It was 1962 and Andover was like the rest of the country — saddened by the death of Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe, wondering if a guy named Johnny Carson would last as “The Tonight Show” host and watching as President John F. Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Closer to home, the buzz was all about a new building in town. Residents wondered if that popular orange-roofed restaurant of the time — Howard Johnson’s — was coming to Andover.
There was a brand new one-story building going up on South Main Street (Route 28) and its roof tiles were an orangey color.
It wasn’t Howard Johnson’s after all. Rather, it was a new church being built.
After two temporary locations in town, the fold-up altar-on- wheels was no more as Faith Lutheran Church was about to become a permanent resident at 360 South Main St., just south of Phillips Academy.
The church had grown humbly, starting in 1962 with just 73 charter members meeting for worship service in the basement assembly room at Pike School in Andover. The following year, the congregation was officially formed.
”We had temporary space at Phillips and Pike School and the altar was rolled out and then put away until the next Sunday. Finally, we were breaking ground for a permanent home ... it was exciting,” Church Council President Kathy Faulk of Andover said.
Fifty years later, that little white church has grown tremendously, both in membership and physical space. The church now boasts a nursery, a choir room, office space and a new kitchen and a congregation topping 850 members. It is considered the largest Lutheran church in New England.
This Saturday night, about 300 of those members are expected to attend a sold-out 50th anniversary party at Hillview Country Club in North Reading.
Part two of the celebration will be the church’s Day of Service on Saturday, Oct. 5.