Grace International Lutheran Church (LCMS)
At Peace Lutheran Church
4512 France Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
The Twin Cities is home to the second largest Liberian immigrant population in the US. Grace International began as a Bible Study at Concordia University in Saint Paul in 1997 with the goal of outreach to West African immigrants. Five years later, they secured space in the chapel at Peace Lutheran Church.
The founding pastor, Kennedy Gee, met the current pastor, Isaac Williams, in the Ivory Coast, ministering to fellow Liberian refugees from the civil war. They met up again when they both moved to Minnesota. Williams initially served as musical director at the church and eventually took over leadership of the congregation from Gee. While the majority of the 70 members of the congregation are Liberian, members are also African-American, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, and European.
Constituting more than half of the worship service, music plays a significant role in parishioners’ experiences at Grace International. Othello Collins, Grace International’s choir director in 2005, tried to ensure that much of the same Christian music from Africa was performed at Grace International so that the congregation could “still have the feeling of what they had in Africa” (Collins 2004). However, whereas Christian music in Liberia is generally performed a cappella, a drum set, keyboard, tambourine, tom-toms, and occasional saxophone accompany the music at Sunday services at Grace International.
Listen to the music of Grace International:
Musicians: Othello Collins (drum and voice), Elizabeth Allison (voice and percussion), Isaac Williams (keyboard and voice), and Rebecca J. Nyanwleh (voice and percussion).
1. Grace International Praise Group, Grace International Lutheran Church, “David O.” Language: Bassa. mp3 download
2. Grace International Praise Group, Grace International Lutheran Church, “Thank you God.” Language: Kru (and Bassa). mp3 download
A People Torn: A documentary by the Star Tribune
MPR: story about Liberians in MN