The People Say Amen, 1953-1988

        The 1950's and 1960's saw the development of a full program of parish life: Sunday School, choirs, three worship services, a day school, cemetery improvements, outreach, Episcopal Church Women, and book shop.

        According to Billie Miller, a proposal for an Episcopal day school was presented to the vestry in December 1954 by some of the women of the church, who saw the growth potential as York County attracted young families. The proposal was accepted, and the day school opened in February 1955, with 25 students. Mit Tuovila was the first chairman of the day school, which shared classroom space with the Sunday School in the small parish house. Through the 1970's, even after York County developed a public kindergarten program, the Grace day school continued a large enrollment — as many as 75 children and four full-time teachers.

        Activities in the little church addition reached a critical point by the late 1950's, and it was decided to build a new, large parish house. The vestry was able to acquire the lot for the new structure in an agreement with the National Park Service whereby the Park Service was given a scenic easement concerning the appearance of the original church building and grounds. The new parish hall was dedicated in July, 1960.

        Since the Sunday School and day school now had a new home in the new building, in 1968 the St. Margaret's Circle of the ECW founded a book store in the old church addition. The book store's stated purpose is to provide religious reading material to the parish and community, along with a selection of appropriate gifts and cards. The first governing board was headed by Louise Gallagher. The all-volunteer operation continues to donate profits to outreach.

       During the 1970's, the parish undertook a general refurbishing of the church properties, which included expanding seating and refinishing the floors in the church, stabilizing the bank along Read Street with a retaining wall, formulating an organized plan for the cemetery, acquiring a new rectory, and refininshing the outer walls of the church.

        In 1975, in preparation for the nation's bicentennial, the original marl of the church walls was exposed, and then re-stuccoed. Before 1848, the irregular marl blocks of the wall were probably visible. Since the porous material would tend to hold moisture, making the church feel damp, stucco was applied on the outside when the church was rebuilt. The finish was lined to give the appearance of large blocks.

        In 1985, members of the community banded together with Grace Church youth to paint the church's retaining wall (on Read Street), which had been repeatedly vandalized. Sherry Hodges, an art teacher at Tabb high School, tasked her students to come up with a design for a mural. Bonnie Gibson submitted the chosen design which was then painted with the help of many volunteers.

TimeLine of Significant Events

  • 1954 - From annual report: 65 families, 86 communicants, revenue of $4937.55. Two Sunday services are being held
  • 1955 - Grace Day School opens with 25 students
  • 1960 - New parish house dedicated. Contract price of the building was $86,000
  • 1963 - From annual report: 212 communicants, 70 Sunday School students, revenue of $18,833.96, property valued at $546,000
  • 1967 - Jack Dozier, Jr. cemetery chair, led efforts to locate original churchyard wall. Later improvements include additional burial sites and landscaping
  • 1972 - From annual report: 371 communicatns, 118 Sunday School students
  • 1973 - Third Sunday service at 9:15 am. Land purchased for Chirst the King mission in Tabb
  • 1974 - House on Lafayette Road purchased as new rectory
  • 1986 - From annual report: 262 families, 298 communicants, revenue of $110,589, property valued at more than $1 million
  • 1988 - Grace Church commissions a custom organ from J.W. Walker & Sons, England
Last Published: March 5, 2010 10:14 AM
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