Grace Lutheran Church celebrates 125 years in Muscatine

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–125 years ago, not far from Zion Lutheran Church in downtown Muscatine, Grace English Lutheran Church opened its doors. At that time, Zion held services in German for Muscatine’s large German immigrant population, and younger generations, who predominantly spoke English. created a daughter church better suited to their needs. After spending a year in a wooden structure, the congregation built a brick building at the corner of Sixth Street and Iowa Avenue, which still stands today. In the early 1970s, the congregation had grown enough that they wanted a larger building and moved to their present location on Cedar Street. They removed English from their name, as none of the other local Lutheran churches offered services in other languages at that time.

As Reverend Susan Bantz, Grace’s newly called pastor, sat in one of the church’s meeting rooms and looked at a beautiful quilt made by families in the congregation to celebrate the church’s 100th year, a date struck her. She did the math and realized Grace Lutheran would turn 125-years-old this year. As the recent change in pastors and COVID-19 pandemic had kept the church from having many large events in recent years, Bantz felt it high time to celebrate. She selected Nov. 13 as the date to celebrate and began quietly working with other church staff members to put together a surprise for the congregation.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, Bantz did some research, going back through the church’s membership registries and early documents to pull out some of most interesting facts about its 125 years. She found that the church had 18 pastors over the years, had had four congregation members go on to become pastors elsewhere, and that she represented the church’s first female pastor. In looking at membership records, she found that several families had deep ties to the church, with two of the oldest going back seven and five generations respectively. She also determined the church’s oldest (a 98-year-old), youngest (a 10 and a half week old), and longest continuous (a 96-year-old born into the congregation) members so she could honor them.

Reverend Susan Bantz with some of the festive decorations put up to celebrate Grace Lutheran Church’s 125th anniversary. Photo by Brenda Erber.

In the weeks before the anniversary celebration, Bantz hinted at something special to come. At the Nov. 13 service, Bantz decorated the church’s sanctuary in red, a festival color, and placed bright red balloons that wrote out the number 125 at the front of the church. During the children’s sermon, she gave each child a bag of 125 M&Ms to help them understand just how many years the church had operated for. Through worship and song, she emphasized the message of, “carrying on the work of generations,” and how Grace Church today would continue the mission of offering worship and sharing the gospel through education and outreach and how the congregation would continue to support each other in this work and their own journeys. Following the service, a special fellowship time, complete with a cake featuring images of all Grace’s different locations, capped off the celebrations.

A special occasion as Grace starts its time with a new pastor and looks forward to a future of continued service in Muscatine, Bantz felt the 125th anniversary celebration proved a success. “It was a simple celebration, but it was full of joy.”

Latest News

MPW History of Sustainability Initiatives

At Tuesday night’s Board of Water, Electric and Communications Trustees meeting, the Trustees were presented a summary of Muscatine...

More Articles Like This

Muscatine Today

MTS- Brandon is here to talk about Fat Cat

Today on the show Scott Schultz from Impact Fitness and Nutrition is here to talk about more healthy fitness tips. Then if you are looking to get your car cleaned up from the winter listen to today's show to learn about a business in town that can help you with that and more..... Thank you to our show sponsors: Harpers Cycling and Fitness, Beckey Insurance, Muscatine Power and Water, RIVO Plumbing and Heating, ImpactLife Blood Center, Lutheran Living, Toyota of Muscatine, Impact Fitness and Nutrition, Sun Tan City Muscatine, Real Estate Resource Associates, UnityPoint Health Trinity Muscatine and Hy-Vee Muscatine #muscatinetodayshow #goodmorningmuscatine #KindnessIsFree

DMSN Broadcasts

Manta Rays Swim

Join us as the Muskie Boys Basketball team hosts the North Scott Lancers! Watch Your Way: Discover Muscatine Facebook Discover Muscatine YouTube DiscoverMuskie Twitter Muscatine Power and Water Cable Channel 3 Brought to you by Muscatine Power and Water, Muscatine Lawn and Power, Hy-Vee, Bayer of Muscatine, First National Bank of Muscatine, Affordable Metal Manufacturing, Eastern Iowa Power Washers, Arty’s Ice Cream and Grill, Rivo Plumbing and Heating, Riots and Rebelle’s Salon, Bickford Senior Living, Let’s Eat, Muscatine Community Y and the Youth Sports Foundation. #DMSN #MuskieSports #Muscatine #MuskieSchools #basketball #prephoops #prepbasketball

Talk of the Town

Teddy turns eight!

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in wishing my son, Teddy, a happy birthday! He turns eight on Nov. 30, and that young man...

Muscatine Area News

MPW History of Sustainability Initiatives

At Tuesday night’s Board of Water, Electric and Communications Trustees meeting, the Trustees were presented a summary of Muscatine Power and Water’s (MPW) ongoing...