MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 14, 2013

Grace Episcopal a leader in service

Church has run aid programs for decades

By Rebecca Walkup
Nonprofit Buzz

— Grace Episcopal Church, founded on Feb. 23, 1893, is planning a 120th anniversary celebration on Sept. 20. The evening banquet, titled “A Graceful Affair,” will be a dressy casual event to celebrate the past and look forward to new opportunities. A three-course meal is planned with music, dancing, and a silent auction. The congregation invites the community to take part in the festivities and tour the new renovations to one of the oldest buildings in Muskogee.

The church has long been a leader in service to the community as the founder of MONARCH Inc., a substance abuse treatment facility, assisting with the startup of the Gospel Rescue Mission, and starting and running a GED program for 29 years.

For the past 20 years, Grace Episcopal has operated a Meals on Wheels program. Even during the renovation of the past two years, Meals on Wheels continued, using the kitchens of other churches. The program will return to the church’s new kitchen at the end of July.

Another meal program, Servings of Grace, suspended operations during the renovation, but it will resume later this summer, serving lunch at 11 a.m. the third Saturday of each month. The two programs typically serve 400 people each month.

Another area where Grace Episcopal Church is a leader in the community is in its collaborations with other churches and organizations. The church supports the Muskogee Cooperative Ministries food pantry and works closely with First United Methodist Church to provide direct assistance to families.

A number of local residents  who don’t attend the church also volunteer regularly with Meals on Wheels and Servings of Grace.

In turn, members of the church volunteer with many other community organizations. Nineteen of the church’s 200 members were present at this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Banquet representing the church and other nonprofits.

The church also participates regularly in community events including the River Rumba, Soul Food Cook-Off and Christmas parade. A college-level theology course at the church draws students from many denominations across the community.

This social and community engagement is a hallmark of the Episcopal Church, whose  members strive to live out their faith by serving the broader community.

New programs and projects are also being planned at Grace.

The new music minister, Mark Merrill, is launching a children’s music instruction program this fall with fun music and an opportunity to learn from a classically trained musician.

Phase 2 of the facility improvement project will be the development of a rain garden in the parking area at Sixth Street and Broadway. The garden will be watered with runoff from the surrounding parking areas and church building.

Plans are also being made to convert the middle section of the parking lot into a community basketball court.

For more information about Grace Episcopal Church’s programs and coming anniversary celebration, call the Rev. Bob Wickizer at (918) 687-5416 or send email to bob@gracemuskogee.org.

To recommend an organization or program for a column, reach Rebecca Walkup at (918) 683-4600 or rwalkup@nbn-nrc.org.