Church History

History of Grace UMC

Grace United Methodist Church has its origins in the hearts of the people of First United Methodist Church, Lancaster.  In 1897, they organized "protracted meetings" (revival services) for the benefit of the workers at the newly operational Lancaster Cotton Mills, much in the spirit of John Wesley, the found of Methodistism.  At the time, the "mill hill" section of Lancaster was a new community made up of immigrants from the surrounding countryside.  No doubt, the members of the First Methodist Church felt that they were providing a missional ministry at their front door - literally.  Their desire for ministry quickly took root.  In August of 1898, a Methodist "society" was formed at the Lancaster Cotton Mills.  By definition, a society was a group of at least 15 persons who concluded to meet together as Methodists.  At its inception, Grace was known as the "City Mission" and was pastored by the ministers of the Lancaster Circuit.  It is not known where the first meeting place was.  However, tradition has it that the church met in a three-room house at the "coal chutes" - located directly in front of the old church and down the hill toward the mill itself.

 

At the turn of the century, the Lancaster Cotton Mills was a fast-growing corporation with a great deal of collateral growth in the community.  New streets were cut, shops were opened, houses were built and schools were being planned.  To coincide with this growth, the Methodist Society decided to stake its claim in the community.  On April 15, 1901, the Lancaster Cotton Mills sold a parcel of land to the Methodist Episcopal Church - South, for the purpose of erecting a house of worship.  During the first half of the twentieth century, the progress of the mill village was mirrored in the growth of Grace Church.  Through the 1930's and 1940's there was an exponential rise in the membership of Grace.  A new Sunday School wing was added in 1939. 

 

The latter half of the century was characterized by the migration of many of our members to the suburban areas of Lancaster.  This resulted in a stagnation of the growth which had so dominated the early years of Grace.  In 1974, a movement was begun to consider relocating the congregation to a site which would allow expansion, provide adequate parking, and be more central to the membership of the church.

 

In 1996, after many years of praying, planning and work, Grace relocated to its present location at the corner of Airport Road and Country Club Drive on the south side of Lancaster.  Our church enjoyed great growth in the years immediately following our relocation.  We currently need an addition to our combined worship space and Sunday school building.  Once that is completed, as our membership continues to grow, we are looking forward to building a permanent sanctuary in the next few years.  Through good times and bad, waxing and waning time, birth and death, Grace has been blessed by committed members who have given fully of themselves to enable our church to be a light to its community and the world at large.  No matter what the future holds for us, we are fully confident that God's hand will guide us to give our best to Him and those around us.