Grace Church has been around for about 164 years. It has seen a lot of changes through those years. Its Steeple has changed three times thanks to being hit by lightning twice. It has had many Pastors and Members over those many years. Some of them will be featured within these pages,starting with the 100th birthday celebration. Harold Bragg may have been one of the few “hundred year old” church members in the nation who volunteered thousands of hours even into his nineties. He earned his own page on this church website! Harold was a special guy. Also on his page are many photos of church members followed by obituaries of many of our past loyal church members of Grace United Methodist Church of Bangor.
In the Beginning of Grace Church This is how it looked.
History of Grace United Methodist Church
1846 — Grace organized out of Summer Street Mission Society.
1854 — Land at corner of Union and Clinton streets purchased for $1,100.
1855 — Union Street Methodist Episcopal Church completed at cost of $15,000.
1896 — Steeple got shorter after lightning strikes and finally a Dome replaced a steeple damaged by storm and high winds.
1939 — Church renamed Grace Methodist Church after merger of three Methodist groups.
1948 — Permastone facade placed on outside of wooden building.
1954 — 100th anniversary of church celebrated.
1967 — Bangor’s first Operation Head Start school meets in church basement.
1968 — Church renamed Grace United Methodist Church after merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist denominations.
1970 — Extensive renovations to sanctuary completed.
1989 — Church becomes handicapped-accessible with installation of elevator.
1996 — Grace designated first church in Maine in Shalom Zone program, which emphasized outreach to the surrounding neighborhood.
2004 — Church celebrates 150th anniversary, opens thrift shop.
2008 — capital improvements made to church building.
The church had helped to feed the hungry of Bangor with a free Saturday meal and by handing out about 4,000 pounds of food monthly to around 650 people.
From its very beginning, it’s been a church that has been committed to being downtown and in ministry to the community. When it closed its doors on June 30, 2019, the financial need, spiritual need, recovery kinds of ministry needs of the community still remain but the church has run out of funds and was not able to continue. It’s just a really challenged neighborhood, and the church has always been committed to being a part of the neighborhood so we are hoping other churches will step in. Grace had been running a busy thrift store and the food distribution program to the poor.
2019 Church closed down on June 30th due to a dwindling membership and financial issues with expensive building upkeep problems. Back in 1910, things were a lot different. At Grace Church, Bangor, Me., the pastor, the Rev. G. A. Martin, on a recent Sunday baptized twenty-seven, received twenty on probation, twenty into full membership, and administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to 148. In those days, the 50 churches of Bangor had no trouble filling the pews.
The New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, not the congregation, is the owner of the church building. That body will decide whether to sell the structure or put in to other use. Note: Thomas School of Dance purchased the bldg and Bangor Ballet will share space. Vacant for only 5-6 mos.
It will be up to individual members to decide where to continue worship. Church records and memberships are transferred to First UMC in Bangor on Essex Street. This is a nice church Sun Service at 10:30. There are several other area churches nearby in Brewer, Orono, Hampden, Orrington, Winterport, Dixmont and more choices and different service start times.
Do any of you remember when Grace Church sponsored a Boy Scout group? I found an Appalachian Trail article about troop 301 that had been chartered by Grace Church. Seems the boys did a 60 mile trip on the trail that involved Mt Kahtadin. They averaged 10 miles a day for 6 straight days and made it into Boy’s Life Magazine. The article was in May 1988. Can be found online at least in part.