Liz Johnson, Gift Planner
Advent Lutheran is an example of a church that began with the help from neighboring churches that wanted to see a new mission in northwest area of Houston. The original families signed the charter for Advent in 1962. Remnants of those original families are still there as a remarkable testimony of building foundations of faith within a community.
Two such families have been at Advent for almost five decades – the Leonhardts and the Cassens. Both families have provided leadership for the church in different ways, and each with different gifts used for the glory of God and the benefit of the congregation. One of the greatest gifts is the role model for encouraging their children and their children’s children to serve others through the church family. This witness is evident in the four generations still worshipping at Advent together.
The Leonhardts are a good example of passing on Christ’s love and faith. Martha and Bob were originally from the Round Top area, so their roots in Lutheranism come from the generations before them. “In the blood” as they say, they moved to Houston for work.
Once the Leonhardts established their home and their roots at Advent, they made active participation part of their lifestyle. Some years, they spent many hours of the week at church. As a close family, they all participated. Faith in God, family fun, and church life were intertwined, making worship with a caring congregation on Sundays as significant as support from the immediate family. When Bob was asked about how he thought his family would be remembered one day, he replied,
“That we were faithful members of the congregation. We loved our God and loved the wonderful people we have had the good fortune of meeting during our lives. We tried to live out our lives based on our faith commitment. Most important we believed that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Martha and Bob credit the families who were there before them, demonstrating the staying power Christ can provide.
Since the Leonhardts enjoy adult children, grandchildren and their great-grandchildren worshipping at Advent with them, it is obvious faith and family have powerful “staying power.”
As for the Cassens family, Jimmy was employed by the USDA. Early church members learned to count on him for whatever tasks the church needed and challenges the church undertook in the early days. They were invited to the church when it still met in Wainwright Elementary School before there was a campus. Just as Jimmy had served as the church council president, so have his son and grandson, serving in leadership capacities. Currently James, Jimmy’s son, is the president. One grandson is also serving on the council and another takes part in the worship services. The grandsons, now young men, show their respect to the first Cassens and honor their own faith at the church, serving and modeling what they have been taught. They learned at a young age that worship and service to others is a way in which we can touch the heart of God in response to God’s great love for us.
Angie Cassens, one of several church bearers of the history at Advent, remembers the early days of the church very well,
“Like family, we have shared the joys and trials, the highs and the lows of life together throughout these years, always depending on the Lord to get us through situations and issues. Each one of us used our gifts for the church over the years from roofing the new education wing to watching the barbeque through the night for fellowship dinners. Over the years, we have learned how to help one another as we encourage each other in the faith. God has been Good!”
Recounting the history of Advent leads you to look at the families, their lives lived, and the legacy of commitment they leave to the next generation. Advent has been blessed with the legacy of many long-term family commitments. Thank you to these families and many others for sharing their positive faith perspectives in the way they live generation-to-generation.