Grace Church carries out the ministry of Jesus Christ through a range of committees, guilds, organizations and community service groups. Following is a brief discussion of the various ministry groups within Grace Church and parishioner community outreach.
Adults or youth may serve as acolytes by assisting the clergy at the altar during services.
Psalm 150 encourages us: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Worship is our center, and music plays an essential role. Our intergenerational choir of teens through adults sings weekly from September through Pentecost (late May or early June).
We rehearse Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:00 in the undercroft. Our selection of music is eclectic in tradition and style, and still strongly rooted in the Episcopal tradition, using the choir with organ and other keyboards. Newcomers are always welcome. If you sing or play an instrument and would like to offer your talents in worship, please contact our Director of Music anytime.
The Grace Church Altar Guild prepares the church and altar for each service – 9 a.m. Sunday Eucharist, mid-week services, weddings, funerals and all services, scheduled and unscheduled throughout the year.
Lay readers are parishioners who read the appointed lessons and Psalms from the Episcopal Lectionary during the 9 a.m. service. There is a set schedule and the lessons are mailed to the appointed parishioner one week before reading.
Chalice Bearers are members who assist the clergy by serving the chalice to communicants during the distribution of Holy Communion.
Individuals or couples who welcome members and visitors, provide service bulletins and take up the Offertory collection.
Episcopal Church Women (ECW)
Worship as a community of women, turning to God in gratitude for blessings of family, home, and friendship. We ask the Lord for guidance in translating our Christian belief into action in our lives.
Our ECW embraces the tradition of working together on parish functions, raising funds to support outreach, seeking out and offering spiritual and learning experiences, praying daily for those in need, and simply enjoying the loving fellowship of each other.
We participate in supporting the United Thank Offering. The UTO is an outreach program, administered by the ECW Diocese of Chicago, awarding grants for new ministry, providing tools and vehicles to carry out programs, funding staff, among other requests. “It’s not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.”
We meet on the 1st Firday of each month at 11:30am in St. Stephen’s Hall.
To learn about opportunities to participate on the Deanery, Diocesan, Province, or National level, please visit the ECW, Diocese of Chicago website
Men of Grace
Fellowship with men of the parish. Meet at 9 East Café at 8:00am on 3rd Saturday of each month.
At Grace Church, we take environmental stewardship very seriously. In this spirit, Grace’s Green has been exploring ways to encourage sustainable living as a church and as individuals. Our group plans to build on past accomplishments and continue to seek opportunities to protect and care for God’s creation. All are welcome to join.
Education For Ministry (EFM)
An in-depth four year program focused on Old and New Testament studies. Meets each week at the church with emphasis on personal spiritual growth.
Meets on Sunday morning, at 8:00 a.m.
Meals on Wheels
A local program based at FHN Hospital to deliver hot meals to shut-ins or those unable to cook or shop. Member volunteers work in teams of two on a schedule coordinated jointly by the hospital and our lead volunteer.
Volunteers deliver altar flowers following the Sunday service to members unable to attend and others periodically send cards or make hospital and home visits as needed or requested by clergy.
Grace Church enjoys serving a community meal at the church on Sunday evenings, every other month during the year, offering a variety of menus. The meal is free and open to everyone in the community.
Our members volunteer with the FHN Hospice program serving Freeport and the surrounding area. They serve by singing with a choir that visits nursing homes and private homes, providing brief respite care and individual visits to people under Hospice care, and others volunteer in our local Hospice office
Parish volunteers work in the jail library on a weekly basis.
The Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC) is a collaborative group of Freeport churches whose mission is to provide emergency food, clothing and shelter to those in need. Grace Church was a founding member of this organization and strongly supports all their programs. One of our favorite FACC ventures is Hero House, which is a housing program for homeless military veterans.
The annual Stephenson County CROP Hunger Walk is held in September. 25% of the funds raised stays in Freeport and the rest is donated to Church World Service.
Freeport Recycle Store
A “second-chance” community non-profit store. Freeport Recycle Store opened after receiving a generous grant from the Freeport Community Foundation. The store is staffed entirely by volunteers and their mission is to generate funds for community outreach in Freeport.
Vacation Bible School
Each year Grace Church joins with United Presbyterian, Prince of Peace and St. James CME churches to plan and hold a week-long Vacation Bible School for children in Freeport and surrounding areas.
The Vestry are the legal representatives of Grace Church. Members are elected at the annual meeting in January and serve for one three-year term. The Vestry appoints a Parish Treasurer and Vestry Clerk. Vestry duties include:
- Define and articulate the mission of the congregation.
- Support the church’s mission by word and deed.
- Select a Rector.
- Ensure effective organization, planning and management of resources and finances.
Vestry standing committees are Worship & Music, Building & Grounds, Finance, Endowment/Trustees and Memorial/Columbarium.
Front Row (L-R): Candy Colby, Peggy Isaac – Jr. Warden, Mike Shore – Clerk
Back Row (L-R): The Rev. Eldred George, Heidi Downing – Treasurer, Stephanie Degenhardt, Laurie Gungle, Marissa Routson, Chuck Terpening – Sr Warden, Jeff Francis (not pictured), Nick Smith (not pictured)
In recent years, cremation with interment of the ashes, rather than traditional burial, has become more common. Grace Church Columbarium was established in 1985 to provide a place within the church for the interment of the ashes of deceased parishioners and their families.
Our Columbarium is located beneath the wood parquet floor in the altar area and has 100 niches currently available. The names, birth dates and death dates of all who are in the Columbarium are engraved on individual brass name plaques located on a wall near the Columbarium.