Bishop Paul Marshall Christmas Sermon
Gregory Malia

Grace Allentown renovation

Pew removed. Replaced with chairs. Terrazzo floor installed. Walls painted. Windows cleaned. Sides of hanging lights painted black to produce softer lighting of nave.


Something remarkable has been going on at Grace Church Allentown over the past few weeks. The pews have been removed. They will be replaced with high quality, gothic-style church chairs. First, however, the entire sanctuary/nave now has a beautiful terrazzo floor. To prepare the floor for the pouring of terrazzo, a significant number of parishioners and the rector gave many hours and days to rip up the old floor and screw down plywood (one screw for every eight inches). The church is being painted as we speak.

Father Pat Malloy, Grace Church rector, has posted a photo journal of the renovation here.

"The amount of work and imagination that has been poured into our shared building and, thus, our common life, has been amazing," Father Malloy wrote recently in an email note to parishioners ... The crew has been large, tireless, and from every conceivable category: women, men, young, not-so-young, new to Grace, baptized at Grace ... Already the people who have been doing the work (and it is hard, dirty work) have begun to dream aloud about what we will be able to do with our renewed space: spread out a canvas labyrinth for prayer and retreat, give the homeless a place to sit during the day and even a place to unroll sleeping bags at night; a space for concerts; a room for elder care. It is so like Grace Church to instinctively link renovating our liturgical space to increasing our outreach.  At Grace, we know that liturgy and life are one ...  The Church exists for the world beyond the Church, and Grace Church knows that. Even as we renew our building, we are asking how we can renew the world."

[Background from Father Malloy, rector, Grace Allentown] First came the flood from the leaking roof. While we were waiting for the insurance company to assess the damage to the floor and walls, a contractor came for the placing of his brother-in-law's ashes in the columbarium. He noticed the damaged floor and offered to install terrazzo for the cost of labor. He would donate the materials. Then someone on the west coast visiting our website saw our architect's plans for renovating the church. Those plans were drawn up last year and were just a dream. She offered us a very sizable grant to replace our pews with the church chairs the architect suggested, but only if we could match it. We are now working to meet her challenge and are confident we will. Then a newcomer contacted a former business associate and arranged to have the paint donated. We did not ask him to do it. He just told us that we have free paint.

Within just a couple months, then, we went from thinking that we could never afford to rehab our church (even though it was getting shabbier by the day) to being mid-project, and are planning to move into a renewed space on Christmas Eve.


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