Grace Lutheran Church in Thornville, Ohio (officially “Evangelical Lutheran Grace Church,” which is a direct translation of the original German title) traces its roots to the year 1837. That year, a German-American congregation known as “St. John’s” was founded in Thornville as a joint Lutheran and Reformed endeavor. In 1859, the Lutheran and Reformed elements of the congregation began the process of separating. In 1863, the cornerstone of the Lutheran church was laid at the present location of 65 East Columbus Street. The name given to the congregation was “Grace,” and it became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio. This Lutheran organization, though having special strength in the state of Ohio, included member congregations in various states.
A fire in the church building in 1887 required the rebuilding of the church, and a new cornerstone was laid that year. This building was completely remodeled in 1962. A new church parsonage was built across the street on Park Drive in 1976. A beautiful addition with an elevator and new church office space was constructed in 2015.
Grace Lutheran Church has been a member of different Lutheran organizations throughout its history as the result of merger and schism. In 1930, the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio merged with two other historically German-American Lutheran organizations: the Iowa Synod and the much smaller Buffalo Synod. This merger produced the “old” American Lutheran Church (ALC). In 1960, the “old” ALC merged with the slightly larger Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC), which was of Norwegian background, and the much smaller United Evangelical Lutheran Church (UELC), which was of Danish background. This merger produced the “new” American Lutheran Church (TALC). In 1988, TALC merged with the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the much smaller Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), which had separated from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). This merger of 1988 produced the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 2011, Grace Lutheran was among many congregations that separated from the ELCA to form the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), of which it is presently a member.
Today, Grace Lutheran Church is an active Christian community rooted in its Lutheran heritage, focused on receiving God’s grace in Jesus Christ through God’s Word and sacraments. The old brick building of Grace Lutheran Church stands as a testimony to God’s faithfulness through the ages, and the congregation also engages in important service in the surrounding Thornville community.
Grace Lutheran Church has been served by many called pastors in its history, who are listed below:
Rev. Carl Henkel (1837-1842)
Rev. F. W. Lehman (1843-1847)
Rev. C. Albrecht (1847-1859)
Rev. J. Weber (1859-1867)
Rev. H. A. Becker (1867-1877)
Rev. Samuel Baechler (1877-1881)
Rev. A. Pflueger (1881-1885)
Rev. M. R. Walter (1886-1889)
Rev. John Snyder (1889)
Rev. L. M. Hunt (1890-1901)
Rev. S. Q. Parks (1901-1909)
Rev. A. Beck (1909-1915)
Rev. C. E. Krumm (1916-1919)
Rev. H. P. Long (1919-1925)
Rev. Walter S. Langhans (1925-1948)
Rev. Quentin Battiste (1948-1952)
Rev. Paul Radloff (1953-1957)
Rev. Robert F. Pflueger (1958-1976)
Rev. Donald R. Bachman (1976-1981)
Rev. Henry C. Seibert (1982-1991)
Rev. William A. Rush (1991-1996)
Rev. Jeff Morlock and Rev. Patti Morlock (1997-2011)
Rev. David K. Zandt (2013-2014)
Rev. Orrey McFarland (2017-2021)
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson (2022-Present)