A Brief History of Grace in Teaneck:
On the second Sunday in November, 1930, nine Lutheran Christians met in a first-floor room of the Teaneck Center Building on Cedar Lane and began to worship under the leadership of the Reverend Carl Bergen, pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Leonia.The following year, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church incorporated as a congregation of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Struggling through the Depression years, the small congregation finally called its own pastor, the Reverend Theodore W. Beiderwieden Jr., in 1934. Like Pastor Bergen, Father Ted believed in the centrality of Word and Sacrament, so Grace celebrated Holy Communion at every Sunday liturgy and on every Holy Day, an uncommon practice at the time and one that continued to be a hallmark of Grace.
In 1935, the congregation purchased property at the corner of Claremont and Helen Streets on which to build its own church, a colonial structure dedicated in 1937. With the dream of opening a parish school, the congregation in 1953 purchased nearly seven acres of land at the intersection of Route 4 and River Road. Grace School, the first Lutheran school in New Jersey, opened in 1956. Ten years later, the congregation sold its Claremont Street sanctuary and moved to River Road, worshiping for the next six years in the school’s foyer.
In the 1970s, the church left the Missouri Synod and joined the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. That body merged in 1988 with the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Today Grace is one of 159 congregations in the New Jersey Synod of the ELCA.
Church and school continued to thrive through the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Sadly, however, after more than 40 years serving students from throughout Bergen County, Grace School closed its doors in 2004, a casualty of rising costs, changing demographics, and other schooling options in the area. With its recently renovated classrooms empty, Grace Church searched for another ministry that would benefit from its bright, accessible building and grassy outdoor space. In Spectrum for Living, the congregation found a quality organization in need of just such a place. Spectrum and Grace worked for months to get Township approval for the development of a training center for developmentally disabled adults. Once approved, Spectrum further renovated the facilities and opened its Teaneck Adult Training Center in October 2006. Meanwhile, Grace, facing a pastoral vacancy, was assigned a vice pastor, the vicar of Christ Episcopal Church in Teaneck. Together the Lutheran and Episcopal congregations worked on mutual ministries and held monthly joint worship services at each other’s churches. Today, some of those programs continue as Grace continues to worship and serve God and to minister to the people of Teaneck, and Bergen County.Grace has also forged a partnership with the Light & Peace Mission Churches in Haiti, and engaged in a formal sisterhood with the Light & Peace congregation in Trois Mats (or sometimes Trois Marres), Haiti.
Our Pastors throughout the Years:
The Rev. Dr. Carl Bergen, Founder 1930-1934
The Rev. Theodore W. Beiderwieden 1934-1972
The Rev. Lyle O. Olson 1972-1974
The Rev. Dr. Amandus J. Derr 1975-1997
The Rev. Dr. Ronald R. Miller 1999-2005
The Rev. Dr. Clemens I. Reinke 2007-2014
The Rev. Stanley Ellison 2014-2017
The Rev. Peggy Niederer 2017-current