary of Christ Lutheran Church. Pastor Hans served as pastor when the Lutheran Church of America merged with the American Lutheran Church and formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Most of years Christ Lutheran was part of ELCA were under Pastor Hans. Pastor Hans is pictured above.

2002-2017 Rev. Frederick Smith (see info and photo above), who passed away in 2017, helped organize the 50th Anniverary of Christ Lutheran Church. Pastor Fred was a retired USArmy Chaplin, and always honored those who served their country. A color guard carried the US Flag and the Lutheran Flag in a procession before the service on major national holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. He lead a reading of the Declaration of Independence before the service on the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July, and had everyone wearing Red, White, and Blue. Pastor Fred passed away in 2017 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

2018-2020 Rev. Michael Warfel, living, only stayed for a couple years and transferred to another church during the pandemic.

2021-present  Rev. John Thompson (current pastor). See the Our Pastors page for more info and photos of Pastor Thompson.

In addition, we had had several interim pastors and a few deacons to help with our ministries, including Pastor Jess Thompson, Chaplin, USArmy; Deacon Bob DePugh; and Deacon Donna Schoenbrun.