HISTORY

Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church has a glorious past! We are the oldest, continuous Lutheran church west of the Missouri River, and have been worshipping, growing, and serving in Downtown Omaha for nearly 160 years.

Kountze Memorial, the birthplace of Lutheranism in Nebraska and on the plains, was founded in Omaha in 1858 as a mission church of the Allegheny Synod of Pennsylvania. At the time, there were no other Lutheran congregations in the area. Many of our founding members were leaders in early Omaha. After renting meeting facilities for a time, our congregation built a modest church at 13th and Douglas, the current site of the Holland Performing Arts Center. A second church building followed in 1886. Later, after our congregation continued to grow, we built a grand structure on Farnam street, which remains today.

Before and after WWI, our congregation founded 7 mission churches around the city and led the way in providing a significant portion of the funds to move Midland College from Kansas to Fremont, Nebraska, raising an incredible $500,000 (in todays dollars) in just 6 weeks.

In the 1940’s, to meet the needs of our growing congregation, we embarked on an ambitious building plan, which expanded our church building by adding the Fellowship Hall, Sunday school, and church offices. In the 1960’s and 70’s, additional space was added for the Sunday school and church groups. In 1962, Kountze Memorial began live televised broadcasts of our Sunday worship services, reaching hundreds of thousands throughout the Omaha area, a ministry that continues today.  

In 1982, Kountze Memorial completed deFreese Manor, an independent senior living facility located near the church.

More recently, our congregation has focused its efforts on expanding our weekly food pantry and medical clinic, which serves hundreds each week.

In 2014, we completed a $1.1 million renovation of our historic Aeolian-Skinner organ, which is dedicated to all those who served in WWII.

From our humble beginnings, we grew to become the largest Lutheran Church in the world during the mid-twentieth century. Today, our congregation of nearly 2,000 members remains a vibrant and vital faith community. In all things, we seek to worship, grow, and serve, as we continue to live out our mission to be a “City-wide Church, with a World-wide Ministry”.