The Rev. Dr. Gerhard E. Lenski, 88, who was pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Washington for 32 years, died Tuesday in a Durham, N.C., nursing home after a stroke.

Mr. Lenski became pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in 1920. During his years here, he was active in the Inter-Church Club and served two terms as president of the Washington Ministerial Association.

He earned a doctoral degree in history at American University before leaving in 1952 to take a post as professor of systematic theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif. He later served briefly as a visiting professor at the Lutheran seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., before retiring to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1970.

Mr. Lenski was born in Trenton, Ohio. He earned a bachelor's degree at Capitol University in Columbus, Ohio, and was a graduate of the Lutheran Evangelical Seminary there.

He served as a Navy Chaplain during World War I, and was assistant pastor of a church in Butler, Pa., before moving to Washington.

He is survived by hiw wife, Christine K., of the home in Chapel Hill; a son, Gerhard Jr., of Chapel Hill; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.