The history of Ascension Lutheran Church began on a summer day in 1951 when two devoted women, Mrs. Ella Day, a parish worker, and Mrs. Harlie Roberts, began a survey in the Scottsdale area to determine the interest and need for a Lutheran church. On December 13, 1951 the first organizational meeting was held in a rented house on Indian School Road. Seven confirmed members were present. Pastor Charles Schmitz, area mission director and pastor of American Lutheran church, conducted this meeting at which time the congregation received its name, Ascension. This rented house served as the place for services until the first sanctuary was erected.


On January 15, 1952 the congregation was officially organized with sixteen members. The property for the first church was purchased from Mrs. Ella Mae Foley for $5000 and the ground was broken for the first church building at 75th Street and Indian School Road February 10, 1952.

In 1953 the confirmed membership had reached 128 and by December of 1956 it was 160. 1957 brought the membership total to 227, by 1958 it had reached 300 and had passed 500 by 1960. At the time of the construction of the new church in Paradise Valley in 1964 the membership was 750. During the time Ascension was at the Indian School Road location they had supplied a substantial nucleus of members for four other congregations in the area.


In 1960, because of a lack of room for expansion at the Indian School location, the congregation voted to purchase a ten-acre site at 7100 North Mockingbird Lane in Paradise Valley. Ground was broken March 3, 1963 for the new church building.

Frank Lloyd Wright Associates at Taliesin West designed the new structure. William Wesley Peters was the architect of record, in conjunction with John Rattenbury and Charles Monthooth The worship center is constructed in the shape of a pentagon, which Mr. Wright considered to be a perfect geometric figure reflecting the perfection of God. The pentagon theme is carried out in the worship center in the lights, altar rail, door handles, and baptismal font.

The focal point of the sanctuary is the stunning cross rising 40 feet above the altar directing attention to the pentagon shaped stained glass window above the altar.
In its present configuration the combined seating capacity of the sanctuary and balcony is 800.
A four manual Möller pipe organ was purchased for $52,900 in 1961. In today’s market the estimated replacement cost of the organ would be over $500,000.


 Ascension Lutheran Church 1964 – Present

One of the striking features of Ascension Lutheran Church is the 145 foot steeple. Its installation was quite a challenge and was accomplished with the aid of a helicopter.

The new church was dedicated on April 12, 1964. Paul L. Baumgartner was pastor of the Ascension congregation and R. C. Berendsen was president of the church council at the time of the dedication.


One of the earliest interior photographs of the new building:

Church interior ca. 1964


Charter members of Ascension:

Mr. & Mrs. Ole Almhjell, Carol, Paul, and Marcene

Mr. & Mrs. Edwad Anderson, Edward III, and Richard

Mr. & Mrs. Harold Frank, Judy, Faith, Diane, and Susan

Mrs. Lorene Gibbons

Mrs. Rachel Williams

Mrs. Eva Holliday, Georgia, and Nancy

Mr. & Mrs. Harry Poppe, Kenneth and Donald

Mrs. Edwin H. Raney, Keith and James

Mrs. Marion Schultzman, Larry and Connie

Mr. Luther Wasbotten, Bill and Gail

Mrs. James Hutchins

Mr. & Mrs. Ted Hansen

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Roy Benson, Wanda and Kenny

Mrs. R. W. Routt, Dixie, Judy and David

Mr. & Mrs. Merle Valentine, John and Richard

Miss Jean Hansen, Patricia, Joy and Barbara

Pastor and Mrs. Arnold Schlueter, by acceptance of call

Pastors of Ascension

Arnold C. Schlueter, Senior Pastor     May 1952 – June 1954

Harold T. Grabau, Senior Pastor     April 1955 – August 1957

Paul L. Baumgartner, Senior Pastor      October 1957 – August 1965

Conrad S. Braaten, Senior Pastor      October 1965 – March 1987

David R. Kupka, Senior Pastor      April 1987 – November 1998

Randall G. Olson, Senior Pastor      August 1999 – May 2007

Ryan M. Hersch, Senior Pastor    September 2008 – September 2017


Previous Ministry Associates of Ascension

Dan Bloomquist, Intern

Charles W. Sundry, Associate Pastor

Joel B. Erickson, Associate Pastor

Steven P. Bergeson, Associate Pastor

Robert T. Mooney, Associate Pastor

Thomas C. Stephens, Associate Pastor

Joel Bjerkestrand, Intern

Harold Usgaard, Intern

Brent Maxwell, Family Life Minister

Kate Adelman, Associate in Ministry

Charlie Van Dyke, Pastoral Associate

M. Jayne Baker, Deacon