Grace Lutheran Church History 75 Years of Grace December 7, 1941 - December 7 2016 It was a brisk, blustery Sunday morning. On that day, the first day of December 1940, a group of stalwart Christians gathered for worship at the Burgess School on Grandview Avenue. Leading the worship was the Rev. Alfred O. Meyer. The English District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod wanted to plant a new Lutheran church in the sparsely settled area of North Redford. The records show that the following people attended that first service on the first day of December 1940: Mr. and Mrs. Mutter, Mrs. Richard Neal, Mr. M. Page, Marjorie Ann Page, and Mrs. A. O. Meyer. The offering was $13.94. Fifteen children were enrolled in the Sunday school. On that day, a tiny seed was planted. Little did this small band of people realize that from that tiny seed a great church would eventually bloom and blossom. The early days were days of struggle and sacrifice. Often the small group became discouraged and downhearted, but they were always buoyed up by the hope which the sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. Remember the day and date: December 1, 1940. Our nation was slowly recovering from the Great Depression. Detroit had been hit hard, and in Europe war clouds were beginning to gather. On Sunday afternoon, September 7, 1941, just a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the small church was officially organized and named Grace Lutheran Church. In December of 1941, property was purchased on Grand River, and plans were made to build a modest chapel dedicated to the glory of God. On May 31, 1942, ground was broken for the new chapel. The world was engulfed in a global war, and supplies were very scarce. It took two years to finish the modest chapel. On December 7, 1944, the founding fathers of Grace Church gathered to sing their hymns of praise as the new chapel was dedicated in the name of the true and triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This small chapel is still in use today as part of our gym, a very busy place bustling with activities every week. In the early spring of 1945 the original pastor of the parish, the Rev. Alfred O. Meyer accepted a call to a parish in the state of Illinois. The little group of parishioners, now without a pastor and facing what looked like a grim future, became discouraged. Visiting pastors conducted services on Sunday mornings. There was talk among the members and even among English District Mission Board members to sell the property and disband. However, the Lord had other plans. We think of the words of St. Paul as he struggled with problems in the early church: "We are troubled on every side but not distressed. We are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed." I Corinthian 4:8-9 In early October 1946, after a vacancy of over a year, the Lord sent Rev. Victor F Halboth Sr. to the corner of Grand River and Imperial Highway. Fresh from the military service as a chaplain in the United States Army Air Force, he breathed new life into this frail and feeble parish. Like a commanding officer, he mobilized this small band of Christian soldiers. Using his administrative skills gleaned from his service as a parish pastor in the state of California and in the United States Army, the church soon bustled with activity. The progress was very slow, and often pastor and people became downhearted, but the Holy Spirit blessed the preaching of the Word. The early 1950s produced a population explosion in Redford and in the surrounding communities. The buzz of electric saws and the sharp staccato of pounding hammers rang through the air. Redford was growing. This was the post-war boom. People were hungering for the Word of God. Empty souls were fed at Grand River and Imperial Highway. Always alert to mission opportunities, Grace Church, her pastor and people were busy reaching people with the sweet saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptisms, confirmations, and weddings were the order of the day. Soon the small chapel bulged with people, and on June 14, 1954, an addition to the small chapel was dedicated. This particular service became a foretaste of future services in Grace Church. It was a family affair. Pastor Victor Halboth Sr. was the liturgist and read the rite of dedication. The Rev. Arthur Halboth, pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, was the preacher. He was the brother of Pastor Victor Halboth Sr. A young seminarian, Victor F. Halboth Jr. was the lector. The community continued to grow. Grace Church continued to reach out to these new souls, and soon plans were made to build a new and larger sanctuary. In 1956 an every-member canvass was conducted. Throughout her history Grace Church always responded to a challenge. Ground was broken for the new building on June 2, 1957. Guest preacher for this historic occasion was Pastor A. W. Born of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Detroit. The parish began to realize that her pastor needed some help as he carried out the pressing demands of a growing church and overseeing the building of a new church. Help had come through part-time assistant pastors and through several full-time vicars. On July 28, 1957, a new assistant pastor came to Grace Church in the person of Candidate Victor F. Halboth, Jr. fresh from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Again the service of ordination and installation was a family affair. The preacher for the service was the Rev. Paul A. Boriack, pastor of historic St. John Lutheran Church in Rome, New York, where the young candidate had vicared and where he had met his bride of one year, Blanche. Pastor Victor Halboth Sr. ordained and installed his son. Pastor Carl W. Ladewig, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sheboygan, was the liturgist. He was the uncle of the candidate. The Rev. Maurice Shakell, a dear friend and pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Grafton, Ohio, was the lector. Little did the members of Grace Church or the young pastor realize that 33 years later another Candidate Halboth would be ordained and installed by his father. With this father and son team, another new era began in the history of this dynamic church. For the next fifteen years, father and son would work together hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder. When Father Halboth retired in 1972, he continued to assist, working with his son for the next ten years. The young pastor and his wife fell in love with Grace Church, and they have joyfully served this large church since 1957. The couple "grew with the job." On March 1, 1959, nineteen years after the date of the very first service, this magnificent new edifice was dedicated to the glory of God. The total cost of our building was one-half million dollars, a large sum in those days. Father and son officiated at the very first service. The Rev. Henry Rische, editor of THIS DAY magazine in St. Louis, was the preacher for the afternoon service. The Rev. Dr. O. A. Geisemann, pastor of Grace Church in River Forest, was the preacher for the evening service. During the years that followed, Grace Church matured into a loyal group of dedicated people. Under the leadership of its pastors, the church became a Bible-based, Christ-centered parish where the needs of people come first. Our loyalty to the Word of God as the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of the living God has been blessed. We echo the words of St. Paul in II Corinthians: "For we preach not ourselves but Christ the Lord." The word of the apostle is our hallmark, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes." Romans 1:6. Seventy Five golden glorious years of lifting high the cross of Christ! When Pastor Halboth Sr. retired in 1972, new people were brought in to serve with Pastor Halboth Jr. Names that many will remember include Steven Amold, D.C.E.; Nancy Sachs, parish worker; Mark Matthews, D.C.E.; James Moll, parish worker; Roy Wenzel, education assistant; Gary Nelson, youth worker. Under the guidance and enthusiasm of Pastor Victor Halboth Jr., Pastor Timothy Halboth and through the efforts of the dear people of Grace Church, the Gospel continues to be proclaimed, and many new souls are led into the arms of the Savior. Blanche Halboth serves quietly and efficiently at the side of her husband as the church secretary, as well as giving of her time in many of the church organizations. During the late '60s and early '70s the Redford area became "landlocked." The area was saturated with homes and apartments. Many residents moved out of the area, including many faithful members of dear Grace Church. Some of the members became active in other parishes and missions, bringing with them the expertise and experience they had gained at their home base. Others remained with Grace Church. This meant a long drive each week to participate in the services and in the variety of programs offered by the parish. Grace Church was now presented with a new and unique challenge. New residents were moving into the Redford area, and with their usual missionary zeal, pastor and people reached out to them and invited them to share with us the saving Gospel, which is the "one thing needful." New members took the place of those who had relocated in the suburbs and in other churches. These newer members also took the place of those who were called home to glory to bask in the sunshine of eternal life won for them by Jesus Christ. The various programs and activities had to be scheduled to accommodate all the members - those who lived near the church and those who drove great distances. Catechism classes, Bible classes, and meetings were scheduled in the evening hours. During the Lenten season, services are conducted in the morning and in the evening. A light supper is served in the evening so that families can meet at church and then attend the services. What could have been a burden for the church became a blessing. Grace Church and her pastors have always been most grateful for the loyal people who live in our neighborhood and attend our church. We are grateful for many beloved "old time members" who have been with us for many years. We are so appreciative of those members who come from great distances. We are a happy fellowship of loyal Christians who come from all areas and from all walks of life. Our church ministers to the needs of all age groups. Under the direction of the Pastors and with the help of our lay leaders, Grace Church has become one of the leading churches within the English District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Many of our lay people serve on District boards and committees. Each year we dedicate 25 percent of our annual budget for the worldwide mission program of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. We also support the Lutheran High School Association of Detroit. We remember our seminary in St. Louis and Concordia College in Ann Arbor. We support the Lutheran Laymen's League as well as the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and many other auxiliary arms of the church. In 1982 Pastor Halboth Sr. asked to be relieved of his part-time duties. His health and the health of his wife was failing. The church continued to give him the title Pastor Emeritus. Pastor Thomas Waber was brought on staff as a part-time pastoral assistant. He served us faithfully until failing health caused him to retire. Mrs. Erna Halboth was called home to glory on Mother's Day of 1986. She had been a loyal supporter of Grace Church, working with her husband. Pastor Victor Halboth Sr. was called home to glory on Christmas Day of 1989. Both had carried the heavy burden of illness for several years. On Father's Day, June 18, 1989, another era began in the golden history of our beloved Grace Church: Candidate Timothy P Halboth, like his father before him, was ordained and installed as associate pastor of Grace Church. His father ordained and installed him, and Dr. Roger Pittelko, President of the English District of The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, delivered the sermon. Pastor Thomas Waber and Pastor Duanne Wuggazzer of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Birmingham, the new pastor's Godfather, assisted. The candidate was presented to the congregation by his brother, Dr. Mark J. Halboth, a member of the Board of Elders of Grace Church. Three generations have served this dynamic parish. Grace is one of four churches within our national church body to have had three generations serve on its pastoral staff. (The other three are: Our Savior, Detroit, with the Buchheimers; St. Lorenz, Frankenmuth, with the Mayers; and Our Redeemer, Chicago, with the Schuesslers.) The Halboth family has been on the clergy roster of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod since 1864. Pastor Marcus Halboth served from 1864 to 1891; Pastor John Halboth, 1892 to 1937; Pastor Victor F. Halboth Sr., 1929 to 1989; Pastor Victor F. Halboth Jr. since 1957; and Pastor Timothy Halboth , since 1989. Pastor Timothy Halboth also brings enthusiasm, love for the Lord and for people. The young pastor has introduced drama in the services, revived and revamped the youth program, and works side by side with his father. Grace Church is made up of very special people. St. Peter describes our membership in I Peter: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.." Our church has been blessed with people who have different talents and unique gifts. The people use their gifts to further the kingdom of God. St. Paul describes these very special gifts in Romans, 12: "We have different gifts according to the grace given us ... If it is serving, let him serve ... If it is teaching let him teach ... If it is encouraging, let him encourage ... If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously ... If it is leadership, let him govern diligently..." Grace Church bustles with busy organizations concerned with the "one thing needful." Our Sunday school was organized on that very first day in December of 1940. This arm of Christian education has stretched out for 50 years, embracing generations with the love of God's gospel. Dedicated teachers have brought the lambs of the flock of Jesus into the loving arms of the Good Shepherd. No church can survive without the lay people who work in love. Guiding all of this are the pastors at the helm who minister with zest and zeal. St. Titus, the author of one of the epistles of the New Testament was known as a good administrator. Here at Grace Church the special gifts of pastors and people are pooled as we meet to administer the affairs of the kingdom of God. Trustees, Elders, council people at large, ushers, acolytes, choir members, finance people and Sunday school teachers dedicate their gifts to serve the Savior. These past 75 years have been filled with trials and triumphs. Christ has been with us to comfort us in times of trial. Christ has been with us in times of triumph to bless us with His love. During these 70 golden glorious years, the Lord has blessed Grace Church with dedicated pastors, Bible-based, Christ-centered preaching; loving and loyal laymen and lay- women, who serve with heart and hands and voices. We echo the words of the Psalmist, "O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good." Psalm 105:1 Let your blessings rest upon Grace Church, dear Lord, Out from the by-roads, out from the care-filled days, We come, an earnest throng, to hear Your inspired Word, To offer our sincere praise, To seek Your guiding power, To lay our burdens at Your feet, Away from the clatter and clamor of crowded street. Let Your blessing rest upon Grace Church, we pray, Our Father, be our Guide and Stay.
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