While we don’t think of Grace as an evangelistic church today, that was not the case when Grace was being established. In fact, the legal name of our church is Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (Oakville).
A local newspaper for Oakville and Trafalgar, The Journal-Record, reported “Since its organization in 1953, the congregation of Grace Church has sought to develop a church in which not only Lutherans, but people without church connections would be welcome.”
In these early days, even before Grace had a church building, Grace was active in outreach. Pastor Grosz organized a five day “Evangelism Mission” in 1955. An advertisement for this mission appears below. Pastor Grosz made 2200 calls to promote the Evangelism Mission. The Journal-Record quotes Pastor Grosz’s philosophy – “God helps those who help themselves.” Herman Paulsen was the lay chairperson, Leo Dorbeck was the chairperson of lay visits, Kenneth Miller was the chairperson of telephone contacts, Greg Lund chaired hospitality, Ron Daub chaired the prayer initiative, Stewart Stieler chaired finance and Bill Christensen chaired publicity. Grace was engaged in evangelism in a big way!
Grace had a special challenge because many Lutherans who migrated from Europe after the Second World War were only fluent in their native languages.
Grace continued evangelism missions on a biennial basis. In 1965, the leader of the sixth mission, Rev Alvin Baetz (See picture above), lead a four-day mission entitled “Is the Christian Church relevant in our changing society?” In preparation for the mission, the evangelism committee of Grace, chaired by Glenn Schultz, conducted Oakville-wide visits of members and friends.
The Journal-Record quotes Rev. Baetz saying that “I feel the Christian Church is relevant, but we need to make it relevant.” The interview continues with Rev Baetz’s comments as relevant today as when they were made. “We can’t sit on our hands. I think the church can give a lot of guidance if the world will take it…..People are getting to the stage that they no longer presuppose the existence of God. They are asking: ‘Who is He?’ We are going to have to answer them…..Many people in the church hardly ever read the Bible and know very little about it….The church needs to keep up with things that are changing.”
“I feel the Christian Church is relevant, but we need to make it relevant.”
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our effort goes into being meaningful to the community.