Let's begin our tour of this historic, formerly Methodist church, in the FRONT HALL/NARTHEX. Have a look at the pictures on the wall. They represent our history and are unique with a display of Ministers who served both the Methodist Church and Grace United from as far back as 1854 with only one exception.
A picture is available of the former Methodist Meeting House. It was sold and moved from Gage and Gate Streets when the Methodists moved to Victoria Street and is now restored as a beautiful residence at Gate and Prideaux Streets.
THE LARRY TURNER GALLERY
If you are able, we invite you to take the stairs to your left TO THE GALLERY / BALCONY. Originally, this was a wooden spiral staircase. But within the last 10 years it was totally reconstructed by a member of the congregation to the safe structure you see today. As you walk the stairs you will note (1) a sign from early 1900's; (2) a sign from Virgil United Church, our second point charge demolished in the 1950's that stood beside the graveyard at the crossroads in Virgil; and (3) the original GRACE UNITED CHURCH sign circa 1925, that we believe hung below another sign declaring the original sign of THE METHODIST CHURCH OF NIAGARA (C.1870)
As you approach the top landing note the original Balcony Pews. The Sound Desk on your right has pillars original to the organ that appears in the choir picture in the Narthex c. 1897. The Hymn Board behind the desk is original to GRACE. The neat wooden box on the desk ledge holds the numbers to the hymns. This box was just recently recovered.
This GRACE BALCONY/ GALLERY formerly used to seat a large congregation. The floor was a step-down in front for the pews allowing another row of pews to fit behind, seating probably as many as 50 people even into the 1980's at Easter and Christmas.
During the Second World War, the soldiers stationed in Niagara out on the Common and at Fort George would fill up the Balcony and enjoy the Sunday and Youth Services.
As you look toward the front of the Sanctuary you will note the tall candlestick holders that can be seen beside the Communion Table. A former member of this congregation crafted these as well as the cross that you see before you and the simply designed offering plates. The more elaborately carved plates came to us from Virgil United. When the Methodists first moved into this building they hauled their organ up to the GALLERY by ropes and the music flowed from here.
With a lower membership, the GALLERY fell into disuse. We have now reclaimed this space with steel filing cabinets for GRACE Archival material, books for Research and Meditation, a library table and chairs for Committee Meetings ... and overall, just a pleasant place to relax and have a quiet moment.
Let's return to the main floor of the SANCTUARY.
Entering the SANCTUARY by the left blue door, we look to the right to see the World War 2 Memorials on the back wall. Hard to miss is the gigantic UNION JACK that has been loaned to us by congregational member, Babs Pritty. Purchased by her husband, John, in England following W.W.ll, it was thought to have been displayed as a marker for a battleship during the War.
As you move down the aisle, note on the left wall the lovely watercolour pen and ink sketch of GRACE UNITED aptly entitled 'Sunday Morning'. This, too, was produced by Babs Pritty.
THE LEFT STAINED GLASS WINDOW JESUS KNOCKING AT THE DOOR OF OUR HEARTS
This beautiful window was presented by the Peake family who were summer visitors to Niagara for more than forty years. Mr. Peake built the first cottage in Chatauqua on the banks of Two Mile Creek. The Window was installed in 1926.
ORGAN AND CARILLON HISTORY
Music from the Meeting House was only provided by a MELODEON. This instrument probably arrived with the congregation in 1875, but, soon after, the FIRST REED ORGAN was bought being installed in its place, hauled up by ropes, to the Balcony. By 1890 it migrated to the front of the Sanctuary and by 1897 A SMALL PIPE ORGAN had been installed. In 1957, the FRANKLIN LEGGE PIPE ORGAN we have now, was purchased for $1,200.00 from St. Monica's Anglican Church, Toronto.
At first the CARILLON used a record player housed in the cloak room at the back of the Church. In the 1970's a new CARILLON with tapes was dedicated and placed in the back of the organ. In 2009, there was a further update and the Carillon you hear now was purchased with 'state of the art' instrumentation.
AT THE CHANCEL OR PLATFORM
By looking up beyond the Balcony, you will see our magnificent stained-glass windows. To the left, the symbol depicting the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This is a reminder that Jesus is the beginning and the end of our faith foundation. To the right, the symbol of a communion chalice reminding us of the sacrament that expresses God's Grace given freely to each one of us through the lord's Supper.
The Centre Window depicts the Angel at the Empty tomb with the three women. Being in the centre of the wall reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus is at the centre of our faith.
RIGHT STAINED GLASS WINDOW
This window is called "The Good Shepherd". This window tells us the story of Jesus, in John 10, where Jesus says, "I am the Good Shepherd" and is a memorial to the young men in our Church who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-1918.. It was also dedicated to the memory of the saintly members of the early Methodist church. Further along the right wall you will see a picture of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane presented to GRACE as a memorial.
Welcome to our Church Hall. It was an addition to the Methodist Church begun in 1896. Aside from Sunday School, this is our gathering place; for after church chat and coffee, for meals and other social activities. Note our modern kitchen. Washrooms are down the hallway to your right.
You are welcome to proceed up the stairs to view a wonderful stained-glass window overlooking the landing. This was a window first installed at VIRGIL UNITED. When that church closed in 1965 and joined with GRACE, the window was carefully kept and installed in 1980 when the new addition for the offices of the minister and secretary were constructed.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY AT GRACE
PLEASE COME AGAIN!