History of Grace Lutheran



Grace Lutheran Church traces its beginnings to the establishment of Goodwill Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church. The merger between the congregations was formally approved on April 24, 1949 and Grace Lutheran Church was formed and incorporated.


The Formation of Grace Lutheran


In 1870, Dr. Riggs came to the Sisseton area to establish a Presbyterian Indian Mission. He pitched a tent northwest of Old Agency and wrote in his diary: “This camp I have named Goodwill from the words of the angel who first told of the birth of the Prince of Peace, saying ‘Peace on earth, goodwill to men.” The Presbyterian Mission was named Goodwill Mission and from that Mission, Goodwill Township was named. From that township, Goodwill Lutheran Church (1894 - 1949) took its name.

Trinity Lutheran Church (1901-1949) was named after the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God who created us, who saves us, and who is at work within us.

Formal merger negotiations between Goodwill and Trinity Congregations began during the year of 1947; however, conversations between respective pastors of both churches about merging congregations had begun years before. Beginning May 1, 1948, Goodwill and Trinity Congregations were jointly served by the same pastor, the Rev. G. S. Helgesen. The merger was formally approved by both congregations on April 24,1949. On that day, Grace Lutheran Church was formed and incorporated. The name “Grace Lutheran” was given by the congregation as “grace” is the heart and core of the New Testament. In 1957, the present-day church building was built.


Historic Milestones


  • 1957 - Dedication Service of Grace Lutheran Church on
  • October 20 following two years of construction
  • 1960  Service of Ordination for Paul M. Larson
  • 1962  Parsonage is completed and dedicated
  • 1965  Service of Ordination for Dennis C. Raymond
  • 1967  First Associate Pastor is called, a position which continues until 2007
  • 1969  First Seminary Intern serves Grace and neighboring parishes, a program that continues until 1982
  • 1976  The burning of the mortgage in March completes 20 years of monthly payments
  • 1978  Ministry of Design adopted to encourage more lay involvement in ministry; 70 people are trained for 11 Task Forces
  • 1979  Refugee program implemented at Grace, providing a pathway to freedom for many individuals and families over the next decade
  • 1982  Stephen Series trains lay people to serve others in need through one-to-one ministry
  • 1986  Grace Lutheran Church Foundation established
  • 1987  Service of Ordination for Suzanne Benidt
  • 1991 Lutheran Social Services continues its ministry of counseling in the Sisseton area through an office at Grace
  • 1994 The furnishings of the former Concordia Lutheran Church are donated to form the GLC Heritage Chapel
  • 1999 Wicks organ is upgraded; repaired and additional pipes are added
  • 2000 Congregation votes to move from two to one Sunday morning worship service, adding a Saturday Evening Vespers Service
  • 2005 Church kitchen is remodeled and wiring updated
  • 2007 Congregation celebrates 50 years since the dedication of the church building
  • 2012 The National Youth Gathering in New Orleans is attended by 31 youth from Grace
  • 2013 Grace Notes is in its 57th year of publication and a new website is constructed for the church