History of Grace Lutheran Church
Grace Lutheran Church came into being by the Spirit of God, that compelled the pastors and leaders of St. James Lutheran Church in Still Valley, to offer afternoon services for Lutherans settling along the Delaware River. These were conducted near the former Phillipsburg Furnace. A group of 40 individuals purchased property at the corner of McKeen and Mercer Streets. A frame chapel was built and dedicated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany, January 9, 1870.
Because of the limited resources of the young congregation, several pastors over a period of time needed to teach at area colleges to supplement their income. In 1882 a building committee studied the possibility of moving to a more desirable site. A lot measuring 70′ x 200′ was purchased on South Main Street, and the building was of frame construction. Within the first 22 years the membership had grown from 40 to about 230 members.
In 1884 electric lights were installed, pew rents were discounted, and an envelope system was introduced to finance the programs of the congregation. Prior to 1926, construction of a basement under the church annex added needed space for church activities. Several years later, members and friends of the church enlarged the basement still further because of the increase of Sunday School enrollment.
By 1952, a program was begun to build a new church facility. Rather than build at the South Main Street location, the congregation voted to sell its property and relocate at its present site. Ground was broken on August 4, 1957. The new Grace Lutheran Church was dedicated on November 23, 1958. In May, 1962, the spire was added to the church building, and on July 14, ground was broken for an Education Building. Eight stained glass windows were dedicated within a span of several years.
The above brief history does not fully tell of the sacrifice and the work of countless members and pastors in the development of this congregation. Many of them went far beyond the call of Christian Duty, in giving of their time, talent, and financial resources.
As in the beginning, that same Spirit of the Lord has brought about the sharing of the good news of Christ to our part of New Jersey. That Spirit continues to bear fruit in the dedication and efforts of those who have picked up “mantle” and continue to be (in Luther’s words) the “little Christs” to God’s world.
Pastors of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Rev. Prof. Matthias H. Richards, D.D. – 1870-1872
The Rev. W. O. Cornman – 1872-1873
The Rev. Revere F. Weidner, D.D. – 1873-1878
The Rev. John W. Mattern – 1878-1882
The Rev. G. D. Bernheim, D.D. – 1883-1892
The Rev. Joseph Stump, D.D. – 1892-1915
The Rev. Herbert A. Weaver – 1916-1926
The Rev. Charles K. Fegley – 1926-1932
The Rev. Webster K. Reinert – 1932-1946
The Rev. C Wilfred Steffy – 1946-1954
The Rev. Warren S. Harding – 1955-1966
Mr. John Conz, Intern Pastor – 1966
The Rev. Joseph Molnar III – 1966-1999
The Rev. Llyn Lantz – 2000-2007
The Rev. Patricia Olausen – 2008-31 January 2009
The Rev. Richard Kiesling (interim) – 2009-August 2010
The Rev. Robert Weber – August 2010-August 2016