Grace Episcopal Church warmly welcomes the public to a slate of events scheduled for October 14-15, 2017, in celebration of their sesquicentennial. An open house will be held on Saturday from 2-4 pm, featuring docent-led historical tours of the church campus and a spotlight on outreach ministries. On Sunday, an old-fashioned hymn sing at 4:30 pm will be followed by a potluck.
About the Open House
Throughout the month of October, Grace’s anniversary celebrations turn to their legacy as a downtown church with a historic commitment to outreach. The community is invited to learn more about this legacy of faith by visiting on Saturday, October 14, from 2-4 pm. Docent-guided historical tours of the church campus will begin every half-hour, and will include the sanctuary, rebuilt in 2005, various displays of historical items related to Episcopal worship and music, Jubilee House, and the Food Pantry. Informational displays for other Grace outreach ministries will also be set up in the parish hall. “We worship and pray together each weekend in the sanctuary, but ‘church’ really happens outside that structure when we build relationships and strive to meet the needs of the community by providing essential resources,” says Ann Hackett, parish administrator and anniversary committee co-chair.
Worship services on Saturday at 5 pm, and at 8 and 10 am on Sunday, will be centered on an intentional recommitment to their Jubilee Ministries—Jubilee House, the Food Pantry, and Community Lunch. Former rector and retired priest, The Rev. D. Edward “Ed” Emenheiser, who led Grace from 1994–2007 during a pivotal period in Grace’s recent history, will preside, vestry member Eddie Grim will preach, and the worship will be set on God’s justice and Grace’s renewal of vows as a Jubilee Ministry Center. All are welcome.
On Sunday, October 15, two public events focused on the long-held traditions of singing together and church potlucks will conclude the weekend’s activities. At 4:30 pm, Grace’s Chancel Choir and Grace Harmony, the church’s contemporary music group, will lead an old-fashioned hymn sing. A few core hymns that have historical importance in the life of Grace will serve as anchor pieces in between requests for favorites. “Hymn singing has been an important part of the Episcopal liturgy for generations. We hope to honor that legacy by joining together and singing some of our favorites through the ages,” says Katherine Will, music and worship coordinator. Immediately following, at 5:30, all are invited to share in a Sunday supper potluck. Guests are encouraged to bring a favorite dish to pass—a nostalgic recipe from childhood or a comfort food that has special meaning. Both events will especially interest those from other churches who enjoy these traditions.
About Grace Episcopal Church
This year marks the sesquicentennial of the presence of The Episcopal Church in Traverse City. The first recorded Episcopal worship services held in Traverse City were in 1867, led by a missionary priest from Muskegon. Grace officially organized in 1873. The first church building was constructed on State Street in 1876, and the parish was formally admitted to the Diocese of Western Michigan in 1877. In 1897, the church was moved, by horse, from its original location to its present site. The parish hall, to the west of the church, was built in 1966.
At the end of the twentieth century, Grace had outgrown its worship space and so a new sanctuary was built in 2005. This new worship space mirrored several of the architectural design features of the original sanctuary. Some elements from the previous sanctuary, such as stained-glass windows and certain altar features, were also preserved and incorporated into the new one. More historical insights will be given in the docent-led tours during the open house.
Grace Episcopal Church is located at 341 Washington Street, at the corner of Washington and Boardman Avenue at the edge of the Boardman Neighborhood Historical District in downtown Traverse City. Free street parking is available, along with a small parking lot with handicap spaces behind the church in the alley off Boardman.
More articles about the history of Grace are being published on their anniversary page: www.gracetraversecity.org/welcome/150th-anniversary.
About Grace’s Outreach Ministries
Grace Episcopal Church has been a trailblazer in Christian outreach ministry for many decades:
- In 1976, Grace established the first food storage program in Traverse City, which was called The Pantry Shelf and was directed by Fern and Ralph Orcutt. This evolved into Grace’s Food Pantry, which currently offers a variety of emergency food options for those in need.
- In 1977, Grace’s rector, The Rev. Tom Stoll, his wife Sterling, and others were responsible for the beginnings of hospice care in Traverse City. The triggering event was the terminal illness of Helen Furman who did not want to stay in the hospital to finish her days. She and her husband Pete were members of Grace and owners of the Ben Franklin store on Eighth Street.
- The first CROP Walk in Traverse City was held in 1981, and Fr. Tom Stoll was the coordinator. CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service, a national organization, and organized by local congregations or groups to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world.
- In 1991, Chris Black initiated community lunches at Grace on Fridays. She served eighteen guests. This is believed to be the first such offering in Traverse City, and now several churches serve community meals. Grace continues to serve lunches every Friday.
Grace is one of over 600 Jubilee Ministry Centers in The Episcopal Church, a national program that encourages a ministry of joint discipleship with poor and oppressed people to meet basic human needs and to build a just society. The national Jubilee Ministry program started in 1983, but Grace did not become an official Jubilee Ministry Center until 2005.
“Grace has provided a lot over the years, and continues to be actively involved in the well-being of the people of Traverse City, but our crown jewel is our Jubilee Ministries,” says anniversary committee co-chair James Deaton. “Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those on the margins of society, befriending the down-and-out—we take Jesus’ words very seriously.”