, Muskogee, OK

September 21, 2013

Church celebrates restoration

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Grace Episcopal Church will celebrate its restoration and history today with  A Graceful Affair.

The gala, which begins at 4 p.m., will feature tours of the church and parish buildings, wine tasting, a dinner, concert and dancing under the stars, said event organizer Jennifer Sparks. A $15 donation is requested.

“We’ll have a formal, sit-down dinner with a string quartet and linen table cloths,” Sparks said. Church members will provide the different courses, she said. The dessert will be an “over the top” multi-layered cake from Heirloom Catering, she said.

A choir and organ concert will be at 7:30.

“At 8:30 p.m., we’ll move to the courtyard for dancing under the stars,” Sparks said. “Our DJ has music from the 1940s to today.”

Grace is celebrating completion of a $1.5 million building restoration as well as its 120th anniversary, said the Rev. Bob Wickizer, Grace pastor. The restoration included expanding the parish hall and completely redoing its interior, as well as remodeling the courtyard and adding shingles to church buildings. Many of the gala’s events will be held in the parish hall.

“We’re just excited about the renovation. It’s beautiful,” Sparks said. “We want everyone to look and see what we have done. We have our parish hall back”

Sparks said the old parish hall used to be elegant, but had begun to deteriorate.

“The roof began to leak,” she said. “We had to completely gut it. We had to pay to have mold removed. Now, it’s just bright and clean.”

During the parish hall’s restoration, the church had to suspend some of its ministries, such as its Servings of Grace meals, as well as church and community gatherings. Lunches for the church’s meals on wheels ministry had to be prepared at a nearby church during the renovation.

Wickizer said completion of the parish hall is a “huge relief.”

“Now we can begin to focus on things we’re supposed to be doing,” Wickizer said. “Grace has always been a leader in the community.”

The shingles on the parish hall and sanctuary were part of the building’s original look, he said. He said a picture from 1903 shows the church covered with dark cedar shingles.

Work still needs to be done on the courtyard between the sanctuary and parish hall.

A second phase will include updating the education building and building a covered walkway between the sanctuary and parish hall.

Wickizer said congregation members stepped forward to fund the church’s renovation.

“We did all this construction, a $1.5 million remodeling, and we did it all through contributions,” he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: A Graceful Affair.

WHEN: Beginning 4 p.m. today.

WHERE: Grace Episcopal Church, 218 N. Sixth St.


• Church and parish tours, 4 to 6 p.m.

• Wine tasting in the parlor, 5:30 p.m.

• Dinner, 6:30 p.m.

• Organ and choir concert, 7:30 p.m..

• Dancing Under the Stars, 8:30 p.m.

COST: Requested $15 donation.