The FIRST HUNGARIAN LUTHERAN CHURCH, chartered on 23 Apr. 1906 in Cleveland, established the first Hungarian orphanage in America in 1913. Its first pastor was Steven Ruzsa (1907-23). The congregation initially met in a church building on Rawlings Ave., purchased in 1907. Within 6 years, they had founded the orphanage (also on Rawlings) and the Martin Luther Sick & Death Benefit Society. By 1923 the church supported a Lutheran seminary in Budapest, Hungary. In 1941 the congregation moved to a new Transylvanian Gothic-style church at 2830 Martin Luther King Blvd., at Buckeye Rd. Kossuth Hall, which housed educational work, was dedicated 21 Nov. 1954; the congregation then numbered more than 1,000. In 1949-50 the church sponsored the immigration of approx. 200 displaced persons, and in 1956 the immigration of over 100 Hungarian Revolution "freedom fighters." The First Hungarian Lutheran Church has preserved Hungarian culture, sponsoring at first an annual Grape Harvest Festival, and, by 1967, the annual "Hungarian Heritage Days." Pastors have included Ladislaus Ruzsa (1923-34), Andor Leffler, Ph.D. (1934-54), and Gabor Brachna, D.D. (1955-76). Frank Juhasz Shepherd was pastor in 1994 with membership reaching approx. 120.


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