OUR HISTORY

 

The first Lutheran worship service in Cloverdale was held on August 7, 1949. The service was conducted by the Rev. Martin Russert in the Cloverdale Grange Hall. Throughout 1949 and 1950 the Rev. Richard Holtzen joined Russert in serving Cloverdale Lutherans as a preaching station. This arrangement was discontinued in 1951. However, on January 27,1952, worship services were resumed with the Rev. Al Young from Ukiah officiating. Fifty-one worshippers attended that service. On February 14 of that year, Grace Lutheran Church was organized with forty-four charter members. The organizational meeting was held in the home of Mr. Ted Buesing. The congregation worshipped in the Preston church.

The early members of Grace were devout in their faith in Christ and earnest in their endeavor to sustain their new congregation. Congregational officers were immediately elected, the constitution and by-laws developed and auxiliary organizations formed. The Mary-Martha Circle organized then is still a strong society in the parish today. By Sunday, March 29, 1953, ten young people were received into membership by rite of confirmation.

The Rev. Richard Wagner of Houston, Texas, assumed the pastorate of Grace October 4, 1953, at which time he was also ordained into the ministry. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, June 5, 1953. In September of 1954 he began serving Lutherans in Healdsburg as well as continuing to serve Grace. In May of 1958 he accepted a call to Bellevue, Washington.

On the afternoon of September 12, 1954, one hundred worshippers attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the present church and parish hall of Grace Lutheran. Two men, Bert Petersen and Arvid Johnson, were hired to work full-time on the building. These men were assisted by 2,500 hours of volunteer labor from members. The total cost of the structure was $25,000. Eighteen thousand of this amount was borrowed from Synod's Church Extension Fund. George Plantz of Concord, California designed the church, standing on 1.53 acres. On Sunday, April 24, 1955, the building was dedicated with the Rev. AI Young of Ukiah the guest speaker.

Following a brief vacancy, the Rev. August C. Stahnke became the Pastor of Grace in June of 1958. Having graduated from Concordia Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, he served various parishes before coming to Cloverdale. The Mission Board of the District called him to begin mission work in Santa Maria, California, and in October of 1959 he left Cloverdale to begin that work.

On October 2, 1960, the Rev. Lawrence Andersen was installed as the Pastor of Grace. He came to Cloverdale from Marion, Kansas. He served as the Pastor of Grace until April 30, 1978, at which time he accepted a call to Wasco, California.

In October of 1965 an organization was formed at Grace which was to make a lasting impact on the community of Cloverdale as well as the congregation. This was a group of Senior Citizens, members of the congregation, who called themselves the Keen Agers. Aside from meeting regularly in each other's homes for mutual spiritual and social support, they bent their energies toward doing projects within the congregation and community. Today the existence of King's Valley, a retirement facility for Senior Citizens, is a continuing testimony of the dedicated, caring attitude of the Keen Agers. They were the initial "sponsoring agent" required by the federal Housing and Urban Development program to develop funding for this facility. The Keen Agers were an active force in the parish for 13 years, during which time they showed themselves to have a wealth of talent, wisdom and experience which the Lord used in a special way. 

On September 20, 1978, the Rev. Norman M. Redeker was installed as the Pastor of Grace. He was at that time also serving Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Healdsburg, California. Now Grace and Good Shepherd were sharing a Pastor as they had periodically done during the pastorates of Wagner and Andersen. On August 16, 1982, Redeker became the full-time Pastor at Grace.

On January 20, 1986 Grace Lutheran Church suffered through a major fire. All was not lost and the church was able to be restored and renewed. In November of 1987 Rev. N. Redeker resigned and Rev. Mark Latham took Office in July of 1988. Rev. Latham took a call and in August of 1992 Rev. Doug Williams filled the vacancy until Rev. P. Stark was called in July of 1995. In Oct. 1998 Rev. Stark took a call to Southern California. In July of 1999 Rev. Curtis Binz accepted our call and served until some years later.  In February of 2007 Deacon Ed St John assumed spiritual leadership and served through December of 2011.  Since that time, beginning in March of 2012, Fred Karlen has served our congregation, first as Deacon and after his ordination on April 30, 2017 has served as Pastor.

Sunday Worship 10:00 AM

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