A big celebration is planned to celebrate the 150th year of the Salem Lutheran Church in Gretna. Some events have already been held and there will be more to come throughout the year. The next exciting celebration will be the Salem German Heritage Event on Saturday, July 22 from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. at the German-American Cultural Center and Museum at 519 Huey P. Long Avenue.

Tickets are $15 per person which includes German beer and wine, (there will also be non-alcoholic drinks) brats, baked pretzels, a variety of German pastries and cakes from Bae’s Bakery, all with German music in the background. The German Museum will be open for your pleasure with historic Lutheran church documents and pictures on display.

“Ticket number is limited and available in ADVANCE SALES ONLY. Tickets can be purchased at the Salem Lutheran Church, 418 4th Street, the Gretna Welcome Center at 1035 Huey P. Long Avenue and the German-American Cultural Center, 519 Huey P. Long Avenue,” Carol Gegenheimer Scioneaux, the church’s 150th anniversary committee chairperson said.   

“Come explore how German immigrants impacted our Gretna community and founded the first Lutheran Church in Jefferson Parish that still exists today.

The Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1871 and is led by Reverend Larry Beane, with the help of his lovely wife, Grace Beane. Pastor Beane has been at Salem since 2005,” Scioneaux said.    

The church, originally a German Presbyterian congregation, breathes history.

It joined The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in 1880. The first church was built in 1872 and replaced by the second church in 1913.  Due to damage in the 1915 great hurricane and subsequent storms, this church became unsafe and was demolished in the 1940s.

The current church, completed in 1951 at a cost of $120,000 is of Romanesque architecture, built of red brick and stone trim with biblical inscriptions carved over the entrances. Several elements of the previous churches have been incorporated into the building.  Remnants of the 1913 church include the marble pulpit, lectern and baptismal font, windows in the baptistery, and the head of the Christ carving over the outside entrance doors.  

The three bells in the tower are from the first church. The eight circa 1960 windows depicting the life of Christ are hand blown French green glass with an internal layer of amber etched to produce the images. 

Since 1871, generations of German-descended Gretna residents worshiped, raised children, were married and had burial services in the church. In fact, several members in the church today are descendants of some of the original members from the 1800s.

So appreciated is Salem Lutheran in the community that Mayor Belinda Constant presented Pastor Beane with a proclamation from the City of Gretna at the March 2023 Council Meeting.                       

“We in the city are so excited to be able to celebrate a history as rich as the one that belongs to Salem Lutheran Church. It is an icon that has spanned generations of memories. It is hard to find a family in Gretna that does not have some ties in some way to Salem Lutheran. Generations of families have walked the halls, both of the church and school,” Mayor Constant said.

“It’s a great honor to celebrate such a milestone for our congregation, and to be a historic part of Gretna’s heritage. We are blessed to have so many wonderful friends and neighbors who rejoice with us, and are celebrating this milestone with us. Thank you to everyone who is rejoicing with us,” Pastor Beane said.

“We’re grateful for the German America Cultural Center for celebrating our German heritage with us, and for the support and fellowship that we’ve enjoyed with Carol (Schlueter) and Ira (Hopkins) and others over the years. They have really gone above and beyond to support our 150th anniversary, and it’s going to be a lively celebration.

“And we have so many dear friends in the Gretna Historical Society, and in our local government as well, who make living and serving here in Gretna a joy. Thank you to all of them for their service and commitment to our community! We have a few more anniversary events planned to round out the year, and we’ll keep everyone posted as we go,” the pastor said.   

The church has a Divine Service on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and another Divine Service on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. A Matins, which is a prayer service where communion is not offered, is held Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. and on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. For further information about the German event or church services, call 504.367.5126.                          GG223.JPG