Concordia is a Latin word that means "harmony." During the harmony that prevailed in our nation following World War II, Christians from Zion Lutheran Church in Bethalto looked to the neighboring area of Cottage Hills to begin Christian mission work. They started a Sunday School ministry in the Cottage Hills grade school under the lay leadership of Jack Q. Zimmermann and Roland Klopmeier. Students from Concordia Seminary under the leadership of Zion's pastor, Rev. W. G. Bruegmann, provided spiritual guidance. In March of 1946 Lenten worship services began at the grade school. Following Lent Sunday mornings services began. Vacation Bible School was held for the first time that summer. As more children and adults became part of this ministry in Cottage Hills, the member of Zion realized a building was needed for this mission work. Ground was broken on Feb. 20, 1949. Zion called Rev. Erwin Kolb as Assistant Pastor to oversee its mission in Cottage Hills. Eighteen members of Zion were given a general transfer to form the nucleus of what would be a new Lutheran congregation called "Concordia" in Cottage Hills. Concordia was received as a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missiouri Synod on October 17, 1949.
The congregation's second bulding, a house for its pastor, was built next to the church in 1952. By then Rev. Robert Bentz had become Zion's Assistant Pastor with responsibility for Concordia. On May 1, 1956, Zion turned over Concordia's church building to the congregation debt-free. Concordia became an independent congregation. Rev. Bentz was called to serve as Concordia's first full time pastor. Concordia continued to grow during the late 50's and early 60's under the care of Rev. Edgar Croll. More space was need for the ministry of worship and Christian eduction that Concordia had undertaken. In August 1961, a Building Committee began plans for a new church to be built next to the existing structure. Ground was broken on November 11, 1962. March 2, 1963 was the date the cornerstone was laid. The congregation celebrated the dedication of its new house of worship on June 9, 1963. The old church was remodeled and used for classrooms and office space.
Gathered around the altar and pulpit of its new building, the members of Concordia continued to expand their ministry during the last 60's and early 70's under the pastoral leadership of Rev. John Sauer and Rev. Arthur Kaul. While serving as Concordia's pastor, Pastor Kaul also served as director of our church body's Concordia Tract Mission. Evangelism outreach and ministry to young people helped increase worship attendance to over 100 per Sunday. During the mid 70's Rev. Edgar Croll returned as pastor. He guided the congregation during difficult times in the history of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Many parishes in our area were affected by a doctrinal dispute and walkout of faculty members at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Some families left Concordia to form a separate congregation. Despite turmoil, harmony would endure at Concordia. In the fall of 1975 Concordia entered the field education program of Concordia Seminary. Seminary students have assisted in worship, education, and visitation as part of their pastoral training ever since.
Concordia has been served by the following Seminarians: Paul Zabel, Wayne Pick, Allan Doering, Mark Ebert, Duncan Cox, Steve Gewecke, Kurt Van Fossen, Kevin Westergren, Mark Nebel, Alan Sommer, Thomas Eckstein, Robert Gentet, Timothy Pauls, Troy Dahlke, Richard Cody, Michael Thress, Paul Schleuter, Darin Keener, Jason Krause, Jeff Browning, and Steve Henderson.
Financial Assistance from the Southern Illinois District helped Concordia rebuild during the late 70's and early 80's. Rev. William Shimkus served as Concordia's pastor during this time of growth. Ministry boards were reorganized. The constitution was rewritten. Air conditioning was added to the church building. In July 1984, Rev. Thomas Boehm became pastor. The Education Building was improved. The debt on the building was paid. By 1988 the congregation was able to go without district subsidy. A cross in the form of our Missouri Synod logo was placed onto the front gable of the church building. The house next to the parsonage and the hillside south of it were purchased during 1989-90.
In July 1990, Rev. Mark Nebel returned to Concordia to serve now as pastor. During the next five years a new Allen Organ was purchased to assit the congregation in worship. A bell stand was erected to house the congregation's church bell. In February 1994 a gravel parking lot was created on the north side of the church as the first phase of a parking and handicap access project. The constitution was revised to reflect the expanded ministry of Concordia, which now included a Parish Nurse program. In October of 1996 Pastor Nebel accepted a call and Concordia was once again vacant.
From October 1996 until July 1997, Rev. Martin Schultz of St. Paul, Wood River, was Concordia's vacancy pastor. Replacement of all windows in the parsonage with new thermal ones was completed during 1996, along with plans to put in an elevator on the north side of the church building.
On July 20, 1997 Concordia installed Rev. Kevin Jennings as pastor. An elevator was a welcom addition in 1998. We celebrated 50 years as a congregation on May 23, 1999 with Rev. Alvin Barry, LCMS President, as our featured preacher and former pastor, Rev. Edgar Croll as Liturgist. A black-topped parking lot was created on the north side of the church during the summer of 2001. A lightning storm hit the church in the spring of 2002 and took out all of our electrical equipment. Our insurance covered replacing the organ and sound system. In June of 2003, Pastor Jennings took a call to Corpus Christi, Texas and Concordia was vacant again.
Rev. Martin Schultz agreed to be our vacancy pastor again and he served us from July 2003 until August 2004. From January of 2004 until his vacancy ended, Concordia's parsonage housed Pastor Schultz and his family after a fire in their parsonage occurred. In May of 2004, Rev. Joseph Arthur was called as our Pastor. He was installed on August 28, 2004. In September of 2005, Pastor Arthur left Pastor Schultz returned as vacancy pastor a third time. In July of 2006, Rev. Matthew Gehrke was installed as Concordia's pastor. Pastor Gehrke's first week that included a Vacation Bible School was interrupted by a large thunderstorm that did a lot of damage to the Church building. With the help of insurance, the stain glass windows were replaced, a new roof was put on the Church building, new glass doors were installed, and a lot of other work was done due to damage incurred from the storm. Despite the storm, Christian harmony continued to reign throughout His people.
Pastor Gehrke took a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Dells in November of 2014. Rev. Martin Schultz once again is our vacancy Pastor. We look forward to the day when God once again blesses us with a Pastor. We give thanks to God that Christian harmony remains upon His people gathered together in Cottage Hills at a place called Concordia!