The CMC-LA is proudly a part of the rich history of the University Lutheran Chapel at UCLA.
UCLA Lutheran Campus Ministry began in the fall of 1954 under the leadership of Rev. Ronald G. Goerss, who had just graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. During those years, the LCMS campus ministry operated out of the University Religious Conference (URC) building. Rev. Goerss went on a one year study leave in 1959, and Rev. Charles Manske filled in at UCLA , in addition to his duties at USC. It was he who arranged for the Southern California District of the LCMS to purchase the land on which our Chapel now stands. In 1960, Rev. Goerss accepted a call to serve in Vaparaiso, IN.
After the vacancy, Rev. Dr. Gerhard Mundinger was installed as ULC’s second pastor in summer, 1961. He established regular Sunday worship services which were held in the URC upper lounge. He also oversaw the final planning of the University Lutheran Chapel and Student Center and was instrumental in ensuring that the Chapel had both a pipe organ and stained glass windows from the beginning. Shortly after the ground-breaking ceremony for the Chapel in late 1962, Dr. Mundinger was called to Boulder, CO.
In May 1963, Rev. Goerss returned as the LCMS UCLA Campus Pastor. Meanwhile, a campus-centered congregation had been formed and submitted its constitution to the Southern California District of the LCMS in February 1963 (finally approved in 1970).
On 17 October 1965, the completed Chapel was dedicated. It was designed by Wilkes, Steinbrueck and McKinney, architects, and built by Miller and Sons, general contractors. The organ, donated by the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, was designed by Dr. Robert Tusler, UCLA organist, and built by Abbot and Sieker. The stained glass windows are by Roger Darricarrere, stained glass artist. His work from the same time period was in the 1964 New York World’s Fair Chapel, the winner of over 100 designs submitted, now installed at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church (ELCA), Granada Hills, CA.
Rev. Ronald G. Goerss ended his service in campus ministry in December 1965, and Rev. Amos Schmidt was installed as the next ULC pastor in May 1966. He served until September 1972, when he was called to Monmouth, OR. During the ensuing vacancy, Rev. A. Arthur Schmidt and Rev. C. B. Wismar served the Chapel. ULC’s next pastor was Rev. Dr. Roger E. Timm, from 1975 – 1980. After Rev. Timm accepted another call, Rev. Luther Olmen served as vacancy pastor.
Ken Frese then served ULC from 1981 – 1992, when he accepted a call to First Lutheran Church, Venice, CA. The vacancy was then served by Rev. Harry Miller, formerly of Trinity Lutheran, Reseda, CA. Rev. Timothy Seals served ULC from 1994 – 2003. After Rev. Seals accepted a call to St. Luke’s, Claremont, CA, the Chapel was served by various visiting pastors during the vacancy, most frequently by Rev. Robert Rossow from Concordia University Irvine. During this transition period, ULC’s called Campus Ministry Associate, Faith Spelbring, nee St. Jean, provided essential program direction and continuity. Faith and her husband, Chris, left ULC in August 2007, for Chris to enter Concordia Seminary St. Louis. Chris served as Vicar and then as pastor at First Lutheran Church, Venice, CA, until October 2015, when he accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Belleville, Illinois.
Rev. Mark Jasa, just graduated from Concordia Seminary St. Louis, was ordained and installed as pastor of ULC in August 2005, and served here until August of 2013. On October 2015, we celebrated 50 years of ministry in our current location. We give praise to God for ULC’s 50 years of ministry to the UCLA campus community.
From August 2013 to August 2016, Rev. Robert Rossow served ULC, followed by Rev. Tim Francisco. On Saturday, September 3, 2016, Rev. Bartholomew Loos was ordained and installed as the new pastor of University Lutheran Chapel.
In 2018, ULC made the courageous decision to transform into the CMC-LA. While keeping a presence at UCLA, the CMC-LA has been working to launching new missions to California State University at Northridge, University of Southern California, Santa Monica College, and Pierce College. The CMC-LA hopes to continue to multiply and launch even more campus missions at other colleges/universities in LA County!