Vacation Bible School registration now open

Vacation Bible School 6/17-21/18

VBS Registration OPENING!
Spring is near and summer is right behind it! VBS registration for volunteers, child and adult participants, and teachers will open on March 1 and close June 3. A donation of $10 per person/ $35 per family of 4+ is requested. We are inviting all members of the church and the community to enjoy bible school with us from June 17-21 in the evenings 5:45-7:45pm with dinner provided each night.  Contact Kelly Hudson with any questions.  Click here to register.

High School Mission Trip June 23-29

The high school students will be traveling to the Youngstown, Ohio area June 23-29.  Students and leaders will be hosted by Canfield Presbyterian Church and working with their mission partners serving disabled young adults, those with food insecurity and also working to improve area homes.

You can register using the form below.  Fill it out and return it to the Church Office by March 1.

High School Mission Trip Registration form

Middle School Mission Trip July 21-27

The middle school students will be traveling to and volunteering in Baltimore, MD, July 21-27.  Our mission partner there is The Center  and days will be spent being the hands and feet of Jesus to the Baltimore community.

You can register using the form below.  Fill it out and return it to the Church Office by March 1.  

Middle School Mission Trip Registration form

Adult Ed Series:  Family Matters!

Adult Ed Series:  Family Matters!

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul offers these words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7) What might Paul have to say to those dealing with the anxieties of mental illness, addiction or gun violence? The Adult Education Team seeks to provide a safe environment for families and individuals to learn about these issues and their impact on all of us.  Join us to learn more!


April 8: Morning Session: Understanding Mental Health: Normal Life Stressors vs Mental Health Issues

What is mental health? Is it simply the absence of a mental disorder, or is there more to our mental well-being? Ray Rife, LCSW will lay the groundwork for our “Family Matters” mini-series by exploring these and other questions. Ray has worked in all phases of mental health service delivery during his career in front-line and administrative roles, including time at Ground Zero following 9/11 and with service members and their families around deployments and redeployment cycles.


***Also on April 8, SPECIAL EVENING OFFERING at 6:00 pm: “Dying in Vein:”***

This documentary offers a deeply personal exploration of opiate and heroin addiction that drops you directly into the lives of an addict in recovery, a couple trying to get clean, a family grieving the loss of their son, and an Emergency Room Physician trying to save one patient at time. Through these stories, the contemporary belief of 'living life pain free' is explored, as well as the shame and blame that exists around addiction. The film looks at the impact of socioeconomic class on our broken treatment system, and how a group of emergency care physicians are working to save their patients. The Adult Education and Student Ministries Team co-sponsor this intergenerational event for all who are interested, including our high school students and their parents. Discussion will be facilitated by the staff of Renew Family Services.


April 15: Understanding Addiction

Is addiction a question of willpower or a brain disorder? What do we mean when we call addiction a disease?  Dr. Carl Yusavitz, Director of Pastoral Service for the Penn Foundation, returns to address these and other questions concerning substance addiction. Myths around alcohol and drug use; dopamine’s effect on the brain, and the possibility and means to recovery will all be covered.  


April 22: Addiction and Its Impact on the Family

My family? Your family? Every family can claim a role in the ongoing story of addiction. And each family member plays a part. Perhaps yours is that of “family scapegoat,” or even “chief enabler.” What is enabling and why do we do it? How can we change our behavior in order to facilitate recovery? Hope Stein, LSW, Certified Addictions Counselor and founder of Renew Family Services will help us to learn more about family recovery in this informative session.


April 29: Next Steps

Where do we go from here? Knowing what we now know, what can we do? In this session, Michael Bernert of the Livengrin Foundation will guide us through the process of empowering a loved one to seek recovery, including intervention; what effective recovery looks like; health coverage for treatment; support networks and other resources.


May 6: Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence

Our community, like many across the nation, is impacted by gun violence. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has produced a documentary about gun violence entitled Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence. We will view Part I of this film in this session. Trigger examines the ripple effect one shooting has on a survivor, a family, a community and a society. It is told from the perspectives of those who have been directly impacted and those who are called daily to respond to this ongoing tragedy. Grace Presbyterian Church is committed to listening to the voices of those who experience the devastation of gun violence, and Trigger provides a starting point for engaging in this critically important conversation.


May 13: “Heeding God’s Call”

Handguns reach streets and neighborhoods through a highly developed illegal trade – gun trafficking. These are the guns used to threaten, wound, maim and kill. The linchpins of gun trafficking are criminal entrepreneurs, traffickers, the straw buyers who stand in for them to make their bulk purchases and gun dealers who look the other way and enjoy the profits. As people of faith, what can we do to address this crisis? Bob Fles of “Heeding God’s Call,” a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence, will be with us to discuss the many ways in which this organization partners with faith communities in working to stem gun violence.


May 20: Where Do We Go From Here?

Part 2 of Trigger will be shown, followed by guided discussion and debrief concerning gun violence prevention efforts and our call to participate in congregational initiatives going forward.  

Past Events

Past Events in 2018

  • Annual Meeting & Talent Show 1/28/18 at 11:30am Download the 2017 Annual Report
  • Adult Education: Neighbors Series Sunday mornings at 9:30am from 1/7-2/11/18
  • Women's Retreat 2/2-4/2018
  • Adult Education: Telling Our Faith Stories Series Sunday mornings at 9:30am from 2/18-3/25/18
  • Lentflix Friday evenings at 5:45pm February 16 - March 23 2018
  • Joint Bible Study Wednesday evenings, February 21-March 28, at 7 pm, at Cedar Park Presbyterian Church, 7740 Limekiln Pike, Philadelphia (about 10 minutes from Grace). 
  • Men's Retreat march 9-11, 2018


Your Adult Education Team brings something new to the Lenten table this year with a Friday night film series showcasing themes of challenge, transformation and redemption. Join us at 5:45 pm for pizza followed by “flicks.” Please note: while films chosen are rated G - PG-13, most are best suited for adult audiences.  Parental discretion is advised.  Click here for a schedule of the film series.


Your Adult Education Team brings something new to the Lenten table this year with a Friday
night film series showcasing themes of challenge, transformation and redemption. Join us at
5:45 pm for pizza followed by “flicks.” Please note: while films chosen are rated G - PG-13, most
are suitable for adult audiences. Parental discretion is advised.

Friday, February 16 - The Butler (PG13) This film tells the story of a White House butler who
served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes
that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and
beyond, and how those changes affected this man's life and family.

Friday, February 23 – The Spitfire Grill (PG13) With the help of her former warden, ex-con
Percy Talbott moves to Gilead, Maine to make a fresh start. She gets a job waiting tables at the
Spitfire Grill and rents a room above it. Friendliness is not a word used to describe Gilead and
the locals are suspicious of Percy. That she does not conceal her incarceration does not help
them warm to her. This gentle drama centers on the relationships between Percy, the
townsfolk and the Spitfire Grill.

Friday, March 2 - Chariots of Fire (PG) Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the story of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell, a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man's life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires.

Friday, March 9 – The Straight Story (G) Filmed along the 260-mile route that the actual Alvin
Straight traversed in 1994 from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, "the Straight story"
chronicles a trip made by 73-year-old Alvin Straight from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wis.,
in 1994 while riding a lawn mower. The man undertook his strange journey to mend his
relationship with his ill, estranged, 75-year-old brother Lyle. By sharing his life's earned
wisdom with simple stories, Alvin has a profound impact on the characters that color his

Friday, March 16 – My Name is Khan (PG13) Rizwan Khan, a Muslim from the Borivali section
of Mumbai, suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism that
complicates socialization. After 9/11, Rizwan is detained by authorities at LAX who mistake his
disability for suspicious behavior. Following his arrest, he begins a journey to meet US
President Bush to clear his name.

Friday, March 23 - Life is Beautiful (PG13) In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish bookkeeper named
Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido
and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German
forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a
Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand
prize for winning is a tank

Adult Ed Series

Sunday Morning in Adult Ed: Telling our Faith Stories
What does it mean to be spiritual? Religious? Is spirituality simply whatever religion is not?
How have we come to define ourselves as Christian? Were/are there members of our families
and communities that have helped us in that journey? Beginning with a look at family systems,
we’ll consider our own spiritual/religious inheritances and how we come to an understanding of our Christian identity. Led by Pastor Judy with guest speaker Dr. Carl Yusavitz to open the

February 18 – Family Matters! What does it mean to you to be a Christian? Did religious
participation have a major impact on your religious or spiritual life when you were growing up?
Did your family celebrate any major religious life rituals? If you are married and/or with kids,
are they in the same religious tradition? Rev. Dr. Carl Yusavitz, Director of Pastoral Services at
the Penn Foundation in Sellersville, PA, will set the stage for our series by giving us a working
understanding of family systems.

February 25 – “Spiritual not Religious?” According to the “Faith Matters” surveys, the most
detailed ever taken of Americans’ religious and civic lives, a large number of Americans define
themselves this way. So what does it mean for those of us in the Christian tradition? Are the
two mutually exclusive, or is there room for both? Where and how does faith fit in? We’ll look
at three different patterns of spirituality; take the “Spirituality 101” self-survey, and discuss
what it means to reject religion in favor of spirituality.

March 4 - What’s Your Story? “God loves stories – that’s why He created us!” - Elie Wiesel.
Those of us whose spirituality is intimately bound up with the church often find it is not so easy to move from busyness to quiet, from speaking to listening; in fact, sometimes our church lives make this very difficult! So how can we live into our communal faith lives while also nurturing our spirits? Often, the answer lies in our stories. In this session, we’ll use a community
genogram to begin framing our spiritual autobiographies. Bring your favorite candy to share!

March 11 – Wearing your Sunday Best! This week we’ll continue to fill in our faith stories by
looking at our family genograms. A genogram is a way of helping us understand each person in a family, their history and connections to one another. A spiritual family genogram looks at
patterns related to personal faith and family religious practices, such as how and whether
families celebrate rituals of connection (meals, coming and going), celebration (birthdays,
anniversaries) and community (Thanksgiving, Christmas). Paper, pencils and erasers provided!

March 18 – Wearing your Sweats – In exploring our family genograms, we may occasionally
uncover some things that we didn’t know about before, including the occasional spiritual
wound. Poet Robert Bly believes that one’s spiritual wounds are the source of one’s genius and
“… precisely the place from which we will give our major gift to the community.” Come
prepared to engage the source of your genius by examining your personal genogram. Wearing
sweats encouraged!

March 25 – On the Road Again… “Two people journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus on that
first Easter afternoon. A stranger joined them on this walk, and they began to share their
story… The stranger shared his story…” Now that you’ve learned something about your own
faith story, that of your family and the community in which you were raised, how do you go
about sharing that information? When is it TMI? Too little? Learn “Judy’s 8 Commandments
for Sharing” to set a tone for sharing your faith story.

Adult Education program introduces the "Neighbor Series"



Adult Education continues in the new year with a look at the second of the great commandments: to “love your neighbor as yourself.” In recognition of January 15 as Martin Luther King Day of Service and of February as Black History Month, we begin with a look at the role of the Black church in Philadelphia as an advocate for our African-American neighbors. This series will segue into the question of sanctuary and conclude with a presentation on current issues in the immigration debate.

January 7: “Who is Our Neighbor in Church?” Rev. Dr. Leonard Bethel, retired Professor Emeritus from Rutgers University and one of the key organizers of their Department of Africana Studies, will address "African Theology, Black Presbyterianism and the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia." Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about our neighbors in the Philadelphia Presbytery!

January 14: “Who is our Neighbor in Jail?” Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr went to jail 29 times, largely on trumped-up charges? That he entered Morehouse College at the age of 15? That he was ordained to the ministry before he graduated from college? Come learn more about this civil rights leader as we listen to excerpts from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in his own voice. We will use images and scripture readings to reflect upon the meaning of MLK Jr’s message in our day.

January 21: “Who is our Neighbor in Sanctuary?” The sanctuary movement has been much in the news of late, yet the intricacies of offering and receiving sanctuary are poorly understood. The Rev. Adan Mairena, community organizer and pastor of the West Kensington Ministry and the Yeadon Presbyterian Church will discuss sanctuary as a social justice issue.  Adan is a board member of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia.

January 28: “Who is our Neighbor in the Philadelphia?” We anticipate hosting Lois Hayman-El, Training Specialist at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and member/historian of the First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and First African’s Clerk of Session, Marcia Singleton, for a lively presentation about the nation’s first African American Presbyterian Church. First African was established in 1807 by the Reverend John Gloucester, a former slave from Tennessee.

February 4: “Who is Our Neighbor in Wyncote?”  Isaac Baah, currently a second-career student at Princeton Theological Seminary and inquirer under care of the Philadelphia Presbytery, will be with us to discuss his ministry with the United Ghanaian Community Church, a chartered congregation of the Philadelphia Presbytery. Learn more about this unique fellowship in our midst, “…ministering unto Christians of all denominations the Ghanaian way.”

February 11: “Who is Our Neighbor in Jenkintown?” The church office often handles requests from people needing assistance to take the bus to the US Center for Immigration Services in Philadelphia. To learn more about what is needed by those in need of such services, join us for a presentation by Bill Stock, one of the country’s leading immigration lawyers and a founding member of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP. A local resident who has practiced immigration law exclusively for over twenty years, Bill will present a nuanced picture of the issues involved in immigration.   


Christmas Eve at Grace: What to expect

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A full day of worship, devotion and celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ will take place on Sunday, Dec. 24. Below is insight into what to expect across a 15-hour-day of service. 

Morning Worship
(8:30 & 10:30 a.m.)
Informal worship at 8:30 a.m., choir and organ at 10:30 a.m.. Pastor Sandy Hull will preach “The Three Tenses of Christmas,” based on Titus 2:11-14.

Family Service
5:00 p.m.
Stuffed with carols and bustling with activity, this service gives every child the opportunity to dress up as an animal or person (costumes provided) from the Christmas story and be part of an informal yet meaningful pageant.

Communion Service
7:30 p.m.
This quieter and more reflective service centers on communion and concludes with a candlelit “Silent Night.”

Candlelight Service
11:00 p.m.
The exuberant glory of brass, organ, bells, and choir surrounding a hush of wonder by candlelight make this a much-loved and moving worship experience. The musical prelude will begin at 10:30 p.m.

Note: There will be child care all morning and during the 7:30 p.m. service, and Sunday School at 10:30 a.m. Pastor Sandy Hull will preach during the 7:30 and 11:00 p.m. services. The sermon is entitled, “Runaway and Rescue." 

Sunday School FAQs


You’ve probably thought about it, you may have even considered it.

But you just don’t know what it all entails.

If this your sentiment when it comes to the notion of volunteering as a Sunday School teacher at Grace, we understand. But we’d also like to explain what to expect and thanks in advance if after reading this consideration turns into commitment.

So there are two types of volunteers: station leaders and shepherds. Consider the latter the intro to Sunday School teaching phase as Shepherds simply guide students to their stations (which rotate every week in a 4-6 week session) and is responsible for attendance and one-on-one interaction with both children and parents. Unlike the roles of a station leader, who creates lesson plans each week based on given curriculum for their assigned station, a shepherd is merely there to assist.

To do so each week, a Shepherd simply needs to:

  • Arrive in pews no later than 10:20 a.m. on a worship Sunday.
  • Take attendance each week.
  • Use the tools and journals that will be in provided shepherd bags and return said bag back to the bin next to the bookshelf across from the nursery.

Station leaders hold a bit more responsibility. As keepers of the week’s activity, Station leaders will need to simply consult the prepared and provided materials and lessons found on the bookshelf across from the nursery, should additional items need to be purchased just deliver receipts to Children’s Education team for reimbursement.

Should you commit as either a Shepherd or Station Leader and are unable to make your week’s assignment, it’d be ideal if you could find a suitable replacement or contact Kelly Hudson, Grace’s director of children’s ministry. Also, Kelly is a great resource for the bouncing of ideas, direction or any modifications in schedule.

Lastly, signing up as a volunteer has been made simpler through the use of the church’s registration form. Just pick your week, your ideal station fill out the form. For easy reference the link is:

We hope this quick tutorial makes your decision easier as when it comes to our kids and making sure they receive the most rewarding Sunday School experience, we’ll take all the help we can get.

Not just a toy: Why Cradle for the Christ Child is a near and dear holiday tradition at Grace

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With the added stress of holiday shopping compounding onto the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight in the fact of what this season of giving and caring is truly about.

Perhaps one of the more selfless things we can do as Presbyterians at this time is to look at who we can help during this time as although we are steadily in planning and preparation, there are so many around us that are less fortunate. When you really stop to think you then realize that many of those less fortunate beings are children.

It’s with this notion in mind, why Mission Team has continued the Cradle for the Christ Child tradition here at Grace. An annual holiday effort that has spanned over 20 years at the church wraps up Sunday, Dec. 3, but there is still time to bring a donation of a toy or gift card to help a child or family in need. It’s about community and this event is one that certainly helps in bringing ours together a little closer this holiday season.

“Grace Presbyterian has shared holiday blessings with families in need for over 20 years, through the Cradle for the Christ Child program,” noted Mission Team volunteer Meghan Zamborsky. "[It’s] the tradition of bringing joy to children and families in our community by selecting a card with a child's wish, and purchasing an item or two for them for Christmas. Alternatively, gift cards to local retailers in any denomination are also welcome.”

Wish cards can be found just inside the Vista Road entrance of the church outside Pastor Sandy Hull’s office. If you are interested in participating, please contact Meghan or Mission Team lead Michele Smeal at From there you’ll be assigned a child and given their information.

In order to deliver before Christmas, the goal would be to have gifts or gifts delivered during Sunday worship services by Dec. 3. It’s a great way during the hustle and bustle to remind all of us what this season and this tradition is all about.

St. Andrew's Sunday: A brief history



Upon entering church ahead of 10:30 a.m. worship services on Nov. 26, things may look a little different than a customary Sunday at Grace.

In large part, because the church will be celebrating the annual custom of St. Andrew’s Sunday, a day reflecting St. Andrew, the first disciple of Christ, but also his impact on early Scottish Presbyterianism as the first patron saint of Scotland. But along with the bagpipers, kilts and special liturgies and songs one can expect to hear Sunday, there is a bit of history behind this important service.

So before you head out, here's five little nuggets of information to bring you up to speed on the impact of St. Andrew’s Sunday in Presbyterian life and here at Grace. 

I. Much of St. Andrew’s Sunday revolves around what is called the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan, a celebration of Scottish clans that demonstrated unity and family regardless of whether someone was a member of their own clan. During English monarch rule over much of Scotland, clansmen were banned from wearing tartan design or kilts that represented their homeland. It’s said that in rebellion, clansmen would take pieces of their banned cloth to clergy, who would slip a blessing on behalf of that clan during a worship service.

II. While the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan ceremony revolves around the history of Scottish brotherhood and faith, the custom is largely Scottish-American, perhaps best known for its creation by Rev. Peter Marshall, a former chaplain of the U.S. Senate and longtime pastor at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (1939-45).

III. It also noted that the early days of the Kirkin’ service raise funds to assist the efforts of Scottish churches during World War II, evolving later into the larger Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan service, that has been held also inside the National Presbyterian Cathedral in Washington, D.C. since 1954.

IV. When St. Andrew was martyred, he demanded a cross in the shape of an X; it was this notion that led to the design of Scotland’s flag: a white X sitting within a blue backdrop.

V. During the Nov. 26 worship service at Grace, a Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan blessing will take place, with a presentation of tartan before Almighty God asking His blessing. In addition, there will be a bagpipe procession featuring the Acolyte carrying the “Light of Christ,” and the Banner of the Scots. Rev. Judy Dwyer will lead the sermon, entitled: “How to Find Milk in the Fridge,” and we invite all of you to stay after church, enjoy refreshments as we look to “Deck the Halls” in spirit of the holiday season leading into the first week of Advent on Dec. 3.



Fresh air: Grace middle school youth team up to assist Breathing Room Foundation


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Earlier this month, many of our middle school students got a chance to get outside and clean up for a great cause. The cause is the Breathing Room Foundation, a Jenkintown-based nonprofit, whose mission is to care and support the families that have had a loved one affected by cancer. An organization, Grace’s mission team has worked with for many years, this latest endeavor was a chance of our kids to get out into the community and get a little dirty for a great cause but more importantly to show compassion for those in need of a little.

Grace member Caitlyn Deviney, who assisted the mission team in this endeavor narrated the day.


Our middle schoolers had a great time serving our community. They made yardwork fun for themselves and for the families. One family we helped out all came outside as well with their dog and kids and the kids raked leaves together, jumped in piles, and swung on their rope swing.


We enjoyed our time with them. Through and there there was just genuine thankfulness and our middle school kids were simply happy to help and to be together.


Our middle schoolers gained more experience in serving others not just on a bigger mission trip like they may have been a part of, but simply in our local community, which is SO important as well. They were the hands and feet of Jesus that morning in the yards, just simply acting in obedience and desire to serve and give.


Interested in volunteering in mission initiatives? Contact Michele Smeal at


Part II of a Q&A with Warren Cooper: State of jazz and jazz worship

 The son of a minister, Warren Cooper grew up playing music inside the Presbyterian church. 

The son of a minister, Warren Cooper grew up playing music inside the Presbyterian church. 

Earlier this month, musician Warren Cooper ran a very spirited (and spiritual) jazz worship service alongside his ensemble during 10:30 a.m. worship services at Grace.

A child of a Presbyterian minister, Warren grew up in the church and alongside a passion for liturgy and scripture, it was the music – and the various types of music – that truly captured his attention and aided in building his relationship with Christ.

However in addition to his passion for a jazz worship, Warren noted that with it came a passion for the genre of jazz music as a whole. A genre of music born primarily from old worship hymnals and songs, became an important tool in his own right in the birth of modern secular music. But where is jazz today? As its popularity continues to make a return in becoming more prevalent in churches, it’s impact on today’s music isn’t the dynamo it once was.

We asked Warren his thoughts and here’s what he had to say:

What is it about jazz that caught your attention?
Along with having grown up with a wide variety of worship music, I also grew up in jazz. I can remember early times where I knew I wanted to [merge] the two together. They were never mutually exclusive for me.

Where is jazz today? With all the other clutter of music, would you saying it’s becoming a lost art?
Jazz has changed. From a [radio] market perspective, jazz and classical music make up just four percent of the market. However, within the context of that number and the context of the cultural aspect, I would describe jazz actually as being in the middle of a resurgence. Now, there are cultural conversations around that resurgence given the gentrification of neighborhoods and the jazz that comes forth from that gentrification, but that’s just a sociological comment about the state of the players.

 During the first week of November, Warren's Cooper's Jazz Ensemble played Grace's 10:30 a.m. jazz worship service. 

During the first week of November, Warren's Cooper's Jazz Ensemble played Grace's 10:30 a.m. jazz worship service. 

What’s being to do revive the art form itself?

A lot of the musicians that are my age or older that have focused on schooling some of the younger musicians not just about what to play, but how to play. It’s all in the approach. The [jazz] community is growing and there are becoming more places to hear the music. Now, you can listen to a rendition of Miles Davis’ “Seven Steps to Heaven,” almost anywhere in the city performed by all different types of wonderful musicians. So the music is thriving and it’s thriving in its own niche.

Where do you see this progression headed and how differently will jazz sound not just in its own genre, but also how that progression makes it back into a worship service?

The role of the jazz musician is changing and the role of the music is changing. But within all of those contexts I would say jazz is as healthy as it’s been and it looks a lot differently than it used to. With time there’s change, some things change for better or worse, but because of where the soul of jazz derives from it’ll never stray far from its roots and this music is deeply rooted in the church.

Have a story idea? Send your pitch to Kerith Gabriel at



In tragedy's aftermath, be the embodiment of scripture

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13

The recent unfortunate events that transpired in Sutherland Springs, Texas served as a harrowing reminder that even places of worship are not immune to violence.

We must however remain steadfast in our faith in the face of evil, but also proactive in making sure our daily lives embody what the scriptures preach about loving – and listening – to our fellow man. It’s not enough to offer “thoughts and prayers,” in the aftermath of tragic events. Rev. Herbert Nelson, the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) attested earlier this week on the organization’s website.

The takeaway from Nelson’s words?

It’s important that we use these instances – ones happening at an alarming rate – to do more than just offer momentary condolences.  Here inside Grace, our associate pastor Judy Dwyer echoed similar sentiments, adding that action through one’s embodiment of Christ’s teaching means so much more than our words could ever express.

“It is easy for those of us who have never experienced this kind of trauma to stand on the fringes and quote scripture. To do that, however, is to reduce the events in Sutherland Springs to just one more story about gun violence, and scripture to meaningless blather.”

Instead, Rev. Judy proposed the following:

Better to embody scripture by loving our neighbor: listening to what hurts them, challenging unjust systems, and working to change lives. Better to live as if we believe that there is more to life than death. Better to listen for that still, small voice of God that speaks louder than all the atrocious things human beings do to one another. Whatever, whomever, wherever we fear, God is greater. God will wipe away every tear and, in due time, restore what has been lost. It may not look like what has passed, but God will do a new thing.”


Continue to show compassion, faith and strength in Christ, yourself and your fellow man and you’ll have enough solace to never feel the urge to offer just momentary thoughts and prayers in tragedy.

This article was written by Kerith Gabriel. Contact Kerith at

A Letter from the Session

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With humble and grateful hearts, the Session of Grace Presbyterian Church is excited to announce a plan to search for two called Associate Pastors.  This bold step supports goals and strategies in our ReVision Plan.

We have already been planning to call an Associate Pastor to provide spiritual and organizational leadership for Grace’s evangelism initiatives, for the Board of Deacons and its various ministries, and for Adult Education. This Associate Pastor will also be responsible for continued growth in church-wide fellowship and intergenerational activities and will engage in pastoral care.  This is an outgrowth of the position Pastor Judy Dwyer currently fills on an interim basis.

Today, Session proposes to turn the existing position for Director of Student Ministry into an Associate Pastor position. Over the past few years, two search committees have worked hard to find a Director of Student Ministry, but we have been disappointed with the number and the quality of applicants. However, creating and sustaining a vital Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Grace stands as a top priority in our ReVision Plan.  Session has wrestled with the gap between our vision and goals and our inability to fill our Director of Student Ministry position.  

Through prayer, conversation, and discernment we feel called to change the position from Director of Student Ministry to Associate Pastor.  This will both increase the applicant pool and give us applicants with greater maturity and training. Adding support for Mission to the duties of this position will provide support for a ministry area that has been understaffed as well as a vital link between our youth ministries and our mission efforts.

The position of Associate Pastor will require higher compensation than an unordained youth director.  We are blessed to have already received a generous gift that covers the difference in salary for several years between a Director of Student Ministry (unordained) and a called Associate Pastor.  (Our current budget includes salary for a Director of Student Ministry.)  This gift enables us to call and install an Associate Pastor for Youth, Young Adults, and Mission without adding that salary difference to our budget immediately.  

The staffing model needed to fulfill the ReVision Plan will still require us to grow in generosity, as it includes the newly-filled part-time positions of Director of Children’s Ministry and Communications Coordinator. For our vision to become a reality your faithful prayer and generous giving are needed so that we can fulfill our Mission: To Know Christ and Make Him Known.

Following the 10:30 a.m. service on Nov. 19, Session members will be available for a Q&A in the Chapel. Additionally, a Congregational Meeting has been called for Dec. 3 following the 10:30 a.m. service to elect the two search teams.

Together in Christ’s service,  

Mimi Satterthwaite, Clerk
Judy Alexander
Andrew Barnett
Susan Dorshimer
Tom Erwine
Doug Geer
Rob Hudson
Philip Kuhl
Kathryn Limmer
Don Pizer
Darlene Reeves
John Van Buren