The history of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church spans 49 years, from 1972 to the present. During that time, we have been served by four visiting pastors during the formative years, one interim pastor, and five full-time pastors.
We began as a “Preaching Station” in Memphis in 1972 with a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) pastor visiting once each month from Nashville. Our status was changed to an “Exploratory Mission” in November, 1972 with the pastor from Nashville conducting worship services three weeks a month and a WELS pastor from Huntsville, AL covering the fourth week. The WELS General Board for Home Missions granted us “Full Mission” status on May 8, 1973 and permission to call a full-time pastor. So, the visiting pastoral arrangement ended when our first full-time resident pastor was installed on August 5, 1973. During these early years, worship services were held in members’ homes, the Ramada Inn, the Naval Air Station in Millington, the Parkway Village Athletic Club, and the Raleigh Kiwanis Club Community House. Ground breaking for our present sanctuary located on four acres of land occurred in September 1977. The first worship service in the new church took place on March 5, 1978. Architects deemed the contemporary design of our church building worthy of professional acclaim. An education/fellowship building of complementary architecture was added to the sanctuary in 1998 to enlarge our church facility to its present structure.
Three weeks after our first full-time pastor was installed, on August 26, 1973, the name Gloria Dei Lutheran Church was approved by the congregation as the name of our church. Gloria Dei, pronounced Glory-uh Day-ē, is Latin for “Glory to God”. Although certainly an appropriate name for a church, we are one of only three churches in the WELS synod so named.
One of the most striking features of our church is a large stained glass window on the wall above the altar that was installed in 1986. The window frame consists of an eight-foot diameter wooden circle with a Greek cross centered on the circular frame. Four panels of stained glass are mounted in the open areas where the cross intersects the circular frame. Each pane depicts a symbol for one of the four gospels of the New Testament. The gospel of Matthew is depicted by a "man" to remind us Jesus became a man, like us, so He could bear our sins. The gospel of Mark is depicted by a "lion" to remind us that Jesus came as the true King who rules His people with unending love. The gospel of Luke is depicted by a "bull" to remind us of the Old Testament sacrifices which foreshadowed the perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice of the Lord on the cross. The gospel of John is depicted by an "eagle" to remind us of what awaits, in heaven, for all who trust God’s promise of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.