A Capsule History of Grace Lutheran Church

Grace Lutheran Church of Naples was organized on May 29, 1955, but worship services were conducted by the Rev. Eugene F. Helms, then Pastor of St. Michael Lutheran Church, Ft. Myers, beginning in 1952. At first, worship was held in the Naples Woman’s Club.

In 1956, the Rev. G. H. Hentschel was commissioned missionary-at-large for the FL-GA District of the Missouri Synod and assigned to serve Grace congregation. During Pastor Hentschel’s time of service, in 1956, worship services were moved to a store-front at 485 Fifth Ave. S. and the property on Banyan Blvd., which is still the church’s home, was purchased.


Grace church has been served by seven pastors who were called into service by the congregation itself: Pastor James L. Dishop, 1957-1962; Pastor George W. Price, 1963-1972; Pastor Donald C. Ziegler, 1972-1989; Pastor Douglas E. Meyer, 1990-1992; Pastor James K. Honig, 1993-2002; Pastor Peter R. Reetz, 2003-2008, Pastor Keith A. Lingsch 2009 to the present.

During Pastor Dishop’s tenure, the first building was constructed in 1959. It was a multi-purpose building with a chancel on one end and a single-wall kitchen on the other, with a low-pitched roof and a flat ceiling.


While Pastor Price served the congregation, an addition was constructed in 1968 on the south end, providing separate facilities for education and fellowship and with a full-room kitchen.

Under the guidance of Pastor Ziegler, the worship portion of the building was demolished and extended northward, with laminated arches and a high-pitched roof in 1975.


While Pastor Meyer was at Grace, a major building project in 1992 enlarged the narthex and added new offices and classrooms and a separate fellowship hall with its own kitchen.

During the pastorate of James Honig, planning was begun for a major renovation of the worship-space and narthex. This project was completed in 2004, during Pastor Reetz’s ministry.

A pipe organ was added to the worship space by Timothy Fink and Company of New York.

Grace church has operated a preschool since 1994. The congregation also supports Christ Community Lutheran School, which has been in operation since 1998.


The congregation celebrated the 50th anniversary of its organization on November 13, 2005. At this time a new cornerstone was dedicated, which contains items from the original cornerstone of 1959, additions from the time-capsule of 1980, and new items prepared in connection with the 50th anniversary.


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