Grace Episcopal Church in Allentown PA offers grace in the city for those who come seeking spiritual and physical sustenance. PBS39 features the work of Grace, its Montessori primary school, food bank, and other services. The church is committed to serving the community in which it finds itself.
The rector, the Rev. Patrick Malloy tells Episcopal Cafe:
Grace Church is in a once-prosperous neighborhood that declined greatly with the death of the steel industry. While there were no factories in Allentown to be torn down, despite what Billy Joel's song claims, many residents worked in the nearby Bethlehem Steel Works: the largest factory in the world. As the neighborhood decayed and crime soared, the people of Grace Church voted to stay in the urban core and work to revitalize it, even as other mainline churches closed and moved to the suburbs.
Within the past five years alone, the parish has renovated part of a defunct retail space to create a 10-thousand-square-foot state-of-the-art Montessori pre-school and kindergarten (part of the city's urban redevelopment master plan), founded the first Montessori elementary school in Northeast Pennsylvania (and the first elementary school in the Diocese of Bethlehem). Grace Church partnered with the federal government to establish an employment agency for the neighborhood, turned over a significant part of its plant for GED classes, Monday through Friday, and has become the home of a rehabilitation program for fist-time juvenile offenders. Within the last year alone, both legal services and psychological counseling have been made available on-site to clients of all the parish outreach ministries.
Plans are underway for expanding the school into another abandoned downtown retail property, and converting a parish-owned house into apartments that will serve as transitional housing for homeless people.
Watch the video here.