History

Grace Episcopal Church was established in 1889 – before Woodlawn was incorporated – to minister to the textile, foundry, and blast furnace workers during Birmingham’s first industrial boom. In 1890, a wood-framed church was built on the current 1st Ave North plot, and in 1902, Grace was admitted into the Diocese of Alabama.  

By the 1970s, Woodlawn had transformed from a Caucasian middle-class neighborhood to a predominately African American and Hispanic community, many of which were low-income or homeless. Grace quickly responded to Woodlawn’s needs by opening the Community Kitchens, the Food Pantry, and the Clothes Closet.

Now in its 133rd Year, Grace continues to embrace and serve the Woodlawn community by bringing Christ’s love to each and every person through numerous outreach ministries. 

1889

Established as an Episcopal mission under the name Calvary Church

1890

The town of Woodlawn was incorporated

1890

Church building erected

The church purchased a lot & erected a wood frame church on the same corner where the current building stands.

1894

Name changed to Grace Church

1902

Grace Church was admitted into the Diocese of Alabama

The Rev. Daniel Forney Hoke was ordained as its first priest.

1904

The Rev. Francis Willis Ambler began his ministry as the second rector of Grace Woodlawn

1910

The Rev. John Jabez Lanier began his ministry as the third rector of Grace Woodlawn

1914

The Rev. Luther Williams began his ministry as the fourth rector of Grace Woodlawn

1918

The Rev. Carl Henckell began his ministry as the fifth rector of Grace

July 24, 1924

The cornerstone of the new church building was laid.

Rev. Henckell’s vision was that the church would be built without incurring significant debt.

Oct. 9, 1927

First service in the new church building held

(The building was built without incurring significant debt)

1936

The Rev. Wayne Buchanan began his ministry as the sixth rector of Grace

1937

The Rev. Peter H. Dennis began his ministry as the seventh rector of Grace.

1942

The Rev. Joseph Burton began his ministry as the eighth rector of Grace

1948

The Rev. Joseph P. Hollifield began his ministry as the ninth rector of Grace

1954

Three stained glass windows behind the altar were installed and dedicated.

The central light depicts Christ the King; on the left is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on the right is St. John the Evangelist.

1959

Cornerstone placed for the new parish hall

1960

The Rev. James Keith Marshall Lee served as Grace’s tenth rector until he retired.

1961

The Rev. John Townshend Harrison began his ministry as the eleventh rector of Grace.

1964

The Grace Church building was consecrated.

The Grace Church building was built and completed without any debt in 1927 and should have been consecrated by 1928. No one knows why 37 years passed before the consecration of the Grace Church building.

1967

Rev. Charles H. Murphy, Jr. began his ministry as the twelfth rector of Grace

1972

Rev. Charles Edward south began his ministry as the thirteenth rector of Grace

1974

The education building connecting the church to the parish was completed.

1977

Rev. Charles Settler Horn began his ministry as the fourteenth rector of Grace

1982

The Interfaith Hospitality House was established for families unable to afford housing.

1982

A soup kitchen opened at Grace and began serving lunch two days a week

1983

Community Kitchens of Birmingham incorporated under the leadership of Rev. Maurice Branscomb

1985

Grace was designated a Jubilee Center by the Diocese and National Church.

1988

Rev. Maurice Branscomb began his ministry as the fifteenth rector of Grace

1989

A store selling donated second-hand items was opened in Henckell Hall.

The store eventually moved to its current location at Five 55th Place and was named 55th Place.

1991

Father Branscomb helped to organize The Woodlawn Christian Center with other neighborhood churches

The center was founded to provide emergency food supplies and help people in need contact aid agencies.

1994

Grace By Day ministry began

Members of Grace began an interdenominational ministry called Grace By Day, which welcomes clients to the parish hall an hour or two before lunch is served.

1989

The 100th Anniversary of Grace was celebrated

The education building was renamed Henckell Hall

1995

A “new” used organ was acquired through the gifts of parishioners & installed

1996

Father Branscomb moved the font from the front of the nave to just inside the First Avenue doors

1997

The Rev. Timothy Scott Holder began his ministry as the sixteenth rector of Grace

1998

A Spanish speaking congregation called Iglesias Episcopal de la Gracia was formed within Grace

Grace was the first church in central Alabama to open and welcome the Hispanic communities for services.

1999

The house & lot beside the church was purchased.

The house was repaired and became the rectory.

1999

Grace Won Most Outstanding Parade Entry in Pride Parade

We were the first mainline congregation to participate as an official entry!

2000

The lot beside the church was turned into an ecoscape

It became a flower and community garden setting for the neighborhood.

2002

The Rev. Ruth Bradbury LaMonte began her ministry as the seventeenth rector of Grace

(interim)

2003

House & Land Purchased

The house & land at 107 58th Street North (across the street from Henckell Hall) was purchased by a parishioner and gifted to Grace. That land is now the additional parking lot.

2004

The Rev. James W. Williams began his ministry as the eighteenth rector of Grace

2004

Grace Food Pantry was established to help provide food to struggling families and those in need

2006

The Rev. Roberts Poinsett Johnson III began his ministry as the nineteenth rector of Grace

(interim)

2010

St. Benedict’s House was established in the house next to Branscomb Commons as a shelter for veterans without homes

2012

The Rev. Robyn E. Arnold began her ministry as the twentieth rector of Grace

2013

GraceWorks summer ministry began to provide a haven to youth ages 10 to 15

2013

Grace’s Emergency Warming Station begins offering overnight shelter in the Parish Hall during inclement weather

2016

Grace Place building was donated to GraceWorks Ministries

2022

The Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan is called as the Interim Rector, and Grace began its search for our next full-time rector.