God has been working in and through our church family to make disciples of Jesus in the White Bear Lake community in three different centuries.
The story begins in two different pioneer congregations. Zion Lutheran Church was founded in 1888 by 13 German immigrants in the White Bear Lake Area. The Swedish Lutheran Church of White Bear Lake, also called Faith Lutheran Church, was founded that same year by seven Swedish families, who held their first meeting in the kitchen of the Chateaugay Hotel.
The two churches both began holding worship services in English and merged in 1929 as First English Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The ministry of First Lutheran flourished, and in a few years had nearly outgrown its building. After World War II, space problems became increasingly acute as church membership expanded rapidly. In March 1956, the congregation voted to relocate to a 14-1/2 acre site on Highway 61, as part of its commitment to reach and serve the many new families moving into southern White Bear Lake. Construction on the first unit of the new building was begun in 1958 and completed by the following May. The facility included a worship center, classrooms, kitchen, nursery, and offices. The traditional sanctuary was constructed in 1963, our 75th anniversary.
By 1987 it had become clear that our facility would again need to expand to fit God's growing work, so the church began preparing for the third building phase. Construction was started in 1992 on an education unit, kitchen, choir rooms, offices, and the commons area. These spaces now facilitate many vital ministries for all our generations, including also our partner schools Lake Area Discovery Center, Magnuson Christian School, and the Master’s Institute seminary. These facilities were dedicated in September 1993. The original First Evangelical Lutheran Church building at Sixth and Stewart Streets is still in use. First Baptist Church (which was later renamed Eagle Brook) held services there after First Lutheran vacated the structure in 1958. Until recently, it was the home of the Lakeshore Players.
In 2010, our church family became affiliated with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). The LCMC movement views the local church as the place where people in the community come to get connected with God and one another. We place a great emphasis on understanding what it means to follow Jesus, then doing it. Community of Grace finds LCMC aligns well with our mission, vision, and values.
In 2016-17 we made another move to reach and serve our wider community by renaming ourselves. Being the first English-speaking Lutheran church in town was important to our identity and mission in a previous era. Now, we find Community of Grace Lutheran Church is a clearer way to share our identity in Christ in this our third century.
Our location, our building, our name, and our neighborhoods have changed throughout the years. Our mission has not changed.
Jesus Christ is still the hope of the world, and His Great Commission is our mission. We invite you to join our story as we share life in and offer the world a community of God’s amazing grace.