Fairlawn Lutheran Church and School
In January 1955 the city of Fairlawn did not exist. The area it occupies today was the northern part of Copley Township. Fairlawn Towne Center had not been built and Summit Mall was not even a consideration. Homes and businesses were scattered and few. At the intersection of Medina Road (later to become West Market Street) and Smith Road stood the Lang farmhouse on a 10.5 acre triangle. The house and property was then being rented for $14 a month.
Akron banker and astute businessman Bill Kroeger, a member of Concordia Lutheran on Akron’s south side, was also a member of the English District Mission Board. On behalf of the mission board, he purchased the property for $19,000 with the suggestion that this soon to be growing area needed a Lutheran church. That was all the mission-minded Senior Pastor of Concordia, Rev. J. Franklin Yount, needed to hear. Pastor Yount came to Akron in 1904 as a new seminary graduate and started Concordia. In the late 1920’s, while he continued to shepherd Concordia, he founded Grace Lutheran in Akron’s Five Points area. During his sixty plus year career in Akron, he founded five churches.
In October 1955, under Pastor Yount’s direction, Fairlawn Lutheran Church (FLC) was incorporated as a mission congregation of the English District. A group of former members of Concordia became the original congregation and the first service was held at the Cornus Hill Bible College (a former Firestone family mansion) on Chamberlain Road. Pastor Yount served the church for the first six months.
In the spring of 1956 the English District Mission Board called Rev. Paul Hoffmaster as Missionary-at-Large to serve the congregation. Pastor Hoffmaster preached his first sermon the Sunday after Easter and served the congregation for over 26 years. In a short time the congregation out-grew the space at Cornus Hill and in 1957 moved to the gymnasium of Copley Elementary School on Cleveland-Massillon Road.
On May 11, 1958 the two and a half year old congregation broke ground for an exciting new facility on the Medina Road parcel of land. Wefel & Wefel of Shaker Heights was the architect and Behling Construction of Akron was the general contractors. On September 20, 1959 the congregation gathered at the front entrance and processed into the new sanctuary for the first worship service. The total cost of the new facility, including the parsonage, was $354,000, a huge undertaking for a 120 member congregation. The congregation was blessed and grew in faith and numbers.
Pastor Hoffmaster retired in June 1982 and Rev. Charles Lentner was called. He began his tenure in July and remained at FLC for nearly 25 years. Pastor Lentner’s time at Fairlawn was marked by significant growth in souls and facilities including a 3.2 million dollar addition/new facility which was dedicated in December 1996. The new facility included a 550 seat sanctuary, entry area, offices and a preschool as well as substantial remodeling to the original facility. The preschool, now with a kindergarten added, after nearly fifteen years continues to be a huge mission outreach serving approximately 140 children and families a year. During this period of growth and expansion, the congregation was also served by associate pastor Rev. Robert Graul. From January 2007 until 2012 the congregation was served by Rev. Thomas Zucconi.
In June of 2014 Fairlawn Lutheran installed Rev. James Gau as pastor. Pastor Gau is focusing his ministry at FLCS on spiritual growth and outreach, both in word and service. Many exciting opportunities remain ahead as we lead people to know, follow and be like Christ.
To God be the glory!