Grace Presbyterian Church Celebrates 100th Anniversary...Kinda
Grace Presbyterian Church was ready to spend a year-long celebration of their one hundred year anniversary. Committees were formed; the historians were researching their history; photographs were being enhanced; the down payment for the banquet hall was paid.
The first of the ten decades was celebrated in January. The hymns were chosen from those written in the 1920’s. Pulpit speakers, dressed in high Victorian costumes, played the parts of early parishioners. A museum was assembled in the church parlor.
February brought the museum into the 30’s. Kate Smith, singing “God Bless America,” echoed throughout the sanctuary. Speakers, dressed as “Oakies,” thanked the congregation for their help in “these terrible times.”
March would have been the decade of World War II, honoring those in the congregation who lost their lives in the conflict. And then…COVID-19.
Like all churches in Ohio, Grace closed its doors. All the ten months of activities planned for the grand finale, scheduled for October 4th, were cancelled.
The question was now much more critical than “Will we get our deposit back?” Like the other thirty small churches in Lakewood, the questions were: can a small church survive in times of pandemic? How will the congregation hold together when there is no worship? How can the church minister to those who are quarantined? How does the church prepare for a reopening? Can the church meet its bills?
In the Presbyterian Church the elders, the chosen leaders of the church body, already had been assigned parishioners who were under their wings. Phone calls, cards, e-mails, encouraging notes: all were sent to the members of the Grace community. But more than that, the members returned the support. They, too, called, texted, e-mailed, sent food, did shopping for the quarantined. If anything good can be said of the pandemic, it is that, instead of the congregation growing away from the church, they grew closer. People who knew some by names only, now became close friends. There was a re-awareness awareness that the Church is the people.
Now, at last, Grace has re-opened for worship, just in time to celebrate the Centennial. Even though the banquet has been postponed, the museum closed and strict rules of sanitation are in place, there will be a celebration. The Grace Family Players will be presenting “The Decades Speak,” an original play on October 4th, during the church service.
All are invited to attend. Masks are required and social distancing is in place. The October 4th service begins at 10:00 AM. Grace Church is located at 1659 Rosewood Avenue, on the corner of Hilliard and Madison.
Nancy Sander is a nationally known puppeteer and Emmy Award recipient for "Hickory Hideout."
Nationally known puppeteer; Emmy Award recipient for ":Hickory Hideout"