The History of Cross of Hope
Cross of Hope Lutheran Church began as a mission of the American Lutheran Church, a predecessor to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), which saw that a new ministry center was needed on the fast-growing west mesa of Albuquerque. The first step was the purchase of four acres of land in the Taylor Ranch area by Service Mission Director Reverend Lester Hoffmann. Reverend Ronald Barth of Great Falls, Montana, was called to begin the development of a congregation. He and his wife, Mavis, arrived in late September 1981 and began meeting with people interested in forming a congregation.
In October, weekly meetings were held in the pastor’s living room. The first worship service was held November 22, 1981 in Marie Hughes Elementary School with 52 in attendance. In January 1982, the congregation moved into the Taylor Ranch Office Park, at the corner of Montaño and Taylor Ranch near the church-owned land.
Cross of Hope organized officially on May 16, 1982 with a membership of 75 baptized, 46 confirmed, and 3 associate members. In September 1984, the congregation moved worship and Sunday school space to the Central Seventh Day Adventist Church near Coors Blvd. and I-40. A committee formed to plan for a church building, held its first meeting November 6, 1983, and an architect was selected in May 1984. In August, the congregation voted to acquire a loan from the American Lutheran Church for much of the building and land costs. Groundbreaking took place September 9, 1984; construction began in February 1985. The first worship service at 6104 Taylor Ranch Road was on July 28, 1985. Dedication of the first unit was held September 8, 1985.
It was apparent that the building was too small to house the ministry of the congregation. Planning began for a sanctuary and additional space for classrooms and offices. A building committee was formed, an architect was selected, and the plans were developed. The congregation held a building-fund pledge drive in October 1987, and the American Lutheran Church provided an additional loan in December 1987.
Groundbreaking was held February 7, 1988, and the Mission Builders (Lutheran volunteer construction workers) arrived that month to help us. The new facility was dedicated June 19, 1988, and Pastor Barth resigned effective August 1988 to take a call in Eugene, Oregon. In February 1989, a pastoral search committee called Reverend Dale G. Bauer of Denver, and he and Edee moved to New Mexico in May. Reverend Richard Magnus, Assistant to the Bishop, Rocky Mountain Synod, installed Pastor Bauer on May 21.
During Pastor Bauer’s tenure, Cross of Hope has been marked by a commitment to the youth, the hopes and hurts of Albuquerque, education, and the development of ministry staff. The number of outreach ministries has more than doubled. A 1782 square foot portable building was dedicated to the Cross of Hope Preschool and church education classes in April 1996. Over a period of three months in 1995, the congregation raised the entire cost for the current building and its installation, $85,000.
In May, 1998, the congregation approved an effort called “Lift High the Cross.” Its goals were:
- Commit the congregation to reaching out to the unchurched.
- Add to the sense of “sacred” in our worship area, adding a new altar and furnishings and highlighting the back wall around the cross.
- Enhance our worship, by adding computer-generated graphics to the worship.
- Make worship, especially the third service, more contemporary.
- Improve the sound system.
“Lift High The Cross” raised close to $70,000 to complete these goals. One of the great benefits of Lift High the Cross was the development of the Alpha Course, which is aimed at those who want to learn about the Christian faith in a non-threatening context.
During 2000 – 2002, Cross of Hope updated its master building plan and began a capital fund drive to add multipurpose classrooms, administrative space, and a new entrance. $623,000 was given or pledged, enabling us to plan construction. Ground breaking was in May 2003; construction was completed in mid February 2004.
The congregation is currently working on enhancing the current building space, through the campaign, "Sharing More Hope Than EVER." The new building will add additional classroom space for the school and for adult education.