The History of Grace

Like many other Lancaster churches founded in the 19th century, this congregation began (in 1855) as a Mission Sunday School sponsored by one of Lancaster’s long-established “mother church” of Lutheranism, the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, whose leaders believed that it was important to offer opportunities for prayer, Bible study and faith development in the growing neighborhoods north of the square, an unserved part of the city.

Continually increasing numbers of worshipers made it necessary to move to larger quarters 3 times until 1872 when Trinity Church Council voted to build a church on the corner of N. Queen and E. James Sts., which they named Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Grace Church was chartered on April 22, 1874, served by a former assistant at Holy Trinity, the Rev. David Geissinger.

The new congregation continued to expand and in 1880, a new pastor, the Rev. C. Elvin Haupt was called to serve Grace Church.  From 1906- 1908 a larger and more beautiful church, designed by C. Emlen Urban, Lancaster’s “famous architect,” was built to replace “old Grace” while the congregation worshiped nearby in our neighboring Jewish synagogue, Temple Shaarai Shomayim.   When the basement of the new church building could be occupied, worship services, Sunday School classes, and the parochial school began to be held there.  On December 6, 1908, the dedication service for “New” Grace church was held, with baptisms and confirmation at later services that day.  Special services were held throughout the week.

From the Intelligencer Journal of Saturday, December 5, 1908: The basement (of the new church) contains a large Sunday School room, classrooms, infant rooms, a church school (parochial school operated until 1923), kitchen, scullery, heating department, library, and toilets.  The entire basement is finished in selected yellow pine.

After the 816 working days needed to erect the edifice, the newly dedicated church building was ready to serve its congregation, its neighborhood, and the world from Queen and James Streets.  Many renovations and additions later, our mission continues from this historic building today.

Reverend Allen Luther Benner, D.D.

Information on our Pastors can be found here

Information on Memorial Gifts and Renovations can be found here

View past issues of the Grace News here!