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Grace United Methodist Church

Grace United Methodist Church, Valley Stream, New York

100th Anniversary Celebration

Dinner Dance at Coral House, Baldwin, New York

March 28, 2004


The following candlelighting ceremony was created by Richard Keidel.




Ten Decades Ceremony


Grace Church was founded 100 years ago with high hopes and faith in the future.  The founders prayed that with God=s help it might become a light of faith and hope to the community. Imagine how proud and happy they would be if they were here today.  And, think of all that happened in the church during those 100 years.  Well, now with the help of 20 members of Grace Church we are going to take a few minutes to remember those years, a decade at a time.  And, in the tradition of a real anniversary party we will light a candle on our lovely anniversary cake to mark each decade.  And, at the end we hope you will all join in as we sing “Happy Anniversary to You, Dear Grace Church.”


Our first decade will be remembered for us by Bert Keller and Winnie Holden.


(Reader: Bert Keller)

Grace Church=s First Decade - 1904 – 1914.  Just a few weeks before our first decade started the world got a hint of what the future would hold when the Wright brothers flew their first successful flights at Kitty Hawk in December, 1903.  And 1904 would be memorable in many ways.  That year the world not only welcomed on the scene Glenn Miller and Dr. Seuss, but Grace Church was incorporated on January 29th.  However worship was still held in the “Sinners Hope” chapel on Wheeler Avenue as well as the Valley Stream firehouse on South Corona Avenue until a new church could be built.


(Reader: Winnie Holden)

In the fall of 1905 the first church was opened on the corner of South Franklin and Fairview Avenues.  Its first pastor was the Reverend Jabez Scott, to be followed by the Reverends A. F. Chamberlain and Rufus S. Putney in 1908, and the Reverend M. L. Wolcott in 1911.  During this time a church bell was installed and rung for the first time on New Year=s Eve, 1912 to welcome in the new year.  Taken down when the old church was demolished, it remains next to the Fairview Avenue entrance of the Education Building.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The first candle on the cake is lit.)



Our second decade will be remembered for us by Bill Craig and Victor Provenzano.


(Reader: Bill Craig)

Grace Church=s Second Decade - 1914 – 1924.  The early years of this decade saw the First World War, and many from Valley Stream and Grace Church would serve their country. The Reverend C. W. Severance came in 1916 followed by the Reverends Roy M. Terry in 1918, and Henry Medd in 1923.  In December, 1919 the First Church (at Sinner=s Hope Chapel) united with Grace Church. Growth in Sunday School enrollment was so rapid, additional facilities had to be provided.  In February, 1920 a capital funds campaign to raise $5,000 was launched; it met overwhelming success and $6,200 was subscribed. The church mortgage was burned on March 14, 1920.


(Reader: Victor Provenzano)

The church facilities continued to expand when in 1921 a community hall was completed and a church basketball league was formed.  And, as a sign of the changing times, a garage was built for the pastor=s car in June, 1923.  And in what could be called a “curious changing of places” Reverend Terry accepted a call to the Waterbury Connecticut Methodist Church in April, 1923, exchanging places with the incoming pastor Reverend Henry Medd.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The second candle on the cake is lit.)



Our third decade will be remembered by Anne Mahoney and George Simmons.


(Reader: Anne Mahoney)

Grace Church=s Third Decade - 1924 – 1934.  In July, 1924 the Ladies Aid completed the basement of the hall and put sidewalks and curbing around the church and parsonage.  At the Annual Conference in 1925, Reverend Kenneth G. Richards became pastor.  He was short of stature but tall in ability.  Under his direction the church continued to prosper and grow.  His stay would be the longest of any pastor at Grace Church lasting 30 years until 1955.  In 1925 Pastor Richards was presented with a new car to assist in making home calls.  And, beginning a long and glorious musical tradition, the first vocal choir was organized in September, 1925.


(Reader: George Simmons)

By April, 1926 the church and Sunday School had grown to such proportions the Official Board began discussing the possibility of a new church plant.  However within a few years the Depression hit and all plans had to be abandoned indefinitely. Instead, the site of the present Education Building was purchased for $8,000.  In 1928 the last mortgage of indebtedness on church property was burned.  In August, 1929, during the pastor=s vacation, the parsonage was moved to its new location at 75 West Fairview.  A three day celebration commemorating the 26th year of the incorporation of Grace Church was held in August, 1929.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The third candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s fourth decade will be remembered by Betty Kupfer and Amanda Barnes.


(Reader: Betty Kupfer)

Grace Church=s Fourth Decade - 1934 – 1944.  A new church organ was installed in June, 1937.  Church enrollment was 668, representing 318 families and 660 Sunday School children. In 1939 another wing was added to the church to provide much needed seating.  On February 3, 1941 the name of our church was officially changed to Grace Methodist Church of Valley Stream.  During these years the world would once again be plunged into war and the United States would join in the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.


(Reader: Amanda Barnes)

Many from Valley Stream and Grace Church would again serve their country in military service.  On the home front life went on and the largest confirmation class of 46 boys and girls joined the church on Palm Sunday in 1943.  In September of that year the old title of Ladies Aid was changed officially to the more descriptive one of Women=s Society of Christian Service.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The fourth candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s fifth decade will be remembered by Joseph Eshun and Eric Bjorneby.


(Reader: Joseph Eshun)

Grace Church=s Fifth Decade - 1944 – 1954.  In 1944 the Reverend John Bardsley came as an assistant to Pastor Richards.  World War Two ended in August, 1945, after which Valley Stream, along with all of Long Island, experienced a tremendous surge in home building to satisfy the pent up demand caused by returning servicemen and women.  This was reflected by an upsurge in church membership and by March,1947, there were 1061 members on the church roll representing 534 families, with a Sunday School enrollment of 731.  During these years, the last of the local farmland in this once agricultural community, would yield to home builders and the long dormant Curtis Field would become Green Acres Shopping Center.


(Reader: Eric Bjorneby)

Once again Grace Church needed more space to house all its activities, and especially the Sunday School.  So in 1953 an Educational Building, smaller than today=s, was built at a cost of $200,000.  It was the first of several collaborations between award winning, local architect Frederick Wiedersum Sr. who designed it at no charge, and built at cost thanks to the generosity of Arthur Hendrickson and Hendrickson Brothers Inc.  Its completion was opportune for a fire in the church had done considerable damage to the building and caused a Sunday School class to be held in the parsonage basement. The Reverend Earle R. Custer came as associate in 1954.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The fifth candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s sixth decade will be remembered by Emily Hendrickson and Marie White.


(Reader: Emily Hendrickson)

Grace Church=s Sixth Decade - 1954 – 1964.  In 1955 Reverend Richards retired after 30 fruitful years.  In July of that year Reverend Paul L. Sartorio arrived as his successor. He proved to be the right man for the job, at the right time. Within 92 years he received 2,000 people into membership and Grace Church became the largest Methodist church in the metropolitan area.  A new and larger church building was needed.  So, the current church was begun in February, 1957, and completed later that year.  Once again designed by Mr. Fredrick Wiedersum and through the continued generosity of Arthur Hendrickson,, built at cost by Hendrickson Brothers Inc.


(Reader: Marie White)

The striking stained glass windows and the beautiful fixtures all came as testimonials of the unselfishness of the friends of Grace Church.  As did the three magnificent copper beech trees that, thanks to Arthur Hendrickson, still grace the church grounds almost 50 years later.  But even in the new church building congregations became so large that two regularly scheduled Sunday services were inaugurated.  And, even at that it was often necessary to place folding chairs along the center aisle to provide more seats. So the schedule was expanded to three services during special church seasons.  And the Reverend Harry L. Bryant came to assist Pastor Sartorio from 1960 - 1962, followed by the Reverend Paul Boller in 1962.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The sixth candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s seventh decade will be remembered by Herb Biegler and Diane Panzarino.


(Reader: Herb Biegler)

Grace Church=s Seventh Decade - 1964 – 1974.  A second addition to the Education Building was begun in 1965 to accommodate the bulging Sunday School, again facilitated by the generosity of Frederick Wiedersum and Arthur Hendrickson.  The title of our church was changed again in April, 1968, when the Evangelical United Brethren Church was united with the Methodist Church.  Thereafter it would be known as the United Methodist Church, and in the case of Valley Stream, the title became the Grace United Methodist Church. The Reverend Leon Kofod, a retired pastor from Woodmere Methodist Church aided Pastor Sartorio from 1964 to 1970 as well as the Reverend Clinton Lunt who came in 1967. 


(Reader: Diane Panzarino)

It came as a shock to many when Reverend Paul Sartorio announced he would leave in June, 1970, after a most successful fifteen year stay.  Like Pastor Richards before him, he had left his mark in many ways on Grace Church.  He was succeeded by the Reverend Arnold Miller, who later that year was joined by a new associate pastor, the Reverend Sanford Stamper.  The Grace Nursery School, that has benefited so many in the community, was started in 1971. In June 1973 Reverend Miller left and the second longest-serving pastor came aboard, Robert W. Howard.  He would stay an amazing 28 years, and except for reaching the mandatory retirement age, his stay probably would have equaled that of Pastor Richards.  Like Pastor Sartorio, Pastor Howard was also the right man at the right time.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The seventh candle on the cake is lit.)



The eighth decade will be remembered for us by Kim Neri and Walter McKnight.


(Reader: Kim Neri)

Grace Church=s Eighth Decade - 1974 – 1984.  With the advent of the “Howard” years an “open door” policy was adopted allowing the church facilities to become an important community center.  So, in addition to being home for the Nursery School, it also housed  the Cub Scouts,  AA program, 55 Alive Driving Course, Blood Pressure Screenings and many church groups including church and bell choirs, women=s circles, TNT club and club 21.  Reverend Stamper stayed until June, 1978, to be replaced by Reverend Robert R. Wright, who was followed by Reverend Max Schwindt in 1981, followed by Reverend Stephen Cordes in 1982.


(Reader: Walter Mc Knight)

In its maturity Grace Church had become a major focal point not only for Methodism in the area but for the entire Valley Stream community.  And, while its benefactors were many, two persons in particular, Arthur J. and Milton Hendrickson, father and son, tower above all others. Their gifts of Hendrickson Brothers= stock from the Hendrickson Brothers Foundation, Inc. and the Arthur J. Hendrickson Foundation beginning in late 1973 through 1986, provided a source of income over the years and still represent a major part of the church=s endowment.  And, their continued, almost yearly donations during these years were a reaffirmation of their approval of the mission of Grace Church and its programs under the direction of Pastor Robert Howard.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The eighth candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s ninth decade will be remembered by Lenore Kurz and Walter Harrod.


(Reader: Lenore Kurz)

Grace Church=s Ninth Decade - 1984 – 1994.  In keeping with the times the “Howard” years also saw the first female clergy at Grace Church, with the Reverend Madeline McDonald coming in 1986 and later the Reverend Julie Parker in 1990, both of whom enriched and added a new dimension to our worship.  And, another member of our congregation, Barbara Melzer, having completed a very successful career in teaching studied for, and was ordained in the ministry.  She joined the ranks of other Grace Church members who chose the ministry, including George Harris, Glenn Miller, Alan Yeo, Lisa Jean Hoefner, Warren Schutt, Randy Paige, Charlie Mayer, and Lori Miller.  A greater number of women also became trustees.


(Reader: Walter Harrod)

Grace Church continued to be a focal point for community activities, having a yearly fair and auction sponsored by the UMW as well as a Boy Scout Sunday and concerts.  Within the church, circles and clubs were well attended.  The Thrift Shop generated many thousands of dollars yearly for church outreach.  Other significant endowment gifts were received, namely those of Mildred Zulch and Frank Dunk that would provide for the building of a handicapped access ramp, and other major building improvements.


Let this be a light unto the people.  (The ninth candle on the cake is lit.)



Grace Church=s tenth decade will be remembered by Joanne Hazell and Craig Edelman.


(Reader: Joanne Hazell)

Grace Church=s Tenth Decade - 1994 - 2004.  Grace Church continued to serve its members and be an important force in the community.  There was strong participation in interfaith activities in the village, including Thanksgiving services and food for the needy.  And, as the surrounding community assumed a greater ethnic diversity this was reflected in new members of the church, resulting in many dedicated and cherished new friends.  The church was air conditioned in 1996.  And, when Fred Voss retired as president of the trustees his replacement was the first woman president, Anne Mahoney.  In 1999 to facilitate greater access by the elderly, a handicapped accessible rest room was installed next to the gym.  


(Reader: Craig Edelman)

Pastor Howard retired after 28 years in 2002, to the dismay of many.  But, we were very fortunate to have Dr. John Carrington as interim pastor until June of 2003.  Dr. Carrington was followed by our current pastor, Reverend John H. Cole who, by all indications should have a most successful tenure.  Faced with an ever-aging physical plant at Grace Church he is undertaking an ambitious capital funds campaign to underwrite expenses for maintaining and upgrading the church buildings.  And, today we celebrate the first 10 decades of Grace Church.


Truly, it is Amazing Grace, which for 100 years has been a light unto the people.


(The tenth candle on the cake is lit.)

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