Our History

Christus Victor Lutheran Church began as the Bonita Springs Mission. In 1975, Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Naples, Florida saw a need: to expand its ministry into the Bonita Springs area. Putting their money into staff ministry instead of a new building, Emmanuel worked together with St. Leo’s Catholic Church to establish what would become Christus Victor Lutheran Church. The first years of this ministry took place on the campus of St. Leo’s. (We are still very grateful to the people of St. Leo’s Catholic Church and especially to Father John Foley, priest of St. Leo’s, for their willing and loving cooperation in this venture in faith!)

March 26, 1976, Pastor John Yost accepted the call to become full time missionary to the Bonita Springs area, and started his ministry May 1, 1976. Under Pastor Yost, the ministry grew into a congregation of nearly 100 before it became chartered as Christus Victor Lutheran Church. The name Christus Victor Lutheran Church was selected April 11, 1976. It is a strong name that proclaims Christ, the Victor over sin, death and the power of evil. Therefore, it became known as Christus Victor Lutheran Mission.

The Church Charter was opened September 26, 1976. February 27, 1977, a special congregational meeting was held for the adoption of the constitution, and the election of the first Church Council. Organizational Sunday was March 6, 1977, and the official closing of the Charter Members with 113 signatures took place. All money received at this service went toward the purchase of the first acre of the 4-5 acres at the proposed church site.

Christus Victor was accepted into the Synod on April 29, 1977. Pastor John Yost resigned as Mission Minister on June 15, 1977, accepted a call from Christus Victor on June 16, 1977, and was installed as pastor November 6, 1977. Soon thereafter, Pastor Yost witnessed the signing of the contract for the new site. On January 27, 1980, a Building Fund dinner and congregational meeting was held.  And on June 1, 1980, ground was broken for the new sanctuary!

November 30, 1980, was the last worship service at St. Leo’s Catholic Church. December 7, 1980, was the first worship service in the new church, just five years after the first service was held at St. Leo’s. Membership continued to grow, so a second Sunday service was initiated. The much needed new sanctuary was dedicated on March 8, 1981.

Christus Victor steadily grew, through three pastoral changes. Accepting another call, Pastor Yost was succeeded by Rev. James Edward Dukes, Jr. September 11, 1983. Pastor Dukes resigned in 1987, and was succeeded by the Rev. Theodore E. Wendt, installed on November 13, 1988.

In early 1996, Rev. Thomas J. Slater, current pastor, accepted a call to become pastor of Christus Victor. Under the enthusiasm of Pastor Slater, and with the help of many equally diligent members, Christus Victor has continued to flourish and grow, extending itself with a helping hand into the surrounding communities, and organizations in need.

Sunday, April 5, 1998, eleven years to the day after burning the mortgage on their existing building, Christus Victor Lutheran Church gathered to break ground on a new 1.3 million dollar project. February 6, 2000, the new sanctuary was dedicated with an all-day celebration and dinner.DSC00272

As with the foresight of Emmanuel Lutheran Church when they saw a need for a worship site in Bonita, Christus Victor Lutheran Church extended its presence into Naples, and saw a need for training seminarians for the ministry. Under the direction of Pastor Slater, Christus Victor began an internship program with Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. In August of 1997 Christus Victor hosted its first intern. At the present time we are enjoying our 17th intern.  Our first 15 interns are ordained and serving churches in the ELCA.  Our 16th is currently completing his final year in seminary.

Under the leadership of Pastor Slater, our congregation has grown to more than 500 members and associate members, with a winter attendance of over 600 per Sunday.


Christus Victor Lutheran Church