• 06/87 – Mission Developer arrives (Keith Hunsinger)
  • 10/87 – First worship service held at local school
  • 10/89 – Officially chartered as an ELCA congregation
  • 05/90 – First “called” pastor arrives (Daniel Coy)
  • 1991 – First building (current Fellowship Hall) is dedicated 
  • 07/94 – Second “called” pastor arrives (Robert Wise)
  • 2004 – Second building (current Sanctuary and offices) is dedicated
  • 05/19 to 04/21 – Congregation has two interim pastors (Jeff Gross and Carol Solovitz)
  • 05/21 – Third “called” pastor arrives (Lois Ann Sorensen) 


          On June 15, 1987, Pastor Keith Hunsinger, a Mission Developer of the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) arrived to establish a second congregation in Lakeland.  The first one was Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, established 1929.  

          The new worship community held its first service on Reformation Sunday (Oct 25, 1987) at what is now Lake Gibson Middle School.  The name “Reformation” stuck!  That same year, the LCA and another predecessor denomination (American Lutheran Church) began forming the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

          In May of 1988, the ELCA’s “Loan Fund” (which helped facilitate land acquisition for new congregations) purchased 10 acres in North Lakeland.  This property included an orange grove and a small house.  By August of 1998, the small home was serving as office and sanctuary for the fledgling worship community.  By the end of 1988, the ELCA Loan Fund sold-off approximately half of this property.  The sold portion eventually became home to a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, whereas the retained portion was sold to Reformation Lutheran Church.

          In October 1989, on Reformation Sunday, Reformation Lutheran Church was officially chartered as a congregation of the ELCA.  It became part of what is now the Florida-Bahamas Synod (a grouping of congregations similar to a diocese or district in other denominations). 

          As a charted congregation, Reformation could “call” (officially select) a pastor.   In May 1990, they called and received Pastor Daniel Coy.  Coy shepherded the congregation for approximately three years.

          In 1991, the congregation purchased a three-module manufactured building.  It was dedicated on Reformation Day, complete with stained (plexi) glass windows, and became sanctuary building, while the house served as a fellowship hall. 

          The year 1993 brought some unfortunate changes.  Pastor Coy moved on to another church and, due to water leaks, a full roof-over of the sanctuary building was needed.

          In July 1994, Robert Wise was installed as the next “called” pastor.  During his tenure, there was a proliferation of ministries and construction of another building.  Church membership and attendance varied widely during these years.  At the end of 2018, there were 88 active members and an average weekly attendance 77, with the congregation consisting of mostly retirement-age members and friends.

          In 2000, the congregation began a campaign to build a new sanctuary building. By 2003, the land had been cleared, the old house torn down, and construction was underway.  The new building opened in 2004.  The three-module building was transformed into a Fellowship Hall, with its flooring and other features subsequently updated.

          Pastor Wise departed on April 30, 2019.  The congregation was shepherded by two interim pastors: first Pastor Jeff Gross and then Pastor Carol Solovitz.  They served from May 6, 2019 to April 30, 2021.  During their tenures, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation and impacted the congregation, causing a temporary shut-down of many in-person activities and accelerating the implementation of online alternatives.  For example, in a matter of months, the congregation went from borrowing someone’s cellphone to having a webcam and dedicated computer for a more robust Facebook Live worship presence.  Council meetings and much of the “call process” (interviews and other meetings associated with selecting a pastor) moved online to Zoom.   

          On April 18, 2021, Reformation Lutheran Church called its next pastor and did so in a manner expressing confidence in the future of theological training for the ELCA.  Lois Ann Sorensen, a “second career” pastor and recent graduate of the Master of Divinity distributed learning program of Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minnesota) began serving the congregation on May 1, 2021.  She first provided pastoral care as a licensed lay leader (authorized by the bishop of the Florida-Bahama Synod) until she was formally ordained by the bishop at her “home” congregation of Grace Lutheran Church in Tampa, Florida on June 13, 2021.  She was installed as pastor by an assistant to the bishop at Reformation Lutheran Church on June 20, 2021.

          The congregation is continuing to offer a hybrid worship experience (in-person and Facebook Live) that began during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In-person gatherings, such as “coffee hour” and choir practice, have resumed.  We continue to reinstitute and add activities, such as the annual “Blessing of the Animals” in early October.  Our community outreach efforts now include a monthly meal-packing for local homeless people and their dogs, monthly and holiday food collections for Talbot House, a back-to-school supply drive for Padget Elementary School students, a Christmas toy drive for local Guardian Ad Litem clients, and special collections for disaster relief efforts and a sister congregation’s weekend backpack feeding program.   In addition, we now serve the community by allowing AARP Tax Aide (a February – April tax clinic), Iglesia Oasis de Esperenza (a Spanish-speaking nondenominational congregation), and several homeowner associations to meet in our facilities.