HISTORY OF GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
WHEN EVERYTHING FIRST BEGAN
October 2003 marked the beginning of Grace Lutheran Church with the celebration of its inaugural worship service on October 5th. The first service was held in what is now Grandma’s Too Day Care.
What an exciting time! Rick and Brenda Kreyer, owners of Grandma’s Too Day Care, offered their facility to be used as a place for worship and meetings. As a result, an organizational meeting was held on September 29, 2003. Communion vessels were donated, 120 folding chairs were ordered and $2,800 in cash was contributed. A wooden cross was constructed to hang up in the day care on Sundays. Plans were also made for worship services – sermons, music, communion, ushers, etc. Sunday School and confirmation were also organized. Adult Bible study was planned to follow the worship service while the children were in Sunday school.
The congregation began with lay people in all of the leadership positions. The first worship service was attended by 142 people sitting in chairs and 30 children sitting on the floor. Two members of the Northern Lights Christian Center came bearing gifts of an altar Bible and a dozen red roses commending us for the stand we were taking and a show of support for our decision.
At the first congregational meeting on October 8, 2003, Grace Lutheran Church (GLC) was given its official name. This marked the beginning of our new church in Hayward.
Every Saturday morning a group would gather to transform the day care into a place for worship. Following the Sunday morning worship service, it was changed back into a day care facility. This process continued until the move to the Highway B facility in 2005.
The first membership service was held on March 7th, 2004. It was reported at the council meeting that the church had received 220 new members – 159 eligible adults, 9 teens who have been confirmed to vote, and 52 children.
The congregation chose a Belief Statement of “We believe the Bible from beginning to end and the Word of God does not change! God the Father is the Creator, God the Son, Jesus Christ, is our Salvation and God the Holy Spirit is the Comforter who leads us to the truth.” A Mission Statement of “Teach the Truth of the Word for the glory of God” was also adopted.
The first confirmation service was conducted at Grace on May 1, 2005. Twelve students were confirmed.
For 18 months, church related activities were led by GLC members. An interim pastor was a welcomed addition to lead our worship services. It was an exciting time to see God at work in our lives!
Grace Lutheran Church was an independent congregation for the first year. On September 12, 2004, the congregation held a vote to associate with the Augsburg Lutheran Churches (ALC). A few months later, GLC severed its ties with the Augsburg Lutheran Churches (ALC) and, in October 2005, became a member of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).
A 14.67-acre building site on Greenwood Lane, where the current church is located, was generously donated to the church in November 2004 by friends of the congregation. The members of GLC gathered at the gifted property to celebrate with a Thanksgiving worship service.
GLC quickly outgrew the day care facility and in the fall of 2005, relocated to a larger building located on Highway B. A second wooden cross was made and added to the back of the original cross. Weekly services, Sunday school and confirmation classes were held, and the congregation continued to grow. A new children’s program was soon organized – Grace Lutheran On Wednesdays (GLOW). A building survey was conducted in November of 2005 and at the 2006 annual meeting the congregation voted to undertake a building project. A “Building Together by Grace” campaign was started to raise money for the project and a building committee was formed. Architect Steve Edwins from SMSQ Architects of Northfield, MN was engaged to draw the plans.
GLC was blessed to have members with expertise willing to be on the building committee including a recently retired project manager for large construction projects, a bakery owner, a plumber, people with building experience and advice from an interior decorator. Members donated many hours of volunteer labor to help construct our church building.
On October 5, 2008, a “Groundbreaking Celebration” was conducted at the land located on Greenwood Lane and the first worship service in the new building was held on May 31, 2009.
A third larger wooden cross was made and added to the back of the original two smaller crosses from the previous buildings and it hangs at the front of our worship area.
Since the completion of the building, various improvements have been made to the facility church.
A portico was built over the front door, an electronic sign was added to the existing Greenwood Lane sign, and a storage area was added on the north side of the building. A playground was created initially with the gift of a wooden train contributed by a GLC member and the purchase of a swing set play system.
An open-air pavilion on the west side of the church was constructed in 2020. This addition can be utilized for church events, family get-togethers, and community support activities. On September 1, 2020, the Hayward Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new addition.
In 2021 funds were allocated to turn the garage into a workshop to encourage youth participation in woodworking, building projects, and a variety of other projects.
In memory of Pastor Stew, a bench was constructed outside the front door in 2022. It provides a seating area, storage space and a windbreak. Inscribed above the bench is – “Well done, good and faithful servant – in Memory of Pastor Stew Carlson, Matthew 25:21”.
At a special congregational meeting held on June 19, 2022, the church voted to purchase a house located on Company Lake Road to be used as the parsonage for the family of the next pastor of GLC.
Two outdoor volleyball courts were added in the summer of 2023.
GLC was blessed with many gifts including the large last supper mural, a grand piano, the altar, the baptismal table, Christ candle stand and many other items too numerous to mention.
Local summer residents, former Professor at Luther Seminary and Pastor Jim Burtness and his wife, Dolores, were very helpful by offering advice for the formation of our new congregation.
Pastor Carl Buettemeier, White Bear Lake, MN, had heard about our new church and called to offer his support. He would frequently come to Hayward to preach and provide music with his guitar. His wife, Jane, often accompanied him.
Before a permanent pastor was called, Pastor Larry Lystig (wife Carolyn) served as interim pastor until the position was filled permanently. Pastor Lystig served from March 20 to June 30, 2005.
In 2005, GLC extended a letter of call to Pastor Tony Stoutenburg, as Senior Pastor of the church. Pastor Tony, his wife Pam, and son Matt came from the state of Washington, where he was the pastor of two ELCA churches. On July 2 and 3, 2005, Pastor Tony led his first services at Grace Lutheran Church. On July 17, 2005, he was installed and remained in office until December of 2018.
Following Pastor Tony’s departure GLC was under the care of two interim pastors. Pastor Eric Hulstrand and Pastor Jordan Scott provided guidance and support during this time and during the transition to call a new permanent pastor.
A letter of call was delivered to Pastor Stew Carlson on November 10th, 2019. Pastor Stew received his certification from the LCMC in 2008 and had served seven years as Pastor in Silver Bay, Minnesota. He had his roots in the Minnesota town of Lindstrom. The first service that Pastor Stew led was on January 5, 2020. He was officially installed on July 19, 2020. On March 23, 2021, Pastor Stew lost his battle with an unforeseen medical complication and passed away.
Jeff Hogden was scheduled to preach in Pastor Stew’s place on March 27, 2021, a date that was intended to be the start of Pastor Stew’s vacation. However, with the sudden loss of Pastor Stew, Jeff graciously consented to serve our congregation for a longer period of time than he had originally anticipated. On September 26, 2021, the congregation held a vote and decided to grant Jeff an “Interim Letter of Call” to help facilitate his ordination when he had finished his studies. On October 30, 2021, Jeff was ordained as a pastor at his home church of Peace Lutheran Church in Baldwin, Wisconsin, and on November 14, 2021, he was installed as Interim Pastor at GLC. Pastor Jeff served as Interim Pastor from March 2021 until July 2022.
A letter of call was presented to Pastor Dirk Jensen after a congregational meeting held on July 3, 2022. Pastor Dirk previously served two congregations: the first in California with the AALC, and then later an LCMC congregation in Odessa, WA, where he was ordained. After leaving Odessa, Pastor Dirk took a break from the ministry for a couple of years until receiving his call here at GLC. Pastor Dirk, his wife, Karen, and youngest son, Kaleb, moved to Hayward in July. They also have three other adult children and
one grandchild. Pastor Dirk started serving our congregation on August 1, 2022, and was installed on August 28, 2022.
The job of part-time Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator was filled on March 8, 2004, by Karen Gustafson, who was hired for the position. Karen worked for nearly 13 years before retiring in December of 2016. Amy Jorczak was hired in October of 2016 to fill the position of Office Administrator.
On April 4, 2006, Tony Hopp was hired to fill the position of Financial Secretary. He served as financial secretary for 17 years and retired in 2023. Members Greg Biskup and Heidi Cain volunteered to fill this position.
The 20th Anniversary of GLC will be celebrated October 8, 2023, with a potluck meal following the Worship Service. Praise be to God!