UCLA LCMS campus ministry began in the fall of 1954 under the leadership of Rev. Ronald G. Goerss, just graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. During those years, the UCLA Campus Ministry operated out of the University Religious Conference (URC) building. Pastor 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 LCMS, Southern California District, to purchase the land on which our Chapel now stands. In 1960, Pastor Goerss accepted a call to serve in Valparaiso, 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 is now serving as Vicar at First Lutheran Church, Venice, CA.
Rev. Mark Jasa, just graduated from Concordia Seminary St. Louis, was ordained and installed as pastor of ULC in August, 2005, and he continues as ULC’s pastor today.
We give praise to God for ULC’s 45 years of ministry to the UCLA campus community.
— Information provided by Jack Koenig and Terry Schoessow