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. 


    Established as an Episcopal mission under the name Calvary Church


    The town of Woodlawn was incorporated


    Church building erected

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


    Name changed to Grace Church


    Grace Church was admitted into the Diocese of Alabama

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


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


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


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


    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)


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


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


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


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


    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.


    Cornerstone placed for the new parish hall


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


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


    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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    The 100th Anniversary of Grace was celebrated

    The education building was renamed Henckell Hall


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


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


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


    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.


    The house & lot beside the church was purchased.

    The house was repaired and became the rectory.


    Grace Won Most Outstanding Parade Entry in Pride Parade

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


    The lot beside the church was turned into an ecoscape

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


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



    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.


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


    Grace Place building was donated to GraceWorks Ministries


    The Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan is called as the Interim Rector

    March 12th, 2023

    The Rev. José R. Fernández, Ph.D. begins his ministry as the twenty-first rector of Grace