Grace Lutheran Church from Minnesota is a partner with Iglesia Luterana Agustina Virgen de Santa Elena in Santa Elena, Petén.
The History of Grace Lutheran Church
In 1963, the American Lutheran Church proposed the organization of a church in the rapidly growing area south of the Minnesota River then known as Lebanon Township. A letter of call was issued to Pastor Gerhard Knutson, who began work on September 1, 1964. The church was named Grace Lutheran Church of Apple Valley. Following an every-home survey, the first worship service was held on October 11, 1964, with 233 in attendance. Official organization was completed on January 24, 1965, with 101 charter member families.
By 1974, the congregation had grown to 382 families and plans began for the building of a new sanctuary. Completed in 1979, the new building resulted in much needed worship, nursery and music space, and freed up the ‘old building’ for us as education space. In 1986, the interior of that new sanctuary was fully completed with carpeting, redesigned sound system, organ, pews, and new choir loft.
In 1990, a 24,000 square-foot ‘link’ was completed between the sanctuary and the education building, adding new office space, atrium, kitchen, classrooms, nursery school area, sacristy and meeting rooms.
The Apple Valley area has always been known as a good place for families. The enrollment in Christian education reflects that reputation. Sunday school has been held, at one time or another, on almost every day of the week, and in many different locations. Adult education has also been an integral part of the Grace community. Bible classes were held in homes even before the charter service. Grace has also been home to Grace Nursery School, which opened its doors in 1967.
Lutherans and music go together like lutefisk and lefse! Through the years, Grace has been no exception. The Grace Choir, Chapel Choir, Bells of Grace, Wind Ensemble and a host of youth choirs have enriched the worship services. Many vocal and instrumental soloists have contributed their talents, as well.
The names of our youth groups have changed over the years, but our commitment to youth ministry has remained unchanged. A new commission of the Church Council is dedicated to youth and family, and staff and lay members continue to constantly implement new programs.
Grace has always had its doors open to the surrounding community. Many groups have regularly used our facility for their education programs, support meetings and performance presentations.
Sunday, October 23, 2012 Grace celebrated the groundbreaking of your new education building. Friday, June 21 the staff impatiently waited for the plywood wall to come down and to receive our certificate of occupany from the City of Apple Valley. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were busy days of putting things into place and decorating for Vacation Bible School that started at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, June 24, with 155 children between the ages of three years and fifth grade.
Final inspections and occupancy came a little too close to the beginning of VBS, but it has been a most joyous time for the staff as we watch the children move through their wonderful new building exploring God’s incredible love for his children through music, Bible adventures, crafts, snacks and games.
As children and parents were arriving for VBS on Wednesday, June 26 our cross was lifted and placed on the tower at the entry to our new education building. It was a thrilling experience and perfect timing, as the children stopped to watch the crane lift the 11-foot cross to the top of the tower.
This cross will be a symbol to the community that this family of Grace proclaims the love of Christ.