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Wheat Ridge was founded in 1905 as the Evangelical Lutheran Sanitarium in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Its mission was to minister to Lutherans suffering from tuberculosis. In addition to operating the sanitarium, it initiated training programs for institutional chaplains and social workers, provided devotional literature for other tuberculosis sanatoria, and funded pilot projects for Lutheran social service agencies.
In 1961, because of new outpatient treatment options for TB patients, the Colorado property was sold to a separate local Lutheran hospital association. The proceeds from the sale were used to create an endowment for its “seeding” ministry and the organization was named the Wheat Ridge Foundation.
In 1991 the name of the organization was officially changed from Wheat Ridge Foundation to Wheat Ridge Ministries. The name was changed to better reflect the nature of the organization–to enlist God’s people to actively support a servant ministry of health and hope throughout the world.
The Evangelical Lutheran Sanatorium in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, was instituted in 1905 by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod for Lutherans who had contracted tuberculosis, then known as “the white plague.” In 1910, the Sanatorium decided to offer a special Christmas seal to Lutheran congregations as a fund-raising campaign. The Walther League, a youth organization sponsored by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, was influential in establishing and supporting the Wheat Ridge Sanatorium. The Walther League agreed to distribute the seals to its members’ individual churches in 1911, and it was reported that the youth could have easily sold twice as many seals as they had been given, because the demand was so great.
The success of the first campaign encouraged the Sanatorium Association to continue distributing seals every Christmas, and each year the funds raised continued to increase. In 1927, the International Walther League assumed ownership and control of the Lutheran Sanatorium and the revenues from Christmas Seals continued to be an important part of the Sanatorium’s growth and work.
Since the closing of the sanatorium in 1961, the support provided by generous donors to this campaign helps Wheat Ridge Ministries seed new ministries of health and hope around the world…all in the name of the healing Christ.