During the pastorate of Rev. Lowell Gess (1945-46) the church became debt free. In November 1946, the Evangelical and United Brethren denominations merged to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB), and in January 1954, our name was changed from First Evangelical Church to Grace EUB Church. In 1958, Grace Church received a bequest and ninety feet of property south of our church was purchased. In 1966, a new parsonage was built with the former parsonage being utilized for Christian Education classrooms. In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist denominations merged to form the United Methodist Church and we became Grace United Methodist Church.
In November of 1994, a congregational vote determined that we move forward to build a new church. We realized that our 68 year old facility was no longer sufficient to meet the needs of the community or a modern church program. In March of 1995, with the encouragement of the Congregational Development Action Team, we purchased 4.7 acres of land in a highly visible area in the southern part of the city between Clearwater Road and County Road 75. In less than three years, the mortgage on this property was paid in full on April 5, 1998.
The ground for construction of the new church was broken in May of 2000, and the footing laid in early June. A "Prayer Wall Service" was held at the construction site on September 24, 2000. Prayers of the congregation for the life and work of Grace Church were sealed within the east sanctuary wall to be opened and read at that future date when the wall is opened for the expansion of the sanctuary. The unfinished sanctuary was filled with the sounds of prayer and song. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on November 12, 2000 on a snowy day. Members worshiped at the old building where a picture was taken of the congregants in attendance that day. A meal was shared during which the contents of the old building's cornerstone box were revealed. The congregation then proceeded to the new building where the cornerstone was set in a special service. The last services in the old building were held on December 17, 2000. The hard work of many members investing their "sweat equity" made it possible for the church to celebrate Christmas in the new building.
As Grace United Methodist Church enters its 152nd year of ministry, we are ever mindful that, beautiful as it is, the new edifice is only a building - a tool - for us to better reach out to our community with the life changing message of salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus as our Forgiver and Leader for life. We praise and thank our God who is faithful to His people as they take steps, even great leaps of faith to serve Him and follow His human viewpoint, God has honored steps of faith with the provision needed.
It is with confidence that we embark on a new chapter of service in the life of Grace Church, knowing that God will lead us, challenge us, protect us and provide the means to serve him. Soli Deo Gloria - TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY!
The history of Grace United Methodist Church begins in 1861 with the origins of the Evangelical Church in St. Cloud, Minnesota. In the fall of that year, John Baitinger of Zion Evangelical Church near Paynesville brought Reverend Conrad Lahr, a preacher in the Evangelical Church, to this community. The Rev. Lahr preached in the Stanger home, which was about six miles west of St. Cloud, where meetings were held on a regular basis. The St. Cloud mission moved into the city in 1873 when Rev. H. Henzel was the minister. Two years later a parsonage was purchased on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Sixth Street, which then served as the meeting place for the congregation until 1888, when a fifty-five foot lot at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Sixth Street was purchased. A church building was erected that same year with Rev. A.C. Schmidt as the minister. The church was a one room wooden structure with no basement.
In 1920 a parsonage was built to the rear of the church and during the ensuing decade the work continued to prosper with an increase in church membership. During the pastorate of Rev. D.C. Trapp, plans were formulated for a new church edifice. The old church was now in bad repair and the facilities it offered prohibited a modern church program. That year, our congregation requested that the Annual Conference grant permission to build a new building. The 1928 Conference session gave permission to proceed with the building and made a generous gift of $5000 to the project. At this time twenty five feet of the adjacent south lot was purchased. The cost of the church building was $32,000 and dedication services for the building were held on April 7, 1929.
Grace United Methodist Church
St. Cloud, MN