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History

Grace Episcopal Church traces its history to December 28, 1952, when several families  from what was then Ecorse Township met for their first service under the leadership of The Rev. Ralph W. Parks, Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wyandotte.  As a missionary endeavor of St. Stephen’s, the infant congregation, then called Grace Episcopal Chapel, held weekly services in the McCann School on Eureka Road, with Mr. Samuel Richards serving as lay reader.

Membership grew rapidly and soon rose to one hundred members through word of mouth, post cards, and liberal newspaper promotion.  In December 1953, the congregation began meeting in the recently completed and much larger facility of Hunter School on Reeck Road, near our present facility.  In the spring of the following year, two and one-half acres of land were purchased on Reeck Road for the eventual construction of a church building.

The Rev. David R. King was called as the first Vicar of the mission in July 1954.  Under Fr. King’s leadership, a vicarage was purchased in 1957, and the ground was broken for the new church in September 1958, the same year that Southgate was incorporated as a city.  The church building was completed a year later and was dedicated by Bishop Richard S. Emrich on November 20, 1959.

The name of the mission was officially changed to Grace Episcopal Church in 1960.   With the mission assuming an identity of its own, St. Stephen’s Church gradually relinquished its sponsorship of the mission, and continued financial support was assumed by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

The Rev. David King left Grace Church in the summer of 1960 to continue further theological studies at the General Theological Seminary in New York City.  The mission experienced steady growth during the next several years, during which time the Rev. James L. Demas, the Rev. Richard E. Shinn, and the Rev. Charles Sacquety consecutively served as vicars of the mission.  At one time, the mission held three regular Sunday morning services, and over one hundred children were involved in the Sunday School program, and it seemed the classrooms would burst at the seams.  Plans for an addition to the church and the attainment of parish status began to be envisioned.

The years of the 1970’s witnessed a leveling of the growth phase of the mission, and plans for a building addition and the attainment of parish status were put off into the future.  During these years, the Rev. Carl F. Moyer provided the leadership for the mission until his retirement in 1977.  The Rev. Thomas L Downs was called as Vicar in January 1978.  During his three years with the mission, Grace Church became one of the first churches of the Diocese to make a commitment to the Venture in Missions (VIM) program.  Also, specific plans for a building addition began to be formulated.

The Rev. David A. Brower began serving in the autumn of 1982.  Under his leadership, the congregation had been revitalized and enlarged with new programs developed specifically for youth and adult education, and an increasing involvement of parishioners in the leadership of the mission.  The long awaited building addition was completed in 1984, and at the annual convention of the Diocese of Michigan in 1988 in Lansing, Grace Church was admitted to parish status.

                               …to be continued