History
 

In 1918, Pastor F. C. Esemann of Trinity, Racine, organized the "Lutheran Mission Society", composed of members of St John's and Trinity congregations.  With the aid of this society, two lots were purchased in the "West Racine" district, at the corner of Washington and West Lawn Avenues.  A small chapel was built and services were held on Sunday afternoons with Pastors Esemann and J. F. Boerger of St. John's taking charge.

In 1919, eight families from Trinity, having moved to West Racine, received their release in order to start a new congregation.  Later that year, a call was extended to Pastor Herman W. Bartz.  He was installed on December 8, 1919, having just completed his tour of duty with the Armed Forces.  Earlier in 1919, Mrs. Louise Kahl had established a Sunday school, and for many years she offered her time and talents to the instruction of children.

And the church grew.  By 1926, increased membership made it necessary to add a 30-foot extension to the rear of the original building, increasing capacity to 200 people.  Grace was given $50.00 per month from 1919 through 1927 from the mission board to keep the doors open.

Growing pains surfaced again and a Building Committee was organized.  They began raising the funds and making plans for a new church building.

Groundbreaking for the present church occurred on May 25, 1941 with the dedication services following only 10 months later on March 22, 1942.

In March 1946, Pastor Elmer Eggold was installed as an assistant pastor, serving until 1949.

In 1953, Pastor Gerold R. Martin joined Grace in a part time role while serving as principal of Racine Lutheran High School.  By 1957 the rapid growth of church membership and Sunday school made it necessary to call pastor Martin to be the second full time pastor.  He accepted and was installed on September 29, 1957.

Under the leadership of Pastors Bartz and Martin, both the church and the Sunday school membership continued to grow rapidly.  More room was needed for the Sunday school.  In 1959, another Building Committee put on a fundraising campaign, which raised over

$200,000 in cash and pledges over a two-week period.  Architect A. J. Seitz, drew up plans for the new educational unit, and on September 11, 1960, groundbreaking ceremonies were held.  One year later, on September 10, 1961, the new unit was dedicated.  The mortgage to the educational unit was burned in 1969.

In August 1963, Pastor Thomas Streiter, a teacher at Lutheran High, agreed to help with the many pastoral duties at Grace. This was in addition to his teaching duties at Lutheran High. Pastor Edwin Metz, a faculty member at Lutheran High School helped to fill our pulpit in the absence of one of our pastors.

In May 1965 Pastor Bartz became Pastor Emeritus after forty-six years of ministry at Grace.  He passed to his eternal rest in 1974.  In 1965, Pastor William Robinson accepted our call as Associate Pastor, a position he held until January 1969.

We then branched out.  In 1966, mission church property on Highway 11 was acquired and in 1967, a Mission Church Steering Committee was formed, Ground was broken in June 1968 with the first service being held over a year later on September 7, 1969, at the new Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church.

Pastor Donald Heiderich was installed at Grace in September 1969; he resigned in June 1971.

In 1970, Grace joined Concordia School Association with Holy Cross (Racine) and Faith (Sturtevant).  The Association controls and operates Concordia Lutheran Elementary School (K-8), and gives every family at Grace the opportunity to give its children a Christian elementary education.  Grace is also an association member of Lutheran High School.

In December 1971, Pastor Melvin E. Thur was installed and was instrumental in forming an active Evangelism Program within Grace congregation.

In November 1974, grace contracted Schlicker organ Co. of Buffalo, New York, to build a pipe organ to our specifications.  Professor Hugo Gigrke of Concordia College, Milwaukee, designed the two manual and pedal pipe organ.  It contains 27 ranks, totaling 1,446 pipes and was dedicated on Trinity Sunday, June 5, 1977.

One of the highlights of 1976 was the arrival of the Vuong Family, a displaced North Vietnamese family whom our church sponsored.  The Vuong family arrived as avowed Buddhists, but the Holy Spirit touched them and in June 1978, the entire family was baptized.  In August, 1979?, they moved to California.

Braille Work Center No. 94 was dedicated at Grace in February 1976.  With Barbara Gerber as coordinator, it was the first Braille Work Center established in Wisconsin.  Since the first training session in December, 1975, thousands of books have been printed, bound and sent to places around the world.

July 1977, Steve Pickel was installed as Director of Christian Education, a position he held until spring of 1981.

August 1982, Pastor Martin retired and Grace celebrated his 50th year in the ministry. He and his wife Dorothy move to a retirement village in Arkansas.  He passed to his eternal rest in 1999.

On July 3, 1983, Pastor Randal A. Poppe was installed as associate pastor.  Pastor Poppe was very active with the youth and "young at heart", even taking groups to Germany.  He started a Bible Study Group that meets at a restaurant every Thursday for food for body and soul, in 1985.  (We are still meeting in 2006)

Pastor Melvin E. Thur accepted a call to Iowa in June 1984.

A call was accepted by Pastor Ronald A. Nichols, he was installed October 28, 1984.He was instrumental in forming an active Bible Study life at Grace with Monday Nights and Sunday Mornings seeing the largest study groups.

In anticipation of our 75th Anniversary an extensive remodeling program was undertaken in 1988-89.  When asbestos was discovered in the ceilings of the Educational Unit, a more elaborate renovation was planned.  Following removal of the asbestos, new ceilings and bi-fold doors were installed, as were new energy efficient florescent lighting fixtures and carpeting throughout the entire structure. The interior was painted, and new furniture placed in the offices, new Sunday school office, Martin Room, Bartz Fellowship Hall, Youth Room, Nursery, and Sunday school classrooms.  A foyer and cloakroom were added to the Washington Avenue entrance, and the former library was turned into an office equipment and supply room. This project was dedicated to God's Glory with thankful hearts on April 30, 1989.

In 1994 we celebrated our 75th Anniversary of the founding of our congregation. We have stood these seventy-five years "in the richness of His grace" as the ministry of the Gospel has been applied to us, and then as faithful disciples, through us.

After a two-year vacancy, on July 11th, 1999, Pastor Thomas Chryst was installed.  He has been very active with our youth and has brought new energies and great knowledge to Grace.

2000 brought continued progress, including paying off the large mortgage, the installation of a parking lot and the installation of air conditioning in the worship area.

Grace was able to purchased another house on Monroe Avenue.  It is now being rented, with plans to enlarge the parking lot at a later date.

In September of 2001, a new lighted out-door sign was purchased.  Grace Lutheran Church shall be able to share HIS WORD, day or nights to the many people who pass by on busy Washington & West Lawn Avenues.