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Grace Episcopal Church celebrates 175 years

Grace Episcopal Church in Baldwinsville was incorporated on July 27, 1835 following two years of people gathering together in homes and meeting halls to worship.

The first church building was completed in 1860 on Elizabeth Street. A New York State Historical marker reminds us that in 1886 the church was the first church to be lit by electricity. That was made possible by running a line from the electrified Morris Machine Works to the church. The factory was located on Genesee Street (now the Kinney Drugs plaza). The Morris family also donated all of the church's pipe organs. That church building served its members for 100 years until it was badly damaged by an arson's action in 1960. The church's parish hall (the former Knights of Columbus Hall) still exists on the site.

The church called its first full time rector, William Beauchamp, in 1865. The Reverend Beauchamp was also a well-known local historian for whom the Beauchamp Historical Society is named. There have been a total of 15 rectors serving Grace Church and many others who have served at its altar.

The current Grace Church edifice was dedicated in 1962 with additions made to it including: the Parish Center (1974), the Memorial Garden (1985), and the Welcoming area, meeting rooms, nursery and elevator (2002). Several artifacts from the original church building are incorporated into the current building including: the bell, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font, altar and several accessories for the altar.

Although July 27 is the actual anniversary day, Grace Members and friends will gather Sunday Nov. 21 for a special day of activities to celebrate its 175th anniversary. November is a significant month for Grace since both edifices were dedicated in that month, and the first church edifice burned in that month as well.

The day will begin with the usual 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services being combined into one service at 9:15 a.m., which will be celebrated by the Rev. Dr. James Corl using a Book of Common Prayer liturgy that would have been used in 1835, music from that same period of time, and a dedication of new silver chalices, a ciborium and a paten. There will then be an intergenerational event of making advent wreaths followed by a dinner and celebratory cake.

Bruce Haney is a member of Grace Episcopal Church.

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