NATIVITY LUTHERAN CHURCH

179 OLD COUNTY ROAD, ROCKPORT, MAINE  04856

HISTORY

The beginnings of

Nativity Lutheran Church

start well before the

establishment of the congregation.

As Nativity began to come into existence, a number of its new members came from a small, struggling Lutheran congregation in Thomaston. This congregation was Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and was a part of the Finnish Suomi Synod. Uncertain about its future, Holy Trinity had earlier moved out of its building and was meeting in Rockland. The eventual closing of Holy Trinity provided Nativity with a strong nucleus of people to help in its establishment.

By November of 1963, the congregation had completed renovation on the building and parsonage. On November 27, Thanksgiving Eve, the first worship service was held in the new sanctuary. On March 1, 1964, Organization Day, Synod President O. Karl Olander accepted Nativity into the New England Synod of the Lutheran Church in America with a total of 74 members on the rolls. On March 10, 1964, Nativity was incorporated with the State of Maine. Pastor DeRuiter was installed on July 19, 1964 and served the congregation until June of 1965 when he left to become a chaplain in the United States Navy.

Reverend Ronald B. Wisecarver was installed as Nativity's second pastor on August 29, 1965. He served until April 1968 when he accepted a call to serve Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bangor.

Reverend George M. Stadler and his family arrived at Nativity in June 1968. Pastor Stadler brought the experience and dedication to make Nativity a viable and active congregation, and he established a vibrant Sunday school program, building on the successes of the previous pastors. This was not to be an easy task because of severe financial constraints and a small membership. However, Nativity overcame problems, paid off debts, and at the service on July 27, 1974, burned its note of indebtedness. Six years later, Nativity went off mission status.

Reverend Robert G. Gustavson arrived in October of 1986. He had graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1981 and had previously served at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Holden, Massachusetts. Pastor Gustavson served us well until he accepted a call to Emmaus Lutheran Church in Falmouth, Maine in 1994. During the time he served, we were able to reach further into the community and serve more people with needs as well as local charitable organizations. Pastor Gustavson also helped Nativity to become more involved ecumenically in the area. By 1989, our membership had increased to 156. Nativity also acquired a new pipe organ during Pastor Gustavson's leadership, and the church office became computerized. In 1988 the Nativity was part of the merger among the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America. This merger created the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is the largest Lutheran body in the United States.

Reverend Glenn Palmer came to serve Nativity in June 1995. Pastor Palmer was a newly ordained pastor, who had graduated from the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and he was also a Maine native from Bath. He served us well until he went into active duty in the Army in May 2002, as a chaplain. During that time he was able to build on the success of previous pastors as regards Nativity's outreach, ecumenical matters, and involvement in the community. Nativity was also able to modernize the sanctuary. Pastor Palmer also helped us plan for the eventual expansion of our church facility.

Reverend William Luger served as transition pastor until the arrival of Reverend Jerry LiaBraaten.

Reverend Jerry LiaBraaten came to Nativity in April 2003 after serving congregations in Virginia since 1986. Pastor LiaBraaten brought the experience to keep Nativity moving forward with efforts to increase its membership and to expand its outreach to the local community and the world. Of particular note are Nativity’s support for the Area Inter-faith Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen, Midcoast Hospitality House, and outreach to Honduras. Pastor LiaBraaten also brought the dedication required to lead the congregation in the building of a new sanctuary and additional Sunday school space. Groundbreaking took place in June 2005 and the congregation’s first worship service in the new sanctuary occurred on Sunday, July 23, 2006. During Pastor LiaBraaten’s time at Nativity, the congregation also installed a Rodgers Trillium organ in February 2005 and celebrated its 40th and 50th anniversaries. Pastor LiaBraaten retired from the ministry in June 2015.

Reverend Bruce Meyer served as transition pastor until the arrival of Reverend Wendy Anderson in May 2017.