By Elaine Henson
Kure Memorial Lutheran Church Part I
117 North 3rd Street in Kure Beach is the address of Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. It is a block off of busy Fort Fisher Boulevard and a block from K Avenue. The brick church building opened its doors for a dedication service on June 26, 1955, but the congregation had its beginnings before that.
Kure Lutheran’s story actually begins during the war years of 1942-43 and not as a church but with nondenominational Sunday School classes at the home of Mrs. W. O. Fickling located near the intersection of S. Fort Fisher Boulevard and K Avenue. The adults who came were taught by retired Lutheran minister, Rev. B. D. Wessinger.
As the town filled with soldiers and their families, defense and shipyard workers and those with other war related jobs, the Sunday School outgrew Mrs. Fickling’s home. The Sunday School began meeting in a vacant store building owned by Lawrence C. Kure.
Founders of Kure Beach, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Kure, Sr., had set aside land on 3rd Street for the time when a Lutheran church could be organized. Hans and Ellen Kure deeded the land to St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Wilmington for safe keeping until the time arose.
In 1946, the Sunday School group reorganized as Kure Memorial Chapel with a constitution and soon after St. Matthews deeded the 3rd Street property to them as a nondenominational church. Pastor Wessinger, Mrs. Fickling and Lawrence Kure began fund raising for a building with fish suppers and the like.
Soon they were able to purchase two Army barracks from Fort Fisher. They put them together in the shape of a T and added a vestibule on the front replete with a steeple. The converted barracks were dedicated as Kure Memorial Chapel on December 1, 1946. Pastor Wessinger officiated assisted by Rev. Edwin Carter from Carolina Beach Methodist Church and retired Salvation Army Major John O’Beinne.
The first trustees of Kure Memorial Chapel were Fred Schenk, Linwood Flowers and Lewis E. Weinberg. The first wedding in the Chapel was on July 13, 1949 as Oscar B. Wrenn and Anna Lee Lewis were married by Rev. Edwin Carter and Dexter Moser. A. E. “Punky” Kure and Jean A. Kure were married there in 1952.
Sunday School was held every Sunday with a church service once a month held by Pastor Wessinger until ill health forced him to resign. In the summer of 1949 Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary student Dexter Moser conducted services every Sunday. In winter other students from the seminary, located in Columbia, South Carolina, held monthly services. In the summers of 1950 and 1951 seminarian Jack Martin conducted Sunday services.
Next month: Kure Memorial Lutheran Church, Part II