Our History

The History of Grace

The story of Grace began with a dream that seemed to the outside world no bigger than the sign hammered into the ground, a sign no bigger than a garage sale sign that said, “This site reserved for A Lutheran Church”

The Land was purchased by the Synod Mission Fund. Today we speak of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, which is over 450 sister congregations and we are part of the ELCA. The ELCA is 10,400 sister congregations and was a merger of what is referred to as “predecessor church bodies.” One of those predecessor bodies was the Iowa Synod that funded our mission starts. Only two years later the Iowa Synod joined four other synods to become the American Lutheran Church, moreover, in the years between 1930 and 1960 there were still four other large Lutheran Church Synods that would eventually come together to form the ELCA.

The Great Depression of 1929 all be dashed the dreams of the infant church. But the garage sale sign was deceptively humble, and the hearts and minds of the first members of this church were determined to build what they could, so a small wood frame chapel was set on a lot in neighboring Bellwood, Illinois. The men and women who dared to dream of a Lutheran Church here in Westchester were of a special kind of character and held deeply moving convictions of the possibilities born of God and centered in the new land of the United States of America.

It was not until 1942 that the first cornerstone was set in the foundation here in Westchester. The lot on this corner was no longer empty- the small frame Chapel in Bellwood was put on a truck and moved here.

In 1954 a second cornerstone was set. The twelve years of 1942 and 1954 saw the greatest growth in membership, weddings and baptisms. These were the years of Pastor Edward Gabel and many legendary lay leaders.  The little chapel was turned completed around and a church basement kitchen was installed that become the site of renowned Lutheran Church women Smorgasbords.

The Third Cornerstone was set nine years later. Church growth continued to explode and the need for Sunday School rooms a large Worship and Social Center was immediately evident.