Luther's Ninety-five Theses, or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, sent to Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz on October 31, 1517, a date now considered the start of the Reformation.

Our teachers - 1st grade: Mrs. Sandler, 2nd: Mrs. Ruening, 3rd: Mr. Stietzel, 4th: Mr. Stietzel & Mr. Walter, 5th & 6th: Mr. Gerlach, 7th & 8th: Mr. Stahmer - Walter Fiore and Clifford Koenig preceded Mr. Stahmer as principal.

Rev. William G. Hempel

Rev. August Koerber

​​​​​​​​​Rev. Paul G. Behling

Rev. Berthold von Schenk

Old Grace Lutheran Church on 199th Street between Valentine and Briggs Avenues

The Reverend Elmer F. Giese

All Grace Lutheran photographs and historical information are courtesy of the Atlantic District, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. A special thanks is given to archivist Marcia Kollmann for her generous assistance.

This page is dedicated to the memories of Rev. Jack H. Traugott (1933-2016), Rev. Charles A. Darocy (1926-2011) and Rev. Joseph H. Gilmore (1943-2020). Jack served at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church (founded in 1860 as the Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische St. Johannes Kirche) on Fulton Avenue near 169th Street. Pastor Darocy presided over the Bedford Park Presbyterian Church (established 1900) on Bainbridge Avenue at Bedford Park Boulevard. Joe (Lutheran raised) led the congregation at South Presbyterian Church (present site dedicated in 1869) on Broadway in Dobbs Ferry of Westchester County NY for over 30 years.

The old Grace nave and chancel

Rev. James T. Gajadhar

This Christogram, denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) - iota eta sigma or ΙΗΣ - became the most common in Latin-speaking medieval Europe.

Pastors Previously Called

Pastor Giese leading the assemblage of prayer at the dedication of the new church's lower unit on Rogation Sunday April 29, 1951.

Edgar Helmold (left) and Robert Ulland, who would have graduated GLS in 1967 and '68, respectively. Like so many others, their families fled the Bronx for greener pastures . . . good friends from long ago.

The old Grace Lutheran School, located on Bainbridge Avenue near 201st Street in the parish house adjacent to Bedford Park Congregational Church at the corner.

From the Golden Anniversary Booklet (1905-1955)

Rev. Louis T. Buchheimer

The Luther Rose was a seal designed for Luther at the behest of John Frederick of Saxony in 1530, while Luther was staying at Cobert Fortress during the Diet of Augsburg. 

The adjoining new Grace Lutheran School

The Grand Concourse at Bedford Park Boulevard

Mrs. Kovac  Mr. Beckmann

The new Grace nave, transept and sanctuary

Rev. George Ramsudh

Rev. Louis A. Linn

The Monogramma Christi Chi-Rho, displayed on the Labarum of Constantine I vexillum, was an early symbol of Christianity.

Royal Arcanum Hall on Webster Avenue between 195th and 196th Streets

GLS Class of 1967, including Your Humble Webmaster (Presbyterian and Salutatorian) , with Principal Philip W. Stahmer

The Norwood News     July 27, 2006

After years of declining membership, Grace Lutheran Church and School has finally called it quits in Bedford Park. Just last week, church officials quietly put the Grace Lutheran complex at 2930 Valentine Ave. — which includes a church, school and rectory — up for sale on Craigslist for $3 million. “It’s hard to keep a church running and heated when there are few members,” said a member of the church who didn’t want to be named. The church relies on donations from its congregation, which has fallen to only 50 to 60 members. This will be the last summer session at the school, and all signs indicate that it’s ready to shut down. Outside, the gates on the church are closed. Inside the school, offices, hallways and most classrooms are empty. A couple of teachers instruct the few students who are left, while other kids put books away in boxes. Even church insiders were surprised by the Internet posting. “I had no idea that the church was being sold on Craigslist,” said George Ramsudh, Grace Lutheran’s pastor. He has been directing all questions regarding the church to the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The Atlantic District did not return calls for comment. Last year, in what is now looking like a sign of things to come, the church sold one of its school buildings on the Grand Concourse for $625,000. “This case is not isolated. I have sold seven churches before,” said Victor Weinberger, a broker working to sell the church. “Membership dwindles and usually that’s the case.” “This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the right purchaser,” reads the ad on Craigslist. Already, Weinberger said, there are a couple of churches expressing interest in purchasing the property.

Addenda

The Royal Arcanum Hall was located at 2715 Webster Avenue and was the meeting place for the Royal Arcanum (a fraternal order like the Odd Fellows or Freemasons). We have one newsletter entitled “The Bronx Council Orator” from Bronx Council, No. 1416, Royal Arcanum, dated January 1910, but the meeting place in it is listed at Hallock’s Hall on White Plains Road. Maybe this was a different lodge than the one that met on Webster Avenue or maybe the lodge that met on Webster moved locations by this point in time.  The Bedford Park Casino was located at 392 Bedford Park Boulevard (also sometimes still called E. 200th St. in the early twentieth century) between Webster and Decatur Avenues. As far as I can gather, the Bedford Park Casino was a general meeting and social hall, though we do not have any publications or memorabilia associated with it. The Bedford Park Academy, originally known as the Drake Business School, opened in 1932 as a private secondary school at West 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1972 at the Bronx location.

- Dr. Steven Payne, Bronx County Historical Society

In 1916 a movie house known as the U.S. Theatre, with a seating capacity of 1600, opened at 2715 Webster. It closed in 1937 and reopened the next  year as the Decatur, with seating reduced to 950. Permanently shut down in 1950, it was later demolished. P.S. 54 now occupies the entire area from 195th to 197th, with 196th no longer reaching the avenue. 392 Bedford Park Blvd. is currently a neighborhood family health center.  The old school on Bainbridge Avenue is now the Bedford Park Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the church on Valentine Avenue is now the St. Samuel Cathedral COGIC (Church of God in Christ), a Pentecostal house of worship.  The location of the Bedford Park Academy, 2950 Grand Concourse, is now occupied by the Grand Concourse, a PCMH residential facility for NYC DHS approved applicants.

Berthold von Schenk was a cousin of Claus von Stauffenberg, the Wehrmacht officer who unsuccessfully attempted to assasinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 at his Wolf's Lair headquarters in Poland.

James Gajadhar preceded George Ramsudh as Grace pastor.  When the latter started, Ms. Yvette Tinnerman was the principal.

- Y. H. W.

A note from Rev. Gajadhar

I started as Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church & School in the Bronx on December 1, 1996. I was not 'Called' because I was not on the Roster of the LCMS. I served on 'contract' as I pursued 'Roster Status' through the Colloquy process. I had come from the Lutheran Church in Guyana, where I served as a Pastor and also as the President of that Church Body. Shortly thereafter George Ramsudh, also from Guyana, joined the teaching staff and also served as the 'Deacon' of the Church. During that time he pursued a path to Ordination and when he successfully completed that program, he was 'Called' by Grace and was ordained as their Pastor. I continued to serve alongside him and shortly thereafter the 9/11 attack on our country took place. 9/11 resulted in the loss of a significant number of students that school year. Many of our parents worked in and around the World Trade Center. We lost more than 25 students by the end of September. At that time, they had only payed their first month's tuition but were forced to move from New York to take up residence mainly down south. Faculty and Staff were already contracted for that School year but the expected tuition income to honor those contracts was significantly reduced, unexpectedly. The Church & School never recovered from that financial disaster. Eventually, under guidance of the Atlantic District, we made the painful decision to close both Church & School mainly for financial reasons.  When I came to Grace, there were approximately 169 students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Grades 4 through 8 was in the Bedford Park building along with an Administrative office. Kindergarten through 3rd grade was in the Valentine & 199th Street Building. We grew to to a maximum of 208 at one point, by placing a desk and chair in every possible space that we could. Our Kindergarten class had a 'waiting' list of more that 25 students at one point. We were doing well, but 9/11 happened and the financial fallout was devastating. The Pastor who I succeeded was Rev. James Brown. He was a young pastor, just out of seminary, and his tenure at Grace was very brief.

Ground breaking (above left) and cornerstone laying (above) ceremonies, performed respectively on May 10th and June 7th of 1914 for the first Grace Church.

Cornerstone rite (left) conducted on November 5, 1950 for the new church with third grader George Snider representing Grace School and Pastor Giese.

Martin Luther, O.S.A (1483-1546)

Grace Chapel, Parish House and Parsonage on Valentine Avenue between 199th and 200th Streets

Elder Walter M. Lucker 

First Principal Walter E. Stietzel

Grace Lutheran Church at Valentine Avenue and 199th Street in the Bronx