Grace Church – Past, Present and Future

Grace Church – United Methodist was founded in 1891 as Grace Methodist Protestant Church on Lee Street in downtown Greensboro. In 1908 Grace relocated to the corner of Greene and Washington Streets, where it remained until 1924. On May 15, 1922, a lot was purchased at 438 W. Gaston Street (now called Friendly Avenue) for the location of the current Grace Church sanctuary.

Hobart Upjohn of New York, one of America’s most distinguished church architects, was commissioned to draw plans for the new Grace MP Church. His office was located in Grand Central Station. Following the completion of his plans, ground was broken in May 1925.  The cornerstone was laid on July 31, 1925. Construction, which was headed by Greensboro’s J.L. Crouse Construction Company, was completed in early 1926, and the first worship in the new building was held on May 2, 1926. From that time forward, Grace has been considered one of America’s most beautiful church buildings.

Because of its traditional clean lines, countless couples have exchanged wedding vows there, including the famous actor Charlton Heston who married his fiancée Lydia at Grace on May 17, 1944 while he was stationed in Greensboro during WWII. Until his death in 2007, Heston and his wife often visited Grace which he referred to as “an important place in my life”.

In addition, to being a beautiful place for weddings, Grace has always opened its doors to a wide variety of community ministries. In the late 1960’s Grace Church became a founding church for Greensboro Urban Ministries, which today has grown into a large ecumenical effort to assist a wide range of folks in need. From 1987-2005 Grace housed the Greensboro Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. And Grace currently serves as the home for a congregation of Montagnards (mountain people of Vietnam) who worship at Grace each Sunday afternoon. In 2005, with the construction of a new downtown baseball park for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Grace began a ministry called “Parking with a Purpose”. Each baseball season Grace Church members collect proceeds from parking cars and 100% of this money goes to support local ministries.