1854 | Kansas-Nebraska Act
President Franklin Pierce signs this historic act creating the territories of Nebraska and Kansas. Omaha City is founded that same year.
1858 | Rev. Henry W. Kuhns
In response to Kountze’s letter, Rev. Kuhns (1858-1870) arrives in Omaha City on November 19 as a missionary of the Allegheny Synod of Pennsylvania to the Nebraska Territory. Kuhns, a graduate of Gettysburg Seminary, is the first Lutheran Missionary in Nebraska Territory, and receives a salary of $500 per year plus whatever he could collect in the field.
1858 | Emanuel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
On December 5, Kuhns and fourteen prominent area residents organize Emanuel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, the first Lutheran church in Omaha and Nebraska Territory.
1881 | Rev. George F. Stelling
Under Rev. Stelling’s (1881-1884) leadership, the first church is sold for $16,000 to developers of the Millard Hotel. A new church lot is purchased near 16th and Harney. The congregation rents the Boyd Opera House on 15th and Farnam for Sunday services for two years until the basement of the second building is complete.
1883 | Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church
Augustus Kountze agrees to match pledges for the construction of the second church building. In gratitude, the congregation unanimously votes to rename the church in honor of Kountze’s father, thus becoming Kountze Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church.
1888 | The Helping Hand Society
Mrs. Allen Koch organizes the Helping Hand Society, following the disbanding of the Ladies Aid Society. This organization would later become the Women of the ELCA.
1889 | Grace Lutheran Church
1906 | Third Building
Following the sale of the second building for $90,000, portions of the structure are salvaged for use in the new church at 26th and Farnam. Until the basement of the new building is complete, worship takes place in rented facilities, including Creighton Hall, the YMCA, and the Metropolitan Club. Herman Kountze and his brothers contribute $28,000 of the $124,000 construction and land costs, allowing the church to be dedicated debt free on May 27, 1906.
1911 | Rev. Oliver Baltzly
During Baltzly’s (1911-1931) ministry, Kountze Memorial becomes the largest Lutheran church in America with over 5,000 members and a 1931 Confirmation class of 364. In 1919, Midland Lutheran College moves to Fremont, Nebraska, from Atchison, Kansas, with financial help from Kountze Memorial under the leadership of Baltzly. Baltzly is the first Kountze pastor to be born in Nebraska.
1915 | An Associate Pastor is Called
Rev. C. Franklin Koch is hired as the first associate pastor at Kountze Memorial. That same year, the congregation establishes a third Sunday school mission at Druid Hall on 24th and Ames. Two years later the mission is dissolved and its members establish Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer at 24th and Larimore.
1920 | Foreign Missionaries
Commissioned at Kountze Memorial, Mette Blair, RN, sails to southern India to provide medical services, continuing a long standing tradition of missionary outreach. Blair labors in India for 42 years.
1931 | Largest Confirmation Class in History
In the final year of Rev. Baltzly’s ministry, Kountze Memorial celebrates the largest confirmation class (363) in the history of the Lutheran Church, the 13th year in a row of record numbers.
1937 | Sister Harriet Franklin
Sister Franklin is hired from the Deaconesses Mother House in Baltimore, MD and serves the congregation from 1937- 1949, overseeing the services at Kountze Sunday school missions.
1940 | United Lutheran Church in America Convention
The 12th Biennial Convention of the United Lutheran Church in America is held at Kountze Memorial, the first ULCA Convention held west of the Mississippi River. Also, five women’s organizations merge to form the Women of the Church of Kountze Memorial, a precursor to the W-ELCA.
1950 | Aeolian-Skinner Organ
Kountze Memorial dedicates a most beautiful Aeolian-Skinner Organ as a memorial to all those who served in WWII.
1951 | Protestant Preaching Mission to the USAF
Rev. Traub conducts the first Protestant preaching mission in history to the United States Air Force in Europe.
1955 | Central States Synod Convention
Kountze Memorial hosts the Central States Synod convention in May.
1958 | 100th Anniversary
Kountze Memorial celebrates its 100th Anniversary of ministry on December 5, 1958.
1969 | Fellowship Hall and Sunday School
The Sunday School, Kitchen, and Fellowship Hall are expanded at a cost of $500,000.
1983 | 125th Anniversary
Kountze Memorial celebrates its 125th Anniversary with a large banquet and pageant.
1985 | Endowment Fund
A $250,000 gift establishes a fund for the purpose of outreach and later provides money for college scholarships and capital improvements. Today, our Endowment fund totals over $6 million.
1990 | History Book
Through Wick’s efforts, Dr. Dale Lund, President of Midland College, is commissioned to write the history of the congregation, Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church – A History.
1996-1997 | Building Renovations
During the last couple of years of Rev. Wick’s pastorate, a number of building renovations were undertaken including the kitchen, restrooms, fellowship lounge, and chancel areas.
1998 | Rev. Carlos Schneider
Born in Brazil to missionary parents, Rev. Schneider (1998-2012), a graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, becomes the 14th Senior Pastor. During his ministry, a nearly $10 million building renovation (Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, Sunday School, Church offices, etc.) is completed, bringing most of the church building up to modern day standards.
1999 | Neighborhood Gathering
The congregation holds the first Neighborhood Gathering, inviting those in the surrounding community to the church for fun, food, and fellowship.
2005 | Food Pantry
For over two decades, the Food Pantry at Kountze Memorial, which had its beginnings in a little closet, has grown into a well-built weekly operation, with over 70 volunteers serving an estimated 1, 500 guests each month.
2008 | Abundantly Blessed
Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church, with close to 2,100 members, celebrates 150 years of worship and fellowship with one another, growth in faith, and service to the community. KMLC is the oldest continuous Lutheran church west of the Missouri River.
2010 | Healing Gift Free Clinic
On February 25, Kountze Memorial opens a free health clinic, staffed by volunteers, for the purpose of providing much needed medical care to the surrounding community. Its mission is to empower those it serves toward health of the body, mind, and spirit.
2011 | Celebrating 70 Years of Ministry
2013 | The Next Chapter
Following a national search, Rev. Jeffery Alvestad (2013- ), a graduate of Luther Seminary, begins his ministry as Senior Pastor on July 1, 2013. The Congregation looks ahead with much anticipation to what the future holds for Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church as we seek to Worship, Grow, and Serve in Downtown Omaha.
2014 | $1.1 Million Organ Refurbishment and Chamber Expansion
Kountze Memorial embarks on a massive organ renovation, refurbishment and building expansion, allowing our most beautiful Aeolian-Skinner Organ Opus 1090 to serve the congregation and community for years to come.
2015 | In the City for Good Campaign
After purchasing the KETV news station property through a gift of the Kountze Memorial Endowment Fund, the congregation begins a capital campaign, raising over $2 million towards the redevelopment of the KETV. The ambitious plans include space for our health clinic, food pantry, expanded parking, accessible entrances, outdoor green space, cafe, meeting rooms, and commons area.
2016 Kountze Commons
Hundreds were on hand on Sunday, June 19 as our congregation broke ground on the new building that will include space for a free medical clinic, commons area, expanded parking, and green space. The ceremony began in the Sanctuary with remarks by Rev. Dean Bard, Interim Senior Pastor at Kountze Memorial, who remarked, “Today, we break ground and launch an historic initiative in response to our Lord’s call to serve people in need and minister to all people in Christ’s name." Many of our partners in ministry were present, including representatives from Lutheran Family Services, Mosaic, and Dr. Lindsey Northam from Methodist Health System who serves as medical director for the new Methodist Community Health Clinic.