This Is Our Story

Christ Memorial Lutheran Church traces its history back to the early part of 1957 when six families living in Chester County began discussing the need for a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in this area. On May 5, 1957, Sunday School was held for the first time in the Monday Afternoon Club in Malvern, PA. The following Sunday, May 12th, worship service was conducted for the first time in that building.


At the urging of these families, the Eastern District issued a call for a Missionary-at-large for the Malvern/Paoli area. The Call was extended to Rev. Mark Heilman, Cortland, NY. Pastor Heilman accepted that call and served this congregation as pastor until his retirement in 1987. Pastor Heilman remained in this area after his retirement and was active in our congregation until his passing on January 1, 2014. He will be missed.


The development of the Paoli Mission continued under Pastor Heilman's direction and rapidly outgrew its temporary quarters. By 1960, the congregation, now named Christ Memorial, had purchased land on our present site at the corner of Paoli Pike and Line Road and made plans for a permanent facility. Worship was held for the first time in this new building on Sunday, April 1, 1962. It became obvious almost at once that the new facilities would not be able to handle the needs of the Christian Education programs. Ground was broken in 1967 for an addition, which was dedicated June 16, 1968 and provided a Narthex, seven classrooms and a larger kitchen.

A Nursery School Program was initiated in the Fall of 1974. In the Fall of 1981, the school expanded into our new facility, named the Heilman Educational Building, which was dedicated March 7, 1982 in honor of our beloved Pastor and spiritual leader. Primary Grades were added until 1993 when the school's focus converted back to Pre-School and Kindergarten.


In 1981 Pastor Joe Fairchild was called to assist Pastor Heilman and to concentrate in the areas of Evangelism and Youth Ministry. He left in 1986 having accepted a call to Easton, PA.

In August of 1987, in anticipation of Pastor Heilman's retirement, Christ Memorial issued a call to Rev. John Brunner of Wausau, WI. Pastor Brunner was installed on October 26, 1987. Pastor Brunner served Christ Memorial for 13 years only leaving to serve as President of the Eastern District.


Upon Pastor Brunner's leaving, Rev. David Goodine, Executive Director of Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries, served as our Vacancy Pastor from September 1, 2000 until April 7, 2002 when Rev. Andrew Toopes was installed as our pastor. Pastor Toopes served until May 1, 2006.


Following Pastor Toopes, Rev. Mark Jurkowski was installed April 16, 2007 and served as pastor until May 31, 2012. With the departure of Pastor "Skee", the congregation was served by an Interim Pastor, Rev. John H. Weldon, who was installed on August 26, 2012 and left in August of 2014.

In addition to its pastors, Christ Memorial enjoyed enthusiastic Lay Leadership from its very beginning. Such caliber can be seen in our Music Ministry Program where Ed and Naomi Barrow, one of the founding families of Christ Memorial, have used their time and talents. Naomi was the church first pianist/organist until her retirement. Her husband, Ed, now a retired professor of music from West Chester State University had used his talent to lead the Handbell and Adult choirs while also creating original compositions for the choirs to preformed. In November 2012, he retired, stepping down from those positions. However we are now blessed with Susan Bell, who leads the Children Choir and has taken over the Handbell Choir and with Bret Rhoades who became the director of the Adult Choir.


The caliber of that leadership and the commitment of the people of this congregation, the support of each other in prayer and the desire to make and impact on this community in the Name of Jesus, has made this an exciting congregation of which to be a part!

In addition to its fine Pre-School, Sunday School and Youth programs, Christ Memorial's Vacation Bible School is well known throughout the area and serves close to 500 children and adults each year.


Christ Memorial is also on the forefront of Adult Christian Education offering Sunday and Weekday Bible Studies and is constantly seeking ways to become even more responsive to the needs of the Christians in today's world.


As we look ahead to our future, may our Christian faith foster an even stronger bond among us. May we, through our fellowship together, continue to grow and strengthen our congregation.