History of Redeemer Lutheran Church
of West Bradenton
Celebrating over 50 Years!
Redeemer’s life began in 1963. The first unit was built on the present site and Kenneth Baar arrived as the first pastor. Pastor Baar and parish worker, Louise Bissel, sought out members in door to door visits. The first worship was held July 14, 1963. Redeemer was organized on October 20th with 77 confirmed and 116 baptized members as a congregation of the American Lutheran Church.
The worship center was enlarged in 1975, as the congregation grew. In 1985, more space was added (20 rooms and a large fellowship space) along with an associate pastor to emphasize the youth ministry. In 1988, Redeemer became part of the merged Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
Pastor Baar retired in 1992, after 28 years. Pastor Albert Keyser succeeded Pastor Baar becoming Redeemer’s second Senior Pastor in 1992, and he retired in 2006. Pastorial Assistant William “Bill’ Wittcopp aided Pastor Keyser and continued to serve Redeemer as a Pastoral Assistant for 18 years, with over 50 years in the ministry. Pastor Sandy Hutchens joined Redeemer in September 2018 as our Senior Pastor with over 30 years in the ministry. Pastor Sandy recently retired in July 2021. Pastor Geoffrey Coupland is our current Interim Pastor. See his detailed bio under Staff.