Founded in 1919, Grace Lutheran Church began with 37 communicant members as a mission to our English speaking neighbors. Nearly 100 years later, we are thankful for every opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, near and far. God has made us a launchpad for His Kingdom. 

Rev. F.C. Brandhorst

Grace Lutheran Church was founded on September 16, 1919, with nine voting members and 37 communicants. Lutheran pulpits had been proclaiming the Gospel in Norfolk for upward of 60 years. Until that time, however, the greater portion of it had been done in the German language. The object of the new church was to preach the Gospel entirely in the English language and to work for community outreach. Grace Lutheran was organized to “preach the gospel in the language of the people.” Because children were being educated in English, and because it was the language of the United States, the founding members of Grace saw a need for Lutheran preaching in English as well as German, the language of Lutherans in Norfolk at that time. In 1919, several families obtained releases from Christ Lutheran Church to begin a new congregation Grace Lutheran Church.

The Rev. F.C, Brandhorst, missionary in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, was called to be the first pastor. The local Baptist church was building a new church, so Grace Lutheran bought its old church for $1,600. They moved it from the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Phillip Avenue to the present church location at Fifth Street and Park Avenue. The lot cost $2,600. After excavation and building improvements, the total for lot and church came to $6,215. The house north of the property was purchased for $4,000 and served as the personage. After worshiping in the church for four years, the congregation needed more space. In the fall of 1923, the entire interior of the church was remodeled, increasing the seating capacity to 225. Within five years of its founding, the records show 87 voting members and 223 communicants from 128 families. Although Grace Lutheran children attended nearby Christ Lutheran Parochial School, they organized a Sunday School shortly after its founding. Youth groups, a lades Aid Society and a choir were also formed during their first year. In 1925, they built a new parsonage for $7,000.

Rev. W.C. Rehwaldt

Grace Lutheran was the first congregation in Nebraska to install a phone system for the hearing impaired, so they could participate in the services.

In 1927, the Rev. W.C. Rehwaldt arrived from Casper Wyoming. In calling him, the congregation had stated, “Within a year or so we shall have to consider the erection of a new church building.” After his arrival, the members’ subscriptions totaled more than $20,000 for the new church plus $5,000 for the purchase of additional property north of the church.

In 1931, some families left to form Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in the southeast part of Norfolk and to serve Lutherans living in that area.

Rev. Arnold G. Deke

1951 - 1961

Rev. Martin L. Russert

1961 - 1987

Rev. Ray S. Wilke

1978 - present

Rev. Jeffery D. McPike

1988 - 1999

Rev. Chris Hazzard


Rev. Jack Theisen

2002 - 2013

Rev. Chris Asbury

2008 - present