ECW has been committed to service for over 150 years

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

By Ellen Schrader

Two weeks ago I set out to write a brief piece about the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and its history at Grace.  An odd feeling came over me as I held the notebook of the first secretary of what was then called the Women’s Auxiliary, dated Nov. 14, 1895.  I was handling a book that had been handled by another woman from another time, yet we were linked by faith and a desire to serve our God.  Mrs. E. L. Sprague was that secretary, wife of senior warden Elvin Sprague and part of the couple who reinvigorated the parish during those years.  The local chapter was encouraged by a letter from the diocesan secretary of the Auxiliary ‘giving ideas of the good work which is being carried on in other localities.’ In a time when a spool of thread cost four cents and three yards of flannel cost 24 cents, the ladies paid the insurance premium for the church in the amount of $4.75.  In addition, the Auxiliary paid for the rector’s fuel (wood), the janitor, renting tables and chairs from the Hannah Lay Co., electric lights, and a casket.  In spite of all that, they managed to send $5.00 to the Industrial School for Boys of Southern Virginia, a home for delinquent children which opened in 1892.  Bazaars, socials, and member dues were their primary mode of fundraising.  Thus began our long history of women’s service to the parish and those in need.

By 1922, the ladies were contributing to children’s aid ($127.18) and the building fund ($334.91), and in 1925 disbursed $890 to the vestry.  That same year, the Women’s Auxiliary national organization (including all its local chapters) was recognized by the National Church and women were appointed to national standing committees.  Of note, General Convention declined to authorize women as licensed lay leaders that year.

During the 1950’s, the Rev. Francis Foley, Rector, asked the Women’s Auxiliary to split into two separate guilds, in order to accommodate the work schedules of some ladies, and the meeting preferences of others.  St. Catherine’s Guild was made up of young mothers and working ladies, and St. Margaret’s Guild consisted of ‘mature’ ladies.

In 1965, the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Church became the General Division of Women’s Work (yes, really), and the diocesan and local Auxiliary units became the Episcopal Church Women.  At Grace, St. Catherine’ and St. Margaret’s combined to become the Grace chapter of ECW.

In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, ECW raised money by providing food for catered events, like graduation parties, weddings, and cocktail parties (check out the ads reproduced on this page).  Many still remember the annual Peony Tea, the Silver Teas at Christmas, and that spring dinner that fed 800 people and raised a ton of money for outreach.

By 1980, ECW was providing funds annually (to the tune of $3000) to support the parish, local charities, the national church, and foreign missions.  The group continued to disburse funds for use by the vestry, and supported the discretionary fund, among others.  Locally, ECW supported a variety of charities, including Third Level Crisis Center and the Women’s Resource Center.  Nationally, they continued support to seminaries, foreign relief efforts, and St. Gregory’s Abbey, among others.

By 1985, there was a notable decline in traditional women’s ministries nationally, and in 1988, ECW ceased to exist at Grace.  In its place, The Rev. Mark Story, Rector, requested that ECW members become part of a group called Parish Life, continuing the work of the original Women’s Auxiliary.  Parish Life remained active until it was disbanded in 2013 by the Rev. Daniel Richards, Rector.  Its work has continued, through the individual efforts of its former members.  ECW has been resurrected across the country, and is active within our diocese, but so far it has not found new life at Grace.  What does our future hold?



This article could not have been written without the help of the 150th committee, especially Kathy Woods and Maxcie Latimer; and the information provided by the Episcopal Women’s History Project, available online at

Voice of the Vestry: Fall is a time to awaken to God’s creation

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

By Kathryn Holl

It was two am when I felt a nudge from our puppy Leo to go outside. I wanted to sleep yet I felt his eyes staring at me.  Quietly I walked to the door, not to awaken the household, and stepped outside with him.   He walked square to the middle of the front garden and sat down.  “Leo” I said “come on, what’s up?”  and he just stared at me.  I stepped through the doorway, barefoot, into the garden.   I walked over to him and stood.  In that moment I looked up.   The sky was lit up with millions of stars from horizon to horizon.  I stood in awe at God’s beautiful creation and universe, grateful for the stir to awaken when usually I sleep.

How often I walk around asleep even in the light of day.  I can be so “busy” that I forget to notice the single red cardinal on the hedge row, the lichen formed in a perfect circle on the tree trunk, the way light touches a single leaf or a neighbor’s need.

Fall is time for me to awaken to a world God so carefully created. It is time to remember and lovingly steward my many bountiful gifts. I  give thanks for the community of Grace.

Vestry minutes – 9/19/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

Sept 19, 2017
6:00 pm

Vestry Members:  Clare Andreasson, Karl Bastian, James Deaton, Maria DiStefano-Post, Eddie Grim, Kathryn Holl, Sue Kelly, Michael Mittelstaedt, Bill Smith, Jeff Tibbits, Marian Vermeulen, Jeff Wescott (Absentees in Italics)

Guests Present: None
Staff Present:  None  
Clergy Present: None

Prayer and Check-in:
The vestry checked in with one another by sharing prayer requests.  Eddie opened the meeting with prayer.

Scripture & Study:
Eddie led us in a reflection on the importance of abiding in Christ, based on a scripture passage from the Gospel of John.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
Approved minutes from the regularly scheduled vestry meeting on 8/15/2017 by acclamation as amended.
Approved minutes of special vestry meeting on 8/23/17 by acclamation as amended.
Approved minutes of special vestry meeting on 8/31/17 by acclamation.


Rector Report:  None

Treasurer’s Report: Mark Stackable Present
The Finance Committee is pleased with the way the distributions are now being made to Grace Church from the Hughes Organ Fund.

They pointed out that the Organ Fund has the available funds to hire talent but they recognize that it can be hard to find talent.

In addition, the Finance Committee affirmed the decision to offer the use of the Brown House first floor apartment as housing for the Interim Rector.

Parish Administrator Report:
Love Inc. proposes that Grace Episcopal donate $4,000 in support of their fundraising efforts through participation in Swingshift and the Stars.  The Vestry decided that we need more information and Eddie Grim suggested that he will discuss this with the Jubilee Ministries.

The calendar dates for November and December 2017 vestry meetings were reviewed for possible holiday travel conflicts.  The Vestry will make the decision on revised dates at the October 2017 meeting when our new interim rector is in place and when we have more members present.

Senior Warden Report:
The following online vote was made and passed unanimously on September 9, 2017:

Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Jeff Wescott – to offer an interim salary package which includes a salary of $80,000 with the option of using the Brown House as a rectory or a housing allowance of $21,000, up to 5 weeks vacation, and the option of up to 3 months negotiable extension at the end of the contract which will be set to expire when a permanent rector is called or when specifically negotiated with the interim candidate.  Motion passed.

The vestry affirmed this online motion at this regular September vestry meeting.

Clare then presented the final version of the interim rector covenant which Kathryn Costas accepted and signed and which included a salary of $80,000 with housing provided by Grace Church in the Brown House first floor apartment.  This covenant needed to be ratified by the vestry.

Motion by Sue Kelly and seconded by Karl Bastian –  to approve the Interim Rector covenant as accepted and signed by the Rev Kathryn Costas and the Senior Warden Clare Andreasson.  Motion passed.

The covenant will be sent to the Diocesan Office to be signed by Canon William Spaid and Bishop Whayne Hougland.  A copy of the signed covenant will be kept on file in the church office and in the Diocesan office.

In addition, the vestry was presented with a resolution with regard to the housing allowance provided by Grace Church for Kathryn Costas.

 Motion by Eddie Grim and seconded by Jeff Tibbits to accept the following resolution:

 The following resolution was duly adopted by the Vestry of Grace Episcopal Church at a regularly scheduled meeting held on September 19, 2017, a quorum being present.

Whereas, the Reverend J. Kathryn Costas is compensated by Grace Episcopal Church exclusively for services as a minister of the gospel; and

Whereas, Grace Episcopal Church provides Rev. Costas with rent-free use of a church owned rectory as compensation for services that she renders to the church in the exercise of her ministry; and

Whereas, Rev. Costas incurs expenses for living in church- provided housing; therefore, it is hereby

Resolved, that the annual compensation paid to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2017 shall be $20,000 of which, $2,500 is hereby designated to be a housing allowance pursuant to Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code; and it is further

Resolved, that the designation of $2,500 as a housing allowance shall apply to calendar year 2017 and all future years unless otherwise provided by the vestry; and it is further

Resolved, that as additional compensation to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2017 and for all future years, unless otherwise provided for by this vestry, Rev. Costas shall be permitted to live in the church-owned rectory located at 222 Boardman Avenue, Traverse City, MI 49684, and that no rent or other fee shall be payable by Rev. Costas for such occupancy and use.

Motion passed.

Clare presented two building use requests to the vestry.  The first was a request from Tom McIntyre to rent our space for a neighborhood meeting with regard to the building he is developing behind us.  The vestry agreed to this request in the hopes that it would facilitate an opportunity for our neighbors and those impacted by this development to raise questions and concerns.

The second request was from an organization named Indivisible, seeking to meet regularly at Grace Church.  The vestry tabled this request until Kathryn Costas’ arrival when it will be discussed with her.

 Junior Warden Report:
            No Junior Warden report

 Old Business: 
            No old business

 New Business:
 Karl Bastian, Stewardship Committee, reported that they are going to kick off the pledge campaign this year on October 1st with the theme “Grateful Harvest.” The pledge card and the poster are already done.  There are testimonial weekends to come with thematic events lined up.   The Committee is seeking in-person testimonies for Oct 7, 8, 14, and 15.

Eddie Grim reported on the work of the Jubilee Ministries Subcommittee and presented recommendations to the vestry. In summary, these recommendations reaffirm the volunteer-led nature of these ministries and strengthen ties and improve communication between the ministries and the congregation. These recommendations need to be reviewed by the vestry, and adopted at our next meeting in October.

Forum for Congregational Concerns:

  Core Ministry Reports
            Rector Search Committee:

Follow-up & Follow-through:

Sue will write a letter to Kathy Will thanking her for enhancements to music and worship.

Michael Mittelstaedt will follow up with Kathy Will on seeking musicians/talent for hire.

Compline followed by dismissal at 8:15 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Jubilee House – Built on God’s Love

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Jubilee Ministries, Ministry of the week.

By Glenda Andrews
Jubilee House Director

Jubilee – just the word brings joy to your heart and a smile to your face. When you put this word alongside Bible references where debts are forgiven, you start to understand what Jubilee Ministries are all about here at Grace.

In 2004 our sanctuary was too small, so Grace decided to build a larger one. Echoing similar decisions made in the past, Grace chose to stay in the center of town where the needs were the greatest, serving the needs of the poor and those living on the edges of society. The Rev. Ed Emenheiser, rector at that time, felt there should not be a new sanctuary unless there was a new outreach ministry as well. Research was done to find out what unmet needs were in our city. We discovered that a daytime shelter that could provide hot showers and free laundry was needed, and so Jubilee House was formed.

From these small beginnings in 2006, Jubilee House has grown to where it is today. It is a direct and dynamic link between our theology and our ethics, that being the talk of our faith is the walk of our faith. The Bible calls us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, and to respond to the gospel call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care of the sick. For when we do for the least of these among us, we do for Christ. This is the core of our faith. This ministry is rooted in honoring God’s presence in each human being, and believing that each person has value no matter their life’s circumstances. When we offer our services, we are offering them to God. When people walk lighter, when we can ease their pain, we are also giving them God’s love to help heal their wounded spirits and broken hearts. In turn, we heal ourselves as well.

In this house, an average of 45 people a day come to find shelter from their storms. This is where they can find rest and peace, and have daily needs met. They experience God’s love from the volunteers who give of their time and hearts to these children of God. God’s love is strong and present when a loved one is remembered and a “family community” can come to mourn.

My prayer is that this ministry, as an extension of Grace Church, will continue to grow in faith where all people are seen as equals—not only in God’s eyes, but also in ours. We do not see, treat, or judge others based on the clothes they wear, their background, their financial situation, their race, creed, or religion. May God give us eyes to see them as brothers and sisters, God’s own.

Is God calling you to join this vital ministry on behalf of our neighbors in need? I’d love to share more with you. Please contact me at or 231-275-0036

Vestry minutes – 8/15/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

August 15, 2017
Feast Day of St. Mary the Virgin
6:00 pm

Vestry Members: Vestry Members:  Clare Andreasson, Karl Bastian, James Deaton, Maria DiStefano-Post, Eddie Grim, Kathryn Holl, Sue Kelly, Michael Mittelstaedt, Bill Smith, Jeff Tibbits, Marian Vermeulen, Jeff Wescott (Absentees in Italics)

Guests Present: Canon William Spaid
Staff Present:  Ann Hackett, Parish Administrator
Clergy Present: The Rev. Carlton Kelley

Prayer and Check-in:
Clare opened with prayer and we checked in with one another.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The minutes from 7/18/17 were approved by acclamation.
The agenda for 8/15/17 by was approved by acclamation.

Rector Report:  None

Treasurer’s Report:  Mark Stackable

The Finance Committee reported that the “Contributions from Pledges” is significantly down, year-over-year, and shows a two-and-a-half year downward trend.  Mark reiterated that, while Grace enjoys some capital growth, cash conservation remains imperative.

Karl Bastian reassured Mark that the Stewardship Committee is, indeed, up and running and planning preliminary activities for our stewardship drive.

Mark shared with us the F.C. conversation about the recommendation from the Rector Search Committee that the Vestry consider 1) a signing bonus and 2) increasing compensation as the Vestry revises the Rector compensation package.  Mark said that “signing bonuses”, as such, are subjective to each candidate and can be offered in a variety of ways.

Parish Administrator Report: 

The City of Traverse City will replace a portion of the water service line that serves Jubilee House, switching out galvanized steel (which includes a lead gooseneck connection) to 1” copper. Alpers Excavating is contracted to do the City’s portion; Grace has to cover the cost from JH to curbside. Eddie moved that the Vestry accept Alpers’ proposal quote of $2,325.00 to install a new one-inch copper water line from JH to curb stop into the Jubilee House.  Jeff T. seconded. Motion carried.

Rev. Carlton Kelley’s departure makes necessary adjustments to various financial accounts. Ann Hackett provided the Vestry with a list of those who will have signature privileges on various financial accounts. James moved the Vestry accept this list of names.  Eddie seconded. Motion carried.

Supporting LOVE INC: Discussion tabled, in view of the length of this meeting.

Ann Hackett also gave the Vestry updates on the following items:

–Kathy Will’s efforts to improve the music/sound system in the sanctuary.

–A ‘Thank You” note from Safe Harbor, acknowledging the contribution from Grace Church for the new permanent shelter.

–Finale of the annual audit, due by September.

–The progress on fixing the leaking Sanctuary roof.

–Brown House bathroom remodeling progress.

–Jubilee House emergency exit progress.

–Stewardship Committee’s Campaign, chaired by Karl Bastian, has begun its work.

–Our insurance claim for sewage backup on June 23.


Senior Warden Report: 

Supply Clergy:  Clare was pleased to report that our Bishop has granted special permission for the Rev. D. Edward Emenheiser to preside at services for October 14/15, and that Fr. Ed has joyously accepted! With the hiring of Rev. LaRae Rutenbar and the continuing work of Rev. David Lillvis and Rev. Meredith Hunt, Grace Church is well-supplied with clergy.

Brown House:  Several parishioners have suggested using the lower apartment of the Brown House be adapted for Rev. Rutenbar’s use, rather than house her at the Park Place on her weekends with us.

Participation Needs: Clare asked the Vestry to consider stepping into the great need for LEMs, ushers, lectors, and greeters.

Better Jubilee Ministries Connections: Eddie, James, and Bill have devoted time and attention to JH and its ministries and this has been well-received. Clare has asked the Vestry to look at ways to foster work on fostering even better connections between the Vestry and these other essential ministries at Grace.

Adult Ministry Offerings: Clare let the Vestry know of several conversations she has had with people who would like some kind of adult formation “classes” on Wednesday nights. She encouraged the Vestry to begin thinking and creatively brainstorming ways to address this need in our parish.

Junior Warden Report:
150th Anniversary Committee Update:  The next big event is the installation of a timeline of Grace Church.
The Great Grace Parish Picnic is Sept 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm in the Grace Church parking lot in a tent.

Community Open house and Old Fashion Hymn Sing with potluck—Saturday and Sunday, October 14-15.

Communications Committee Update: The Grace Church Directory is making progress.

Old Business:

New Business:

Forum for Congregational Concerns:

Rector Search Committee:
Discussion about our desire for members of the Vestry to meet with the leadership of the RSC, along with spiritual advisor Rosemary Hagan, to discuss how best to move forward with the search for our new Rector.  A motion was made by Eddie Grim and seconded by Bill Smith to request that the RSC continue to pause in its work until after this meeting, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday evening, August 23.  Motion passed.

Follow-up & Follow-through:

Fr. Kelley closed the meeting with prayer.
This was followed by dismissal at 9:15 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Jeffrey Wescott
Temporary Substitute Vestry Clerk

Food Pantry—A Jubilee Ministry alleviating food insecurity

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Jubilee Ministries.

By Nancy Johnson
Food Pantry Coordinator

People in the Grand Traverse area are hungry, often very hungry. In fact, one out of four people in this region experience food insecurity. Food security, defined by the USDA, “means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” This means that so many of our neighbors go to bed at night after missing one or more meals that day due to no food. They also worry where they can obtain food for the next day, and the days after that.

Many years ago, a few Grace Church parishioners started to address this hunger by providing food in the undercroft of the church. 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. Over time, it has expanded and moved a few times – from two different locations in the church’s basement to a small room in Jubilee House to its current home. An extensive renovation of the garage behind Grace, made possible by Ray and Frances Spedding, facilitated this move in 2014.

In the past, we provided clients with a bag or two of basic groceries, pre-filled by our volunteers. But now we give a flexible shopping experience, providing a variety of emergency food options for those in need. We are an active member of the five-county Northwest Food Coalition, a justice-minded group of food pantries, baby pantries, and meal sites. We get weekly deliveries from Food Rescue, a program of Goodwill Northern Michigan, which provides the pantry with tremendous amounts of produce, meat, bread, and other items.

Partner churches supply us with food and cash donations, and we participate in local food drives. Grace parishioners have also been generous through the years by donating food as well as cash to buy needed items – all tremendously appreciated. Because of these gifts, we can occasionally offer the “fixings” for an extra dinner to our clients beyond their normal allotment of food. What fun, and what a blessing!

What is my prayer for our future? I pray that Grace will continue this vital ministry by providing nutritious food to our neighbors in need, and that those who live in the Grand Traverse area will become more secure in their food accessibility. May a family never go hungry again!

We have lost a few volunteers recently, so I invite you to consider joining us during distribution days on Mondays and Fridays, beginning at noon. If you feel God leading you to minister in this way, please contact me at

What will you share in our Grateful Harvest?

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Stewardship.

Dear Friends of Grace,

As I write this, the heat of summer is hanging on with a vengeance, delaying the inevitable fall colors and welcome cool temperatures. The seasons are definitely in transition. In much the same way, Grace is also in a period of profound transition. We’re celebrating our 150th Anniversary; a monumental milestone, to be sure. We’re also welcoming a new Intentional Interim Rector as we continue the search for a new rector. Amidst all this change, we have a great deal for which to be thankful. Our friends and family. This beautiful community we call home. The chance to celebrate our faith together. And, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to impact the lives of the hungry, homeless and hopeless.

Hence our Stewardship theme: A Grateful Harvest. A time to reflect on those gifts in our own lives for which we’re grateful. A time to consider how we can best share these gifts in the service of others. A time to commit to actively give of our “bounty” to impact the lives of our church community, the greater community and the world.

Over the next few weeks, you will hear compelling stories of those who have committed to being stewards of the ministries here at Grace. You’ll learn of the journeys that have led them to stewardship and their personal reasons for supporting the important work we do. During this time, we invite you to reflect on these stories and consider your stewardship commitment. Commitment Weekend will be October 21st and 22nd.  During this weekend, we’ll offer our pledges during worship and commit to our work together in sharing A Grateful Harvest.

With gratitude for all God’s blessings,

Karl Bastian
For the Stewardship Ministry Team


Jubilee Ministry’s Community Lunch – Feeding Body and Soul

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Jubilee Ministries.

By Kate Wood
Community Lunch Coordinator

This is a simple, concrete ministry that fulfills the gospel call to feed and care for those in need. It also nourishes body and soul, feeding God’s people both in the giving and the receiving!

As with many things at Grace Church, the idea of serving a free meal to our neighbors in need came out of a discussion among parishioners. In 1991, Chris Black organized and served eighteen “guests of Grace” at the inaugural meal. This is believed to be the first such offering in Traverse City, and now several churches serve community meals throughout the week. Grace serves lunch every Friday from 12 noon to 1 pm. This food ministry is funded by generous donations of community and parish members.

Community Lunch is one of Grace’s three Jubilee Ministries – the Food Pantry and Jubilee House being the other two. There are 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 program started in 1983, but Grace did not become an official Jubilee Ministry Center until 2005.

Over the years, Community Lunch has had a legion of volunteer cooks, dishwashers, and servers. We now average about fifty people per meal. Those served include struggling neighbors, elderly people on fixed incomes, and the homeless. A nourishing meal served on the parish’s “china” gives a sense of welcome to those eating and a focus on hospitality for the volunteers that serve.

All the team members of this ministry say that they receive far more in blessings and joy serving and sharing than they ever thought would be possible when they first began. This is a ministry that has had generations of Grace families participate due to its episodic but constant presence.

Many of you may be aware that Community Lunch is also served at Grace every Sunday at 1 pm, hosted by a group of dedicated volunteers from area churches, who have been faithful in their service to this ministry.

It is our hope that Community Lunch continues as part of Grace Church’s long legacy of faith, allowing us to add life to the community we live in. If you are interested in learning more about this ministry and how you might help, contact me at or 231-941-5785.

Our times are in God’s hand

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

By James Deaton
Junior Warden

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15a).

Jr. Warden James Deaton

Jr. Warden James Deaton

Part of my job description as a managing editor is to create publishing schedules, making sure they’re realistic given the project’s scope. I’m also responsible for monitoring progress and checking in with writers and graphic designers to ensure we meet our deadlines. It works well, most of the time, but sometimes the schedule gets delayed for a variety of reasons.

Significant parts of a cookbook are accidentally skipped over during the editing phase. Receiving permission from copyright owners to reprint previously published material takes longer than anticipated. Illustrations for a children’s book are substandard and more work must be done. A writer becomes ill and dies, leaving a project unfinished. Through these experiences, to my chagrin, I’ve learned how to step back and recalibrate a schedule.

Too often my work mindset bleeds over into my spiritual life. I place markers into the future and set expectations for where I hope to be in my life of discipleship—in prayer, in church attendance, in tithing, in reading scripture, in ministry involvement. Goals are good, and the call to lead a holy life is a serious one, but sometimes I box myself in so tightly that the work of the Holy Spirit is easily snuffed out.

During this time of transition in our life together as a parish family, it’s easy to appreciate the orderliness of the processes and procedures that manage our life together. We follow Robert’s Rules of Order in our meetings. We create checklists when planning for events. We depend upon a set worship schedule. We need these things to keep us on task—they give us stability and structure. But how can we also value the way God moves in mysterious ways, leading us down a new path to the beat of a different drum?

Something is stirring at Grace. The Spirt of God is alive and well. Recently I felt this in a profound way—in our singing together, in honest words spoken and received, in God’s Word proclaimed with conviction and truth, in grace given through bread and wine at the altar rail, in the embrace of a dear friend, in a kind smile from a visitor, in hearty laughter around a table at coffee hour.

I have no doubt that God is here with us, even when things don’t happen according to our timetable. While we move forward in the days ahead, remember to care for and love one another as our God has loved us. Give each other the space needed for the grace of God to work. And listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, who may ask us to change our schedules to focus on more important work.

Anniversary Open House will focus on history and outreach

Posted by & filed under Events, Grace Notes, Ministry of the week.

Oct. 14-15 Poster

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:


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.”