Pastor Gary Grindeland of Grace Lutheran Church is retiring. In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Grindeland discussed the details of his life post-retirement.
The man from the Midwest
Grindeland is originally from Ames, Iowa. He began his career as an assistant pastor at Bethesda Lutheran Church in 1980. From there he served as pastor at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church until 1991. He became pastor at Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church that same year, where he served until he left for Bayonne in 2013.
According to Grindeland, he came to know Bayonne through his work in New York. He was CEO and pastor of Seafarers International House in New York City, the maritime ministry of the Church. Seafarers houses American maritime workers at East 15th Street and frequently visits ships in port, nearly 100 a year.
A Bayonne regular
Because of that, Grindeland was regularly in Bayonne. He loved the local restaurants and fishing off the peninsula. Through a colleague at Seafarers, he was introduced to Grace Lutheran Church.
“One of my port chaplains was the pastor at Grace Lutheran,” Grindeland said. Several years later, Grindeland became pastor.
Grindeland also became involved with Trinity Lutheran Church and Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jersey City. He’s left his mark on Bayonne and Jersey City.
At Grace Lutheran, Grindeland instructs English as a Second Language classes, leads daily mediations, weekly faith services for his congregation, and much more. He’s regarded as a pillar of the community.
Meanwhile, Grindeland was flying to Milwaukee to be with his wife and family every month. That continued when they relocated to Florida. Grindeland said the move to end his career permanently came from a desire to rejoin his family.
He will be stepping away from his involvement not only at Grace Lutheran, but at two other churches, and embracing retirement.
“I’ll be fishing, relaxing, and watching the grass grow,” he said.
Grindeland’s last mass as pastor at Grace Lutheran will be on Oct. 3. Residents wanting to say goodbye should do so then.
While the pastor is happy to open a new chapter of his life with his family, he will always have a special place in his heart for the city: “I love Bayonne.”
On Sept. 12, an interfaith ceremony was held at Grace Lutheran with Grindeland, Rev. Dorothy Patterson of Wallace Temple AME Zion Church, Sister Agnes Martinez of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and their congregations. It was a goodbye ceremony for Grindeland. The three often got together.
“It was interfaith in the sense that we all gathered,” Patterson said. “Gary and I don’t mind doing things that spontaneous.”
To add to the spontaneity, First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy made a surprise appearance the ceremony.
“I received a call that the First Lady Tammy Murphy wanted to come to Bayonne to visit and worship in the community,” Patterson said. “I contacted Gary, and we made it happen.”
‘We are all one family’
Patterson said this was a first for her.
“I’ve been here for 11 years now, and I don’t recall having the First Lady ever visit church and stay the whole entire time and worship since I’ve been here,” Patterson said. ”It was a nice touch to have First Lady Tammy Murphy come.”
According to Patterson, Murphy is not just a public figure but also an advocate for women, citing her New Jersey Nurture initiative to reduce maternal and infant mortality in women of color.
“For me personally, her initiative is really relevant, and it’s something that has substance that we will be able to see the lasting affects,” Patterson said. “That’s important as well, not just that she’s a public figure but because what she’s doing is impactful, and it’s changing people’s lives. From my point of view, that’s what makes its special.”
According to Grindeland, who was previously the state coordinator of Lutheran Disaster Response in Wisconsin, said it was nice to see a show of government and faith unity in the wake of Ida. Murphy’s message of “we are all one family” resonated well with the interfaith ceremony.
Grindeland appreciated Murphy for coming and also thanked Mayor James Davis, who was in attendance, for his support.
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