Grace Church in Newark (Episcopal), is an active and historic Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Newark. It is located on Newark, New Jersey's Broad Street where it has stood since 1837. Grace, a traditional church that worships in the Catholic tradition, is home to a very lively and friendly congregation engaged in urban ministry, fellowship and art. Grace is especially notable for its architecture, music, and as the birthplace of the tune "America the Beautiful."
Grace Church was founded on Ascension Day in 1837 at the behest of Bishop George Washington Doane. As part of what is today called the Oxford Movement, Grace's founders emphasized the sacramental worship and succession of bishops of the Episcopal Church as their direct link to Christ, the Apostolic community and its Eucharistic worship –a sister to the Roman Catholic Church. A daughter parish of Trinity Church, Bishop Doane explicitly founded the church in the growing city to be the standard bearer for Anglo-Catholicism in the diocese. To this day, Grace's remains dedicated to offering its timeless worship to the city and its people.
The church building, designed by Richard Upjohn, who was also the architect of Trinity Church, New York, was consecrated on October 5, 1848. It is widely esteemed as an outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture in the United States. The church was built on the site of the old Essex County Courthouse and Jail which burnt down on August 15, 1835. The massive, single bell in the tower which is rung by hand every Sunday, was installed before the consecration in 1848. Paid for by an Episcopalian textile manufacture in Newark, the bell has been rung for many solemn occasions, including to support the Federal soldiers defending Fort Sumter in 1861.
The tune for "America the Beautiful," called "Materna," was written here by the parish organist Samuel A. Ward in 1882.
Grace remains widely known for its high church, sacramental liturgy, or order of service, at the center of which, in the tradition of the Church as handed down from the Apostles, is the Eucharist. The Eucharist, otherwise known as Holy Communion or the Mass, is Grace's form of weekly worship on Sundays. Grace teaches the Catholic faith, holding that Christians gain access to the Mystical Body of Christ through the sacramental worship of the community and are aided by the sequential liturgy, incense, and Eucharistic sacrifice to an experience of heaven. Incense, lights, and ceremonial vestments are used, which render the liturgy intelligible to all the senses, and the contemporary-language rite from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (Rite II) is used. Much of the congregation actively participates in the service.
The diverse congregation includes people from Africa and the Caribbean as well as Europeans, Caucasian Americans, and African Americans. Its members are young and old, married and single, gay and straight. The parish is committed to Catholic faith and practice in The Episcopal Church, but is receptive to new insights, including the ordination of women and affirmation of same-sex relationship.
The Rev. Dr. J. Brent Bates became the parish's seventeenth rector in March 2011.
Music plays an important role in worship, and Grace has always maintained a strong choral tradition in its adult and children's choir. Both choirs perform mass settings throughout the year, and weekly sing the Gregorian Chant mass propers from the early, medieval and renaissance tradition. Grace holds choir concerts and organ recitals on the 48-stop tracker instrument built by Casavant Frères in 1990. The Grace Church Music Society, organized in 2008, each year sponsors a series of recitals and concerts. Tyrone Whiting, an award-winning English organist and conductor and graduate of the Royal College of Music in London, England, is the current Director of Music. He was preceded by Jim Hopkins, Joe Arndt, and James McGregor, who held the position for forty-eight years.
Masses are offered on Sundays at 8:00am and 10:30am (High Mass) with Sunday School, and on many weekdays at 12:10pm. Additional family and youth activities are held weekly and forms of worship like Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament are held during Lent.
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