Victory Lutheran Church began in 1977 as a mission outgrowth of St. Peter Lutheran Church of Mesa. The mission was developed to serve the large number of retired Lutherans living in East Mesa. The temporary site of the new church was Farnsworth Hall at the corner of Recker and University, where 85 people gathered for worship on the first Sunday in October, 1975.
On April 3, 1977, the congregation was formally organized and selected the name Victory Lutheran Church. Pastor Howard Blegen was the organizing pastor. When property became available at the corner of Recker Road and University Drive, Victory Lutheran joined with the Good Samaritan Society of Sioux Falls, SD to buy the land. Fifteen acres were used for a retirement home and five acres were allocated for the church. On December 14, 1980, a new church with seating capacity for 550 and a fellowship hall for 200 was dedicated.
In its early years, the congregation ministered primarily to the retirement communities near the church. In the 80’s, younger families started moving into the area north of the church, and the congregation began offering Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and other programs to meet the needs of families with children.
In 1985, the parking lot of the church was expanded from the original 208 places to 356. In December of 1986, the congregation voted to approve a contract to build a new addition to the church. The new building, which added over 6,000 feet of space, was completed in June of 1987. It included additions to the administration area, a storage room, a conference room, a chapel that seated 100, a library, nursery space, and six multi-use education rooms.
Rev. Larry Kassebaum, arrived in 1997 and was instrumental in helping Victory continue its ministry to the seniors in the area and also increase its focus on outreach to younger families primarily through the use of technology and outreach ministry.
Victory’s facilities were further expanded in 2001 when a new 10,000 square foot Fellowship Hall with a commercial kitchen was added, along with four new offices, a clerical workroom, a library/resource room, a handicap accessible bathroom, and a beautiful tiled entryway.
More big changes at Victory took place in 2009, when the congregation voted to purchase a twenty acre lumberyard in the San Tan Valley and convert it into a new congregation under the name of Christ the Victor. This satellite congregation is currently worshiping around 115/week at its location near Hunt Highway and Arizona Farms Road. Christ the Victor became its own congregation in 2015.
In 2010, Victory took its second vote to change its affiliation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to the rapidly growing, outreach-oriented association of congregations called Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).
Victory voted on May 1, 2016 to purchase a third campus site. This new ministry site was a former Baptist church campus on the corner of University Drive and Crismon in east Mesa. This property is exactly five miles straight east of Victory’s main campus. What made the property so unique is the fact that it is not only an attractive church facility, but it is also home to a very reputable Charter School — Leading Edge Academy. The school has an enrollment of nearly 150 elementary students. Victory’s purpose in purchasing the property was to move closer to families with children in order to increase our potential to reach a younger demographic. We provided Friday Chapel services to nearly 100 children each week. The campus also provided preschool and an after school program for approximately 30 children. In 2021, the mission effort came to an end largely due to the Covid pandemic. But mission still remains a core part of Victory’s DNA.
At Victory we want to be intentional about fulfilling the command of Jesus in Acts 1:8 where he calls us to be His witnesses to Jerusalem (the congregation), Judea (our community), Samaria (regionally) and the ends of the earth (globally). As part of our commitment to this command and as our way of serving others and spreading God’s word, Victory provides outreach globally through Orchard Africa and Samaritan’s Purse. Regionally, we support the Navajo Christian School and Mission at Rock Point, AZ. Locally, Victory serves our community through a variety of ministries. Family Promise of Greater Phoenix serves families experiencing homelessness for the first time. Victory feeds and houses four families four times a year, providing many opportunities for members to serve. In collaboration with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW), Victory is home to a Food Bank, an outreach office, and twice a month houses homeless women through the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP).
Victory’s current weekly worship attendance averages about 500/week with attendance numbers ranging from near 1200 during some months in the winter to 350 in the summer. Victory prides itself on being a full- service church with major emphasis on Worship, Bible Study, Prayer, Fellowship, Service (in and beyond the congregation) and joyful, generous Giving. We like to think of ourselves as big enough to make a difference and small enough to care. We are forward-looking and are currently fleshing out our 2023 vision, which is our strategic way of planning our response to meet the changing needs of our members and our surrounding community, always offering a ministry of word and sacrament to all.