A telling of the origins and history of our congregation could, of course, begins on that first Day of Pentecost almost 2000 years ago when God’s Holy Spirit enabled and inspired people to begin telling the story of God’s love for us in Jesus. But since nearly two thousand years might be a bit too much to cover, we’ll begin a little over 60 years ago when God’s Holy Spirit called together a group of women and men from the Plainville area to form a mission congregation called Grace under the leadership of Pastor Darvin Herman.
The first worship service of this newly formed community of faith was on January 13, 1957. Since the congregation had no sanctuary as yet, worship services at that time were held at Linden Street School. But the Spirit blessed this young mission congregation with enthusiasm and growth and so in 1958, shortly after being received as an official congregation of the Lutheran church, Grace began planning for the funding and construction of a church building.
A Ground Breaking worship service took place on May 21, 1959, and the cornerstone was laid just weeks later on June 28. On May 22, 1960, one year after construction began, the doors of the new home of Grace Lutheran Church were opened. This young community of faith now had their own home for their many worship, educational, service, and fellowship activities.
The first pastoral transition for Grace occurred in January of 1965 when Pastor Herman accepted a call to serve another congregation in Maryland. This period was one of sadness over Pastor Herman’s departure, but also one of trust that God’s Holy Spirit would lead Grace into an exciting future. Before the year was out, Pastor Willard Baumgartner accepted a call to serve as Grace’s pastor, and he was installed on August 8. Over his years of service at Grace, Pastor Baumgartner did much to shape and develop the faith, commitment, and warmth that runs so deeply in the character of Grace to this day. Pastor Baumgartner was also very active in serving the Plainville community and, through his involvement, opened new opportunities for Grace to serve the community as well. It is a testament to his faithfulness as a pastor, and to the respect and love felt for him by the congregation and community, that Pastor Baumgartner served at Grace for thirty-six years.
It was in the year 2001 that Pastor Baumgartner left, and Grace found itself in another time of pastoral transition. After a period of interim ministry with Pastor Nancy Thomas, Grace called Pastor Steve Brisson, who began serving in June of 2005. Pastor Steve left his call to Grace in August of 2018. On March 1, 2019, Pastor Bob LaRochelle, our current Pastor, began his ministry here. He was installed on April 28, 2019.
In 2017, Grace became a Reconciling in Christ congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. See www.reconcilingworks.org. We are a congregation within the New England Synod of the ELCA ( Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
Thus far, these paragraphs have listed only the names of the few individuals who have served as pastor at Grace. But it is all the members of Grace, past and present, too many to list, that truly make up its history. Unnamed have been the women and men who, for over 50 years now, have gathered faithfully for worship, taught our youth in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, created organizations of fellowship and ministry such as the Ladies Guild, supported missionaries, organized special events like the Holiday Country Fair, and served our neighbor across the street and across the globe. And at the center of it all has been God’s Holy Spirit, enabling and inspiring the women and men of Grace Lutheran Church to tell the story of God’s love for us in Jesus. We look forward to the ways that the Spirit will help us build on our history and traditions as we move into our exciting future of mission and ministry in the 21st century